Building a Digital Commerce Platform which Leverages the Power of Content
Content, commerce, and data are something that always gels together in the context of the web. One of the success factors behind the ticket selling platform I have architected a few years ago is a good example of effectively utilizing this combination.
The key idea was to implement a system that is capable of spawning any number of front end portals - through which users purchase entry passes for events and a single backend system that can be used for publishing events, manage prices, manage orders as well as allocate entry passes associated with the event.
This first implementation of the platform primarily targets football fans to procure tickets to various club matches across the United Kingdom and Europe. The advanced search and navigation system enables the customers to find and book the tickets for the match easily. For the platform owner, the system manages customers, suppliers, orders, logistics, and accounting. The intelligent display system that prevents copying of prices by web scrapers is something that helped the platform stay in the market with the tough competition in this field.
Data Modeling in Drupal
The structured approach to adding content to the platform enables the content authors to create different types of pages like artists, team members, venues, stadiums, cities, and countries without worrying about how they will be displayed or organized. The management of tickets, seat arrangements, and pricing are completely decoupled with the content but from a front-end point of view, it is tightly integrated with the content - This makes it a system optimized for the administrators, content authors, customers, and search engines.
Decoupling Content with Products
The decoupling of content and pricing along with the comprehensive tracking of relevant data points enabled us to conduct experiments like creating and promoting different types of landing pages, introducing dynamic pricing, and implementing systems to prevent price scraping and with these, we collect more data and evidence that support or reject our hypotheses and then use that insight to optimize the content or commerce aspects of the platform.
Platforms that are in producation for long term
The platform we created on top of Drupal in late 2013 is still used by websites that sell tickets for events. There is no easy way to build a system that is scalable and future-ready. The selection of software and architecture for this platform was the outcome of the digital consultation workshop we conducted with the client. I believe that it is the long discovery process and the framework we used that helped us engineer the platform that is scalable, extendable, and can be maintained over a long period.