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E-Commerce - Case Study

Submitted by Julian Stokes on 19 October, 2013 - 08:01

We've all been there. On seeking the advice of a tradesman about a fellow professional's work, we have heard the innevitable sucking of air through teeth, the decrying of  the previous workers as untalented, unscrupulous cowboys and rip-off merchants. And, to be honest, when faced with the product of a rival, the temptation to criticise, to nit-pick, to question their parentage and credibility can be overwhelming. But I try not to do it. Sometimes though, in the war between truth and diplomacy, it is better to grasp the nettle of veracity and state the situation as it really is.

This is how the Country and Leisure Clothing website used to look. It was set up in February 2013 by an "award winning" Essex web company.
Country and Leisure clothing - old front page

Yes, this was the home page. There was no product, no latest items, no special offers, nothing to catch the eye and draw the customer in.

I was initally asked to help with some of the day to day back-end operations of the site. Like setting up discount codes and checking why Paypal payments were not always being processed. The people who developed the site were seemingly not so interested in the minutiae of site operation and support. On being shown around the site and seeing how the administration worked, I was horrified to discover that:

  1. The admin area was accessible by just sticking /admin on the end of the URL
  2. The admin username was admin
  3. The password, was password


To be fair to the developers I was granted full access to the site which enabled me to download and review the files and code which ran the shop. It quickly became evident that what we had here was a fairly rudimentary home-brewed ecommerce solution. It is true that I could make it do anything that the owners wanted but the work required to get it up to modern standards would not be a good use of my time or my clients' money. The issues were legion, too many to enumerate here - so I said as much and, safe in the knowledge that it would blow their metaphorical socks off, set up a Prestashop based demonstration with half a dozen of their products on my development server.

Fortunately for me, both Paul and his wife agreed that it was an order of magnitude improvement. We worked together to create the new site, then I helped them to transfer the hosting. Country and Leisure Clothing is now up and running, working well and bringing ever-increasing sales.

This is how the home page now looks:
Country and Leisure Clthing - current view

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