In January 2011, Zlata Relin from Buckets and Spades contacted reInteractive with a problem.
The existing Buckets and Spades website was restrictive, hard to update, and every product change had to be manually entered twice - once in the site and once in the point of sale system.
Even worse, their existing website host was closing its service in mid March, and Buckets and Spades needed someone to create a new site that was user friendly, reliable, and easy to respond to changes in the competitive online retail space.
With 8 weeks available, reInteractive took on the challenge of building a bespoke e-commerce site that would integrate closely with the existing point-of-sale system, and help Buckets and Spades to expand their online business.
Designs & Prototyping
The entire Buckets and Spades development process was performed remotely, which posed some interesting challenges for such a comprehensive site redesign.
To handle this, the team worked closely with the client in a highly available, agile fashion. This involved weekly voice conferences with firm deliverables - giving Zlata the maximum control and input on the direction of the site.
The redesign process started with a series of design and mockup work, focussing on using the new look and feel of the site to allow both developers and designers to explore the full requirements of the site.
By building a basic site prototype using these mockups, the client was able to get a feel for how the site would operate, even before there had been a significant investment in code - reducing the cost of changes, and allowing for a cycle of quick feedback loops while the site design was polished to streamline the browsing experience.
Integration with social media platforms was also a key part of the requirements, and this prototyping stage made it easy to see how best to integrate platforms like Twitter and Facebook into the site flow.
Integration with the existing Point-of-Sale system
Next came the integration with the existing POS system's SOAP web-service. Within a week, reInteractive had built the foundation of the POS synchronisation process, imported all the product data and made it available on a site that was already looking much like the final product would.
We devised a system that would allow the Buckets and Spades team to easily upload product photos for all their catalogue in a way that was simple, straight-forward - and most importantly - didn't require a lot of time and effort by staff when new products were available.
Refinement and Improvements
By working closely with the client in one week iterations we were able to work over the next few weeks to tweak and change the site so as that it perfectly suited the needs of their customers. This rapid review cycle also ensured that decisions could be made rapidly to ensure that the site would be ready for its mid-March release date.
Because of careful architectural decisions made using reInteractive's considerable experience, it was possible to make rapid refinements to the website front-end without it requiring major back-end changes. This separation of concerns ensured that changes were possible even late into March as the deadline approached.
These changes included tailoring the site for rich filtering and site navigation, an iPad compatible design, and tight VIP integration with the POS system.
In mid-March the site was successfully cut over to the new version. A combination of well-considered architecture on Engine Yard, and integration with Amazon S3 and CDN services meant that the site remained stable and performant despite heavy traffic from an expectant and loyal customer base.
Since then, the flexible Engine Yard environment also allowed for reInteractive administrators to remain responsive to changing performance needs - being able to quickly and easily set up a high-availability environment in a matter of hours in anticipation for a large sales push.
reInteractive remain in constant contact with Buckets and Spades, monitoring the site for issues and downtime under our Sentinel service.
This has also included continuing site development, adding major functionality that both Buckets and Spades and customers long desired, with minimum disruption and downtime.
From the first meeting I had with reInteractive I could tell that this company was serious and professional in it's approach to tailoring a website solution for our business. We were looking to design and build a solution within a very short time limit, and reInteractive catered to this by using a systematic approach. Given the constrains and difficulties associated with linking our point of sale to our web store, we are thrilled with the outcome. Mikel along with personal service provided by his team on this project (Jason & Dave) were very thorough in dealings, and were always responsive to any questions/suggestions and the whole process was very collaborative from all involved. There 'can do' attitude along with flexible approach allowed us to collectively achieve the desired outcome. The dedication cannot be question as i honestly believe that some times they don't sleep :)
We are delighted with result, which has transposed into increased online sales and positive feedback from our customers. We look forward to continuing to work with reInteractive on future developments and enhancements to ensure that we stay ahead of the game.
If your looking for a custom website solution I can highly recommend reInteractive, who I'm sure will be able to cater to your needs.Zlata Relin, Buckets and Spades