Online B2B Ordering for Vet / Pet Wholesaler Cenversa:
In theory there is not much difference between B2B and B2C e-commerce. The reality for a company like Cenversa, is that B2C e-commerce platforms don’t allow for complex multi layered pricing systems, shared product ranges across multiple storefronts or barcode reading mobile apps.
Cenversa, which has a Vet Wholesale division “Cenvet” and a Pet Wholesale division “Central Pet”, already had a legacy online ordering platform, so they understood the issues. The legacy ordering system had two major shortcomings. 1. The price calculation process was extremely slow, typically taking more than 15 seconds per product and 2. The hardware based barcode reading system was running on old and now unsupported hardware.
Piapps ran two proof of concept exercises at the start of the project following detailed discussions with staff from both channels. We first tackled the price calculation speed issue. Speed and ease of use were s identified as the most critical issues by virtually everyone we spoke to. Having been given a target of one price every 5 seconds, calculated via a 45 tier pricing matrix, we were able to demonstrate accurate calculation of over 500 prices in about 1 second.
We also demonstrated a software based barcode reader recognising Cenversa product on a generic mobile device.
To accommodate the separate Vet and Pet channels a tenancy based development platform was used. This allowed us to use a single product data feed from the corporate ERP system and split it into two separate storefronts, each with their own channel livery. The tenancy model allows each channel to modify the product description just for that channel and without altering the sovereignty of the ERP data. It also allows some functionality to be unique to either tenant.
We added a landing page dashboard which gives direct navigation to the most commonly used functions as well as comprehensive tab based navigation.
As this application is business critical, we placed the new system in a dedicated free standing Azure cloud hosting configuration. The Azure platform was constructed with two geographically separated Azure nodes giving full redundancy and traffic management between the nodes. This system is designed to maximise uptime, as well as data security.
One of the key features of the entire development process was the ongoing engagement with IT, management, sales and particularly customer service staff.
Stage one of the project dealt only with the desktop version of the system. Stage two was the development of the mobile apps to complement the desktop version. Stage 2 will be the subject of a future article.