Vacuum World strive to stock all the vacuum cleaner bags, filters and accessories for just about every vacuum cleaner made and if Vacuum World don’t stock an item they will go out of their way to source the item for their customers. This means Vacuum World have a huge range of products to sell and their range continues to grow with each new vacuum cleaner brought to market.
Vacuum World was yet another example of how a good business was being let down by a poor online presence. Although the website ranked highly on the first page in almost all search engines it was clear that its potential was being scuppered by its very old and dated design. With very basic navigation, being stranded in some places, and no easy way of finding a product the website was very frustrating to use. The content in the website was also badly displayed and organised with no clear distinction between different sets of information. The checkout process again was very basic with no clear indication of the steps being taken. All in all a great example of how not to design a website.
The content across the website together with all e-commerce functionality was handled by a third party solution, Actinic, and this ran directly off the hosts servers. The issue with this however was that the application version was outdated and was no longer supported. The database had also not been maintained very well with plenty of duplicate products across the site, varying in description and pricing. In some instances products had notes attached stating that the display price was incorrect and showing what the new price should be. The checkout process also reloaded the page with the hosts URL displaying, leaving the customer wonder where they had been diverted to... and to whom. After inspecting the database and finding the mentioned issues the decision was made to construct the database from scratch and clean up all the data.
With the new database would come a new Content Management System (CMS) to handle all of Vacuum Worlds business processes. In addition to this Vacuum World wanted to start selling their products on Amazon, this meant adding Amazon specific functionality (Project #3 Amazon XML Feeds) to the CMS with the flexibility to easily add any other sales channels, such as e-bay, if or when required.
Project #1 www.vacuumworld.co.uk
Being a very competitive industry with the addition of competing against big name brands it was essential for e-volve to develop a complete e-commerce solution which would distinguish Vacuum World from the rest of its competition . After analysing Google Analytics, during the development process, it was made clear that customers would land on Vacuum Worlds’ website, if they did not find the item they were looking for they would not start looking around for it on the website. For this reason e-volve had to provide fantastic usability and a simple structured design in order for Vacuum World’s customers to effortlessly find and purchase their item as soon as they landed on a page.
Vacuum World did not want to keep any element of its old design, this meant e-volve had a clean slate to work from and chose simplicity as the overall driving force when coming up with ideas. After providing various options in design and usability Vacuum World opted for a clean simple Logo, consisting of text only and the use of four colours which distinctly separate the four main categories of the site; Vacuum Bags, Vacuum Filters, Vacuum Parts/Accessories and Vacuum Brands.
2. Products and Product Categories
The four main product categories appear in the top horizontal navigation bar with drop downs to an editable set of top selling brands specific to each category. The four main categories provide the simplest way of finding a product, sub categories were left out as this would add a level of unnecessary complexity. The flow of the website follows the structure of product category to product brand to vacuum cleaner models to product or as an alternative; product brand to product categories to vacuum cleaner models to product. Both these flows provide the most direct route to a product starting from top level.
The product category pages themselves have very little information on them specific to the category itself, this keeps the page free from unnecessary data and distraction to the customer searching for their product.
Product specific pages do not exist as again this would add an additional level to the website which was not required. Instead each product and the minimum amount of required data is displayed on the product category page with a hover option to view more detail if required. Another reason for this is that often multiple products can fit a single vacuum cleaner model. This way we can show multiple products which suite a model instead of a single product page.
3. Product Searching
Customers need only select their vacuum cleaner model or type in their vacuum cleaner model in order to find all products relating to that model.
Should a customer not find the product they are looking for, they still have the option of a site wide search using .
4. Shopping Cart Process
The type of product being sold by Vacuum World means that there are hardly any repeat customers, not enough in any case to warrant full account and sign in features. Instead it was decided that customers should be able to checkout with minimum of fuss and as easily as possible. The checkout process ensures customers are only asked for the minimum amount of information to process and fulfil their orders.
Vacuum World uses SagePay as their Payment Gateway. All payment processes involved with an e-commerce website are manageable through Sage Pay’s Administration system. For information on Sage Pay and Sage Pay integration please see the Sage Pay Integration Service
On completion of a successful order the customer will see their order confirmation page and will be emailed confirmation of their purchase. The system will also check for any products in the new order which also appear in Amazon. If so the system will generate an update to the Amazon system to ensure that the stock level are adjusted appropriately.
Project #2 Admin System
1. General Features
All general features required by Vacuum World have been built into the CMS. These features include User management, Content management, Offers/Promotional management, Enquiry management, Reporting and so on. To see on these features see the Content Management System (CMS) Services page.
In addition to the Product Management features Vacuum World’s CMS had to include functionality for Sales Channels. The Sales Channel features allow products to be sold on various other systems. This allows Sales Channel specific information to be recorded to facilitate product management across both systems. Amazon, used by Vacuum World to sell its products, has unique identifiers and specific sets of information it requires for product feeds and updates to work correctly.
3. Product Categories
Full Product Category Management is built into the CMS, however there are only four main categories to choose from. E-volve had to take a slightly different approach in terms of how products were linked and how they were attached to the categories and brands.
Each bag, filter or accessory has to be attached to a particular or multiple vacuum cleaner models. Each vacuum cleaner model is then linked to a certain brand, once the products have been attached to these models they would be associated to these brands and appear under the appropriate brand pages across the website.
Order management ensures orders are fulfilled and all required order data is displayed and available for processes to be completed. Internal orders can also be processed, allowing by passing of SagePay for cash or cheque transactions. In addition automated Seller Channels can also be placed when the CMS receives order data from the Sales Channel.
Refunds are easily processed as long as the payments have been made through SagePay, amounts up to the order total can be refunded, including postage and balancing figures. If an order is through a Sales Channel no refunds can be processed as the transaction would have been dealt with outside of the scope of the Vacuum World system.
Replacements are easily processed using the CMS, allowing for full or part replacements. Stock return tasks allow the CMS to track the reasons for replacements and ensure stock is always accounted for.
For Refunds and Replacements stock control is managed ensuring any products returned to stock are added as product batches.
7. Payment Cards
Every time a transaction is made Vacuum World it is charged by its merchant, the cost of these charges are stored against each type of card so Vacuum World can store the charge against a specific order ensuring correct calculations are made when determining order margin.
This can also be helpful when reporting on card charges to easily see the costs associated with the different types of cards over various time periods.
Multiple reports are available for Vacuum World to view across the CMS. The reports are specific to what is being viewed ensuring staff can easily identify key information to help them make better business decisions.
The CMS menu page shows Vacuum World daily, weekly, monthly and yearly sales stats as well as stock stats, customer stock notifications and much more.
Margin is based on seven key items across the system; products, discounts, shipping costs, card charges, packaging costs, refund costs and SagePay costs. If the sales has come from a Sales Channel then that Sales Channel commission is calculated into Margin. All in all the CMS provides Vacuum World with all features necessary to run its business processes in one place.
Project #3 Amazon XML Feeds
Vacuum World also sell their products on Amazon and this meant that the CMS would have to regularly update stock levels and fulfil orders. When an order is generated through Vacuum World’s website an update, via XML, is then sent to Amazon to update Amazon’s stock level. E-volve have a windows services which regularly requests various reports from the Amazon system. One of these reports is an order report which provides all necessary information about any orders they have processed. This XML data then auto generates an order in the Vacuum World CMS and includes all the relevant Amazon data such as Amazon order references, ASIN numbers etc. This order is then fulfilled by Vacuum World staff in the Vacuum World warehouse.
In addition to order fulfilment the XML Feeds also ensure that products are kept up to date and that Vacuum World products are correctly reflected on the Amazon system.
Project #4 Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Website Content
We mentioned earlier that Vacuum World’s database was poorly maintained, this meant that the content across the site was out of date and disjointed, directly affecting SEO results. For this reason content was rewritten for the website, retaining and building on the clean and coherent content and rewriting the rest of the content.
With rewritten and friendly URLs replacing the old website structure it was also necessary to ensure all the old pages were 301’d to the new URLs. All content is maintained through Vacuum World’s Admin system.
Project #5: Windows Service
Since Vacuum World sell products on Amazon it is important that the process of stock control and order fulfilment are automated and that these processes run on a regular basis. Windows Services installed on e-volve’s dedicated server ensure these processes run as required.
Vacuum World is a PCI Compliant Website