Online Store for a Local Manufacturer
One of web applications we built recently was a custom online store for Niche Professional, a hair product company in Vancouver, BC.
Niche wanted a website that would sell their shampoos, conditioners and other products to consumers and inform potential business partners about options to buy bulk, get samples, and set up long-term relationships. The store site had to be scalabe, easy to maintain, and convenient to tune for SEO – you’ve got to be liked by Google if you want to be noticed on the web.
We built a flexible, SEO-optimizable, modern online store for our customer based on Django and Satchmo. Satchmo is one of the most popular Python-based ecommerce frameworks. Built on top of Django, arguably the most elegant web application engine, it provides web developers with a way to quickly create scalable, flexible eCommerce systems. For dynamic features on the browser side, we used jQuery, of course.
Here’s how Satchmo, Django, jQuery and other tools have enabled us to quickly create a functional, dynamic website that acts both as a CMS and an eCommerce system, and is easy to manage by its owners.
For an online store, this is the most important factor. If you do everything else on your eCommerce website right, but ignore security, you will end up harming your customers, hurting your reputation, losing money, potentially destroying your business beyond repair. So we’ve got to think about security first. Because of the way Django application model is designed, it facilitates creation of secure websites more than many other popular web technologies. Built-in features such as cross-site forgery protection help save development time and allow everyone involved to focus on the real business goals of the project, instead of worrying about every detail. Satchmo allows to integrate the online store with a variety of payment gateways, and encourages a well-though-through, safe approach to handling payments and customer information.
To successfully sell products from your website, you need complete control over all the aspects of the site. With Django, we can tune everything: the way URLs of the website are organized, the appearance of the pages (Django has a powerful templating system), the database, caching system, admin features, and so on. Satchmo gave us great flexibility in choosing payment methods, automating shipping cost calculations,
generating PDF documents (invoices, shipping labels), and managing custom discounts.
I’ve already mentioned the powerful support for page templates that comes with Django. Django templates allow designers and programmers to collaborate in a productive fashion, without worrying about each other’s parts in the process. Unlike older web programming technologies, such as ASP or PHP, Django templates enable us to work on the visual aspects of a site independent from the server-side data management. Likewise, changes to business rules or logic on the server can happen without wreaking havoc on the visual side of things. This separation of concerns allows our graphic design team to focus on the presentation aspects of the site and create unique, usable pages, while the programmers implement the logic of the application.
How easy or difficult it is to update your site’s content and design can define your site’s success or failure in the long run. New products, new information, new ways to present it – all this must be easy to do on your site if you want it to perform well. With Django and its templating system, your website’s design is organized in a hierarchy. This makes it very convenient to update overall design and layout of the site. Changing things like header or footer on all pages uniformly, adding a sidebar, or popping a message about special offer – with well-organized page templates, these things do not cause trouble. In fact, with this online store project, we went though several revisions of overall design and layout, without interrupting the functionality of live website.
Satchmo has built-in support for major payment gateways, such as Authorize.net, PayPal, and a handful of others. It also provides a straightforward way to add new payment plugins. So, when we found we needed to add support for MiraPay, a Canadian merchant service, we simply added a plugin that implemented MiraPay’s API. Satchmo allows site creators to have multiple payment methods, which is a great thing – many customers are expecting to be able to pay through their PayPal account, while others prefer to use direct credit card payment.
Shipping Cost Calculation
Evaluating the cost of shipment is not a trivial task. Satchmo has great plugins for this, able to communicate directly with carrier companies to get a precise price for each shipment. As with other aspects of commerce, shipping with Satchmo can be easily customized to implement any specific rules that apply to a given business. Out of the box, it supports integration with the following carriers:
- Canada Post
- Flat rate shipping
- Multi-tiered shipping based on quantity or price
- Per item shipping cost
Discounts, Special Offers, Coupons
Satchmo comes pre-packaged with support for discounts and coupons. Default templates provide a nice starting point for showing discount information, giving the customer information about special offers, handling the whole process gracefully and correctly (the most important part). Customizing Satchmo templates proved to be a pretty straightforward process, and we were able to take full advantage of its support for coupon codes and specials. Again, this area is extensible, and if your website, like our case here, needs special custom rules for discounts, it’s convenient to implement them using Satchmo.
Some of the products our client sells through the website are customizable – you can choose certain options before purchasing, and the price adjusts accordingly. This is where Satchmo proved most helpful. In fact, it supports several flavours of customizability – as long as you know what you need, you can get it with Satchmo.
Subscription-Based Products and Downloadable Producst
Although we did not use subscriptions in this project, and downloading a bottle of shampoo is not quite yet possible with today’s technology, it’s worth mentioning these Satchmo capabilities here. Satchmo can just as easily sell your ebooks or software, or a paid subscription to monthly market insider tips, as it sells conditioners.
In short, as a web development company, we are excited that such high-quality frameworks as Django and Satchmo exist in open-source world. This gives is the power to solve our customers’ problems elegantly, with confidence and speed.
Contact DesignPractica to discuss your eCommerce or custom web project. We give free estimates.