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Sultanna Frantsuzova

08.01.2014 on 19:48 • edited 08.01.2014 on 20:05, rev. 2 • no comments
Resource is available at sultannafrantsuzova-shop.ru
tagged - clothes, fashion, shop, site
Project screenshot
Project screenshot
Project screenshot

About the client

Sultanna Frantsuzova is a designer that ran a wide range of shops in Russia back in 2000's. The network of shops was opened in collaboration with the group of companies "Jh". The business model they chose and its non-sustainable growth turned out wrong, and the business was subsequently scrapped. She then partnered with another company until the crisis hit and in 2009 she moved to Shanghai together with her family. There, she rebranded her business and rebooted it.

As of 2013, Sultanna Frantsuzova owns an internet shop and two showrooms in Moscow. Because the organization that supported her shop was becoming more and more unresponsive, she decided to outsource some of the related tasks to a third, individual party.

Responsibilities

There was a range of problems that seem to plaque every online shop out there: stock quantities were always wrong and changing the states of the placed orders almost always resulted in more desyncs. The shop lacked a range of required additional functions, it was hard to see how the business was performing etc.

On top of all that, the shop was powered by a Russian CMS called Netcat that imposed additional limitations.

Here is an example list of tasks that were performed:

  • Tracking stock-related problems and fixing them. As always, they lied in the way orders were cancelled or partially fulfilled, and some employees weren't shown how to handle these orders, so the stock amounts were never in line with the real numbers.
  • A range of new statistics, reports, listings and logs aimed to better cover the operation of the shop. Simpler analyzers of the client database to see how loyal the clients are.
  • Server-related tasks that include debugging software malfunctions due to the hoster updating the software at will. Setting up a developer version of the site.
  • Integration with the logistics interface of DPD, including real-time checking of the delivery possibility to a given location.
  • Online payment systems integration – at first with ASSIST, then with Dengi Online.
  • Providing third-party shops with the data interface to do commission sales.
  • Visual alterations of the shop, content management, adding new content forms (set of matching products).
  • Setting up analytics, including event tracking via Google Analytics.
  • Helping with 3rd party newsletters: setting up proper sync procedures for the email database, syncing unsubscribed users, creation of flexible email templates for later reuse.

Technical

Netcat proved not to be the best solution for online shops or anything of more or less complicated design. The local version was a quick and dirty adaptation of a PHP4 system into PHP5: the functional approach prevailed, the system's API was just a bunch of ambiguously-named functions. It was impossible to debug anything because most code was stored in the database and just eval()`ed at runtime.

Using an unpopular system has its huge drawbacks. Notably you cannot get any viable documentation or even a piece of advice from Stack Overflow. Trivial tasks become more and more complicated, and the cost of doing goes up, which is unjustified. In the end I had to drop the offer to make deeper adjustments to the site and recommended to refer to another person or a web studio that specialized solely on this kind of CMS.