Enough about hardware, lets talk about software..

Yesterday, we were fortunate enough to appear in a short piece in our local paper, The Middletown Press. They came to see us and talk about our new
“cloud based e-commerce solution”.  I promise, there are more buzzwords to follow.

Why did we decide to go with a “cloud e-commerce solution anyway? A variety of reasons.

One, our existing web site developer and host was evolving and getting out of e-commerce altogether. So we had to change our website in some way. Either by porting it over to a new firm for hosting and management, or by redoing it entirely.

Two, we had been using a database and order management system that we developed, that ran off Microsoft Access. When Toby developed that software in 1991 it was light years ahead of its time. We continued to upgrade and improve it over the years, including a total update in 2003, but it had become obsolete. Obsolete is bad, but worse, it was becoming unstable. Running on a secure peer to peer network, with offsite back up works, for a while. Until it doesn’t; and it fails catastrophically. At that point we would have been without a way to process orders and and customer records until we could get the system back in action. We needed to upgrade before it was too late.

Three, efficiency. In order to be competitive, we needed completely integrated software. Our previous system consisted of four distinct components-the website, the database the shipping software, and the credit card processing portal. We spent a large portion of every day moving information around between those four systems. It was enormously time consuming and while we were very vigilant, it was error prone. We wanted to integrate all 4 of those functions into one seamless unified package.

So those were our three “needs”. At the same time, we wanted to add some common e-commerce features for all of our customers and provide a modern e-commerce experience that is Amazon like in its efficiency. Instant order confirmations, automatic back order notifications, visibility across all channels. IE, you can order over the phone, then login and see your order history, and easier returns. Lastly, we wanted to be able to email invoices in the common PDF format (if you ever got one of our old RTF format invoices, you know what I mean).

So in September of 2013 we started on our search. We did numerous demo’s and phone consultations with all types of e-commerce providers. Some were with companies you may have heard of, like Magento and Shopify. Others we tried were smaller or open source, like WordPress. Finally, after four months, we settled on a company in Bridgeport, CT called GoECart.

GoEcart offers a much more comprehensive service than most solutions-they do the hosting and the “shopping cart”. Additionally, their software fully integrates everything we do with the shipping module as a separate, but fully supported piece of software. We spent 6 months building out all of our product data, customer information, glossaries, and website data, finally, we launched on June 10th of this year. All of the pieces came together. The very first day we were operating the system, it was clear to everyone here that we had made huge improvements in efficiency and customer service. No longer would our clients have to wait until we shipped their order for confirmation, no longer would our clients be separated as web or phone customers. All the data, all in one place, securely backed up offsite in server farm.

Why do I think this matters to you? Because you, as a client, need to know that we have all of our ducks in order. That we will be able to get you what you ordered, when you want it, every time. And you want to know that your information is secure, and that we are in position to continue to deliver the products that many of you have used for decades.

 

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