Internal operations are paramount.
Ensuring that in house representatives were capable of using the web systems to process orders, manage payments, communicate with kitchens, keep tabs on inventory, and organize shipping was the only way this operation could work. Everyone else on the project, while important, was secondary to this requirement.
To begin a project like this, Acorn works to develop what are called User Stories, a way to capture the organizational and operational needs into criterium for building out an e-commerce system tailored to a business.
The user story:
As a catering outfit I want to sell turkeys at Thanksgiving to open up new revenue streams for the business.
By establishing their core user story, the rest of the project could fall into place.
Assigning in-house team members to own the project
E-commerce vendors are there to provide the right software and skills on a given project. With so many choices to make, these user stories give us the appropriate amount of context to make technical decisions. Staff members are critical to inform the technical requirements from the user story, or suite of user stories. By understanding the vision of the project, we can ensure we are supporting in-house teams in a cohesive manner.
With user stories written, plans were setup for Railtown's online store.
We worked closely with in-house team members to ensure they were able to perform all of the required aspects of their jobs. This included building custom code for pages and selecting software plugins to suit the objectives of the project. Projects end up being a series of little thing decisions made every step of the way.
In configuring Railtown's e-commerce plugins we experienced issues like:
- A given plugin did 90% of what was expected, but the 10% that did not was mission critical.
- A payment processor was extremely functional, but not cost effective for the client.
Consistent and clear communication with team members is how we ensured that a proposed solution solved an actual business problem.
We collaborated deeply with Railtown to resolve details like these. For example, Railtown started off using PayPal to process payments. As time passed and the company learned more about their online operations, it turned out that Moneris was a better fit for the business. This is because it connected with their brick and mortar point of sale (POS) systems, and integrated well with their online payments from Moneris.
Projects start with one set of assumptions and evolve over a series of iterations.
Railtown's requirements changed over the course of years. What started off as a single product in their system grew to include a suite of integrated products, known as composite products.
Let's walk through how products are sold today. First of all, there was the order itself. A product was created for the Turkey-to-go half size package. This half sized package, on its own, costs $299.