As Hunt Green's technical partner, we bring the following skills to the team:
Hunt Green had the ambitious goal of creating the largest online John Deere dealer in Australia. Over 1 million products later, they not only have the largest range of Genuine John Deere products in their online store, they are marketing their products through a number of online channels including eBay and Google Shopping, and selling into all corners of Australia.
In this case study, we will outline the unique project challenges, the process and key features implemented to deliver a solid foundation, the technologies used to enable the new brand to sell online and some early results achieved in only a few months since launch.
Starting an online business is not simply a case of "Build it and they will come". A successful online store requires a carefully thought out, evidence based strategy; a dedicated project team with members who are experienced in your domain; and an appropriate budget that will support your growth goals. While all web projects (especially e-commerce) have their challenges, following are a few that were unique to the development Hunt Green online store:
Changing the traditional model of purchasing agricultural parts
Hunt Green is disruptive in that it is changing the way that people in the agricultural industry purchase parts to service their machinery. While this gives our client a "First Mover" advantage, it also requires patience and persistence while customers change their buying habits. The rewards are huge as customers are high value, repeat customers who service their machinery on an annual basis at minimum. So there is a challenge to promote the Hunt Green online store to customers who have only ever purchased John Deere parts from a physical dealer, and to provide exemplary follow up customer service to ensure a great customer experience which will lead to repeat customers.
Sharing online inventory with bricks and mortar stores
One of the requirements for the project was to have a unified inventory for both the online store and physical stores. This meant that the website needed to be somehow integrated with the existing office system that was in use for inventory and invoicing.
Migrating 1 million products into the Magento catalogue
Serving a catalogue of over 1 million products is no mean feat. Doing it on a budget while not sacrificing functionality adds to the complexity. Some of the challenges we faced with such a large catalogue include: maintaining a search engine that is both efficient and provide relevant results, keeping page load times to a minimum across the site to keep users engaged and achieve conversions, creating a site structure that allows for a contextual navigation for users to drill down and find products and creating enough content for visitors to make a confident buying decision.
One of the most powerful features of Magento is the ability to extend the core functionality through third party applications. This is similar to the way mobile apps can be installed on an iPhone or Android device. After completing a detailed planning process where we mapped out the required functionality, we then researched the right mix of extensions to install and configure for the Hunt Green site. These extensions included eBay integration, Google shopping product feed, shopper discount coupons and an automated emailing system.
Hunt Green is backed by one of Australia's largest John Deere dealers, with 12 locations and 260 staff throughout New South Wales. Stock between the online store needs to be synchronised with stock on-site at dealer locations. We developed an integration between the online store and their inventory management system so that sock levels are up to date, whether sold in store or online.
We have been able to deliver a customer focused experience by integrating with services that specialise in Shipping and Payment. Temando are an aggregator of freight services, and offer a live shipping estimate calculator on the product display page and cart. This helps reduce shopping cart abandonment by giving customers the full delivered cost of their order when viewing a product. Integrating with the eWAY Payment Gateway offers secure payment services and integrates seamlessly with our Magento store, so customers can checkout securely with their credit card without leaving the site. The eWAY integration also allows for simple processing of refunds form the Magento Administration area.
The product catalogue is synchronised with eBay and Google Shopping to view more exposure in those marketplaces. eBay orders are automatically sent back to Magento so that all orders are administered in the one system.
eBay orders are synchronised into Magento using the multi-store capabilities, allowing eBay orders to be easily managed through the Magento administration, but also allowing separation for reporting and marketing purposes.
To efficiently host and serve a catalogue of over 1 million products, we needed a powerful website hosting environment. Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the clear choice, allowing us to separate the required functions using their specialised services. These include RDS for database hosting, S3 for media storage, EC2 for web server. This is all configured in an environment with load balancing rules so that at times of high website traffic rates, the hosting scale up to multiple servers to handle the load. We have also introduced Amazon Cloud Search which has vastly improved the quality of the website search engine by producing more relevant search results.
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