Over the past 6 months I have been working hard to update Red Hot Vaping into the the modern world of E-Commerce. You may have seen me neglecting other duties, stood behind the computer screen for up to 12 hours a day often lost in thought, confused or just determined.
We have migrated from an old, outdated and slow till system to a new, powerful and complex system. This was no small task in itself, due to the old till system being edited by various people over the times it would not just be a simple export and import into the new till!
We wanted to streamline all of the products into the same format so we could increase service times, reduce customers waiting and leave more time for one-to-one assistance. All of our 4000 products had to be manually entered into the new till system! Categories created & organised, cost prices, suppliers, stock levels etc all had to be painstakingly done... ONE BY ONE.
To further decrease transaction times we then wanted to barcode everything, this would take adding each product into the sale from 5/6 seconds down to just 1 second. Think about that, saving 4 or 5 seconds doesn't sound like much, but when you can sell hundreds of products a day it literally saves hours over time, just in putting a product into the sale!
As most of you know, the old website was bulky and years behind any modern site available online today! Again, simplicity was not on my side. It would not be a simple case of migrating the old site over and Hey Presto! No, because of the poor design, layout and usability of the old site we couldn't just do that. Neither could we just synchronise the brand new till system over, the till system creates variants in a different way to the new site meaning all 4000 products would be synced as individual products and jumbled into oblivion.
So, I started once again painstakingly entering 4000 products, one by one. Images, descriptions, hyperlinks & collections. Doing all this manually allowed me to make the usability of the site as friendly as possible, imagining how I like to shop online. Simple.
During this long process we realised that the till system would not just simply synchronise and match the products I had entered, with what the till system would enter and that is where barcodes come into place. In order to match an otherwise independent product both systems had to have that same, individual barcode. There could not be any duplicates, and wrong codes otherwise it would not sync. This meant checking every code for errors or duplicates!
After many unmentioned issues along the way, it's almost time to launch! The systems are linked, stock is being synchronised and all products are online with images and descriptions. Now I complete all of the final checks to make sure we have no issues on launch day. The old site is down, the domain has changed. The anxiety of working on something for so long, to come down to just one click in intense. I'm sure there will be issues, but i'm also sure they can be fixed when they arise.
This is not something I have ever done before. Never have I set up a till system, never have I built a website. I have had absolutely zero experience doing any of it. And i wouldn't have got close if it wasn't for the help and advice from Dave Minall of The Ace Of Vapez whom gave up a day or two to help me learn what to do, and also to Tom Williams of The Working Daddy blog for helping with SEO and the more complex side of the site such as re-directs, audits and back-end records.
A huge thank you to both of you, this would have been 10x harder without your help and advice!
Author - Michael Howden, Store manager