Severe Environment Specialized Product Store
This is a case study developed on the basis of our experience as a junior partner in a project for our client. The project has been described in whole so that the description is comprehensive. The key technology decisions and implementation decisions were managed by the senior implementation partner.
The client manufactures and sells high-performance and high-reliability products for severe environments like aviation, heavy industry (railway and mass transit, nuclear, oil & gas) and industrial equipment markets. They wanted to promote their products through an International E-commerce site. The website had to have multi-domain and multi-language features. The site till then had only a listing of products, listing of distributor details and a form for sample ordering of the products through the site.
As the company's products were for severe environments and they had to supply these products all over the world, they needed a highly secure website. They wanted the option to hide/show some products in selected countries. The site had to prevent sample ordering of products if the products were restricted in the country the user selected as the shipping address.
They needed a product calculator which accepts some measurements say height, width, volume, no. of sockets etc. and should give their customer a blueprint of the product how it looked like based on the values. Also, if there was any product that was usually sold with the product, it should be shown as a suggestion.
The website was built in ASP.NET. They wanted to change the entire look and feel of the current site and add the above extra functionality. Also, they needed to migrate the current database which contains around 50k products to the new site without losing any data.
As the client wanted a content management site with some properties of e-commerce, the choices were either Magento or Drupal.
Why Drupal was Chosen
Drupal was chosen because it is an open source CMS and because of its wide variety of contributed modules and community support. Along with that, Drupal had more features (easy for administrators to manage, provide high level of security with roles and permissions, able to provide a workflow of the contents ie. from a draft, published, not published) compared to Magento.
Key Modules/Theme/Distribution used:
More than 50 contributed modules are used in this project. Some of them are
- User registration password
- Global redirect
Some API's are also used to get stock details from external site/external database. A survey form was provided on the site for getting user opinions. We also provided the option for bulk import of products as CSV. An advanced search with filters using Apache search was also provided. The site was developed in such a way that extra features like online payment, online customer support etc could be implemented easily if it will be required in the future.
The main challenge we faced during development was the data migration. It took several days for us to migrate data from the previous site to the new one. We managed it by setting cron to migrate data at regular time interval. Another challenge was related to SEO. Many things were done on the robots file and on the meta tags for making the site SEO-friendly.
The project was successfully deployed and on time with all the milestones met. The project duration was 10 months.
The client was very happy with the new look and feel of the site and its performance. It also resulted in the client getting more hits than the previous site. The old sub sites were also redirected to the newly launched site so as to not loose traffic from the old site.