How we launched a successful online store in just one week.

By Darrel Anthony

As digital partners, we pride ourselves in coming good when our customers need us. In these unprecedented times, we’re all having to think differently and rapid business innovation is essential.

G. E. Whites, a New Socks partner on the Isle of Man, faced a common problem with many other businesses today. Due to social distancing and government restrictions, put in place to protect our NHS, newspaper and magazine wholesalers found their supply chains had broken and the stores they were selling to had closed to the public. They needed to find a way to circumnavigate the middle-man.

Defining our goals

To test the concept, it was decided that we would initially roll the solution out for magazines only. We understood the challenges and next, set ourselves actionable goals:

  • Members of the public should be able to see which magazine titles are available to purchase from the safety of their homes.
  • Customers should be able to easily purchase single copies online.
  • The store should be easy for G. E. Whites staff to manage and should require little to no manual upkeep.
  • Customers should be reassured that deliveries will be made as safely as possible, eliminating human contact.

Using what was readily available

Little did we know how quickly and drastically the coronavirus would change our lives and due to this unforeseen situation, time was of the essence. We didn’t have the luxury of planning, designing and developing a solution over many months. We had just one week.

Members of the design and development team had personal experiences with the eCommerce shop builder, Shopify and after half a day of information gathering, we collectively decided it was the best tool for the job.

Challenges into opportunities

Every project big or small comes with its own set of challenges. Reframing problems into opportunities gives you the best chance of overcoming them.

“We don’t have any product images”
Can we present enough information to the end user about the magazine for them to purchase without seeing a picture?

“We don’t have any category images”
Can we use a combination of stock, publisher images and graphics to create inspirational category banners?

“We can’t currently offer monthly subscriptions”
Can we make it so easy for users to purchase their favourite magazines that they are happy to come back to our site every month?

The process

Shopify have an array of ready made themes and templates to suit a variety of business needs. We sifted through the library, looking for templates designed for large product catalogues, with in-built category filters.

Using the code editor we were able to customise the template to complement G. E. White’s brand and re-styled product category pages to list products in list format, without images.

Integrating Shopify with the in-house stock management system we had previously built for G. E. Whites, we enabled them to manage product listings for both systems in one central location.

We provided a key-turn service from domain registration to system design, right through to the final website deployment.

The result

After a heroic effort by the New Socks development team, we successfully launched after just one week of remote collaboration. Members of the public on the Isle of Man can now buy individual magazines and have them delivered to their doorstep. We are tracking results and plan to roll a similar solution out for B2C newspaper distribution on the island.

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