Home Gallery Stores is a leading online furniture retailer in the U.S. that carries over 100,000 furniture products from over 135 manufacturers with free shipping and guaranteed lowest pricing. The company has roots dating back to 1913 and has over the years transitioned from brick and mortar to a fully online based retailer.
Since 2005 HindSite Interactive has served as the dedicated digital partner for HomeGalleryStores and its web presence. Initially their website began as a simple online catalog with no ecommerce and over the years evolved into a powerful and complex ecommerce system that has undergone continual upgrades and improvements over the last decade.
HomeGalleryStores has had deep technical requirements since first transitioning from a brick and mortar to a fully online based presence. The first version of the website served more as a proof of concept to test the market and with the aggressive marketing strategies the site soon outgrew its website needs.
The second iteration of the site was a custom ecommerce website with full shopping cart experience and numerous administrative features to allow sales staff and administrators to manage orders, product inventory, email campaigns and series of other business activities required to operate as a growing etailer.
Over the coming years the version of site outgrew the company’s growth pace. The number of brands and products as well as the various custom features deployed were no longer feasible under an aging environment that were hampering performance and while user experience was neither mobile friendly nor compensating for larger display sizes.
We had to compensate by revamping the entire system to solve a number of challenges including:
All of these challenges needed to be solved under one site, one administrative area and one central platform.
Once we did a technical evaluation, it was easy to understand that no off the shelf solution could bring all of these elements seamlessly under one room.
The Solution? Developer a custom system, built from the ground up to solve all of these challenges. It was the only way to ensure HomeGallery can have a front facing and back-end presence that would function and perform exactly the way they intended while requiring the least amount of hardware resources (less servers = lower hardware and network costs).
All large projects require a discovery phase. Without it, you have no clear direction and set of requirements to work from and the same applied to this project.
At the forefront of the platform is the user and the sales experience was highly essential to the design and functionality of the front facing portion of website.
HomeGallery worked closely with HindSite to finalize a user interface that would improve the end user experience. The new site was based on the 960 grid vs. the former 800 pixels width which was becoming obsolete.
Additionally the new site needed to be responsive so users on various devices web or mobile could search for products, get quotes, or purchase on demand from anywhere.
We first needed to revisit the core requirements of HomeGalleryStores. This wasn’t a one off brainstorming session; but one that required in-depth communication internally within the client’s team and then understanding those needs from a design and development architecture and underwent a few iterations.
Since HomeGallery had an existing web presence and it had scaled over the last few years, it helped to evaluate the system’s weaknesses on both user experience and functionality that needed improvements.
The development phase was composed of a series of steps, divided into front and back facing areas of the system.
The back-end system was an extensive undertaking requiring multiple months of development on both database architecture and connectivity as well as hundreds of administrative controls that needed to be redeveloped and optimized for improved performance.
The administrative system needed to be powerful and contain hundreds of features to support and empower all divisions at HomeGallery to manage their website presence and support customers including:
Full control over adding new products, ability to assign over 30 designations to each as well as assigning Options, Finish/Fabric, Addons, Cartons, Protective Covers and Pads, Barcodes and other related specifications.
Full control over product catalog, designate filters for each return.
Product catalog populated via custom algorithms that ranked most popular and/or profitable products combined with pricing and other criteria.
Manage landing pages for marketing campaigns and end user touch points.
Control furniture based options such as fabrics, finishes and mattresses.
Extensive order management control from order history, revenue and gross profit calculations, purchase order fulfillment and releases among others.
The system was tied into a series of third party applications through API handshakes to help improve and automate various procedures including:
Automation of EDI and inventory management for participating manufacturers
Credit card processing, Bill Me later, and Paypal integration
Purchase order and release generation
Product Feed Automation
Generation of various feeds for third party sites including Google shopping and Amazon
Email Campaigns and Subscriptions
Allow import/export of related data for CRM and email delivery.
And number of other functionalities including Call Back Request, Online Chat, Damage Issues, Administrative permissions, and top product management.
Technologies & Solutions used:
We needed to select a series of back-end technologies that would be able to handle the specific needs of the system while allowing superior scalability and flexible to allow us to achieve the performance requirements of the site.
We utilized Nginx, PHP, Node.js, and eventually utilizing the latest Java libraries to improve system performance and scalability.
Caching mechanisms were created and integrated for improved front-end performance and load times.
The new HomeGalleryStores.com system has allowed the company to improve product management, allow for EDI and inventory management, improve the order fulfillment and purchase order process for its sales staff, while allowing full administrative controls for management.
For the end users, the new interface is easier to navigate, search and filter for results and allow mobile users to enjoy a fast responsive experience to locate products while window shopping, request quotes on demand and purchase products via multiple payment options.
The new system also allows for further scalability and is now being geared towards launching new ventures based on the core system developed.