Ann-Louise's new million dollar websiteApril, 2021
Ann-Louise Jewellers is a Canadian-owned company established in 1983, with 14 stores throughout B.C. and Alberta. They first reached out to us in 2016 while searching for a company that could help them with their then Sitefinity-based website.
A broken website
They unfortunately found themselves in a situation that we see far too often: they were left stranded by their previous agency. Their e-commerce system had multiple issues, ranging from a checkout system that simply didn't work, and a site that attracted very few sales. In the rare event that a sale was successful, it would often result in duplicate order numbers and receipts being sent to the wrong email addresses—an intolerable result for any business. Ann-Louise’s former agency was unable to fix these problems, resulting in a frustrating experience for everyone involved, especially Ann-Louise’s customers.
A difficult website to manage
No agency support or long term vision
A checkout system that frequently failed
Little to no online sales
A discontinued e-commerce platform
Their old site was based on Sitefinity
Sitefinity, the CMS system powering their website, has many great features, particularly for brochure-style websites. Ann-Louise found us on Google because of our extensive experience working with Sitefinity. In fact, many of our previous websites were built in Sitefinity, and we quite enjoy working with it in certain situations. We've even been fortunate enough to be nominated for Site of the Year for our work for RGF Integrated Wealth Management, another Sitefinity based website.
While Sitefinity is great for marketing content, the same cannot be said for e-commerce. The back-end product and order management features of Sitefinity’s e-commerce solution were extremely basic and not customizable, and their front-end checkout system had many frustrating quirks. But most importantly, the lack of e-commerce support was obvious and, eventually, e-commerce was discontinued entirely from the Sitefinity platform.
A new platform was needed
Faced with a broken website and an e-commerce platform no longer supported by its creators, we explained to Ann-Louise that moving away from Sitefinity wasn't just recommended, it was necessary. This meant that much more work would have to be done to recreate the entire e-commerce setup, from product data and customer importing, to receipt templates, merchant accounts and, of course, all front-end pages.
We recommended moving to Shopify
Shopify offers many advantages for companies like Ann-Louise. The API is flexible, allowing us to transfer information to and from their internal systems, and the app ecosystem provided new functionality that simply wasn't available to them before, such as product reviews, shipping integration and pickup in-store capabilities, and all at an affordable price.
Our Trello board for managing the communication of the new site rebuild together.
Ann-Louise has their own internal design team
Our focus was to support them by finding a Shopify theme that we felt was 75% of the way there, and that could be used as a base to improve upon. This would save a lot of time and costs, which was an important factor in moving to another platform. Their designers would be tasked with populating the images and marketing content once trained, while we would focus our time on creating features to improve the existing templates, such as the live search and filtering tools now found inside their collections.
Ann-Louise's design team created and populated the graphics (above) while we assisted with complex programming features like this filtering system (below).
Connecting their internal point of sale system
Ann-Louise runs their stores using their own internally-maintained POS system. Their previous e-commerce site did not interact with their internal databases at all, creating a lot of unnecessary product data entry and accounting work, as everything was duplicated between the two systems.
Since Shopify has a robust API which allows us to send and receive data from Shopify as we see fit, we could ensure that all product, price and inventory data was synced between the two sites.
Shopify web hooks
Another great feature from Shopify is the web hook system. A web hook is like a trigger that is pulled when certain actions are performed, like when a product is added to a shopping cart, or an order is placed. When a web hook is fired, Shopify sends data about the action to a URL that you specify. This enabled us to create web hooks that are fired each time an order is placed so we can collect the customer, product and order data and automatically insert it into internal databases, automatically completing the data loop.
Today, annlouise.ca is doing well. The point of sale system integration operates seamlessly, and sales have grown into the millions each year. We're continuing to develop new features for the website and look forward to working with them for years to come.
Andrew Chen, Controller