Castorama Poland is by far the largest home improvement retailer (holds some 38% of the market share). This ranks it the top of DIY stores in Poland. A member of the Kingfisher plc group that controls well over 800 stores in 11 European and Asian countries, Castorama Poland runs 70 stores in Poland alone and employs some 11,000 people.
We aimed at getting the system cooperate smoothly with the following solutions: Google Search Appliance (a commercial Google search engine), a system for syncing inventories, BOX (an application to manage the inventory), Emailforge (a mailing system), an employee recruitment system, Zendesk (an order placement system), Simple Machine (a discussion forum).
This should be a configuration effected in a sophisticated server environment, one that would allow for flexible and unflawed presentation of the range spanning many thousands of products; a configuration that would inform about product availability and up-to-date prices, regardless of how many users, at what time and what context would the site handle.
The research completed, we found both clients and Castorama employees disenchanted by the then working system that proved useless and faulty on most of mobile devices. The new project was to play a sales function and ensure spotless product merchandizing. And we have worked out a version of the Responsive Web Design – an efficient service for computers and tablets coupled with a separate ‘light’ template tailored to mobile devices.
This sophisticated and complicated project had us all working parallelly – both Castorama and Bold teams were put under time pressure that had been set up to get the brand on the platform.
What the Bold team focused right at the tender stage was to glean vast knowledge about just how specific our business model was; the UX concept they have proposed fitted the brand image perfectly and marked its competitive edge.
Michał Russak, head of digital, Castorama
A series of tests was initiated to determine customers’ needs – the needs of the organization and the needs of the Castorama website users, to be exact. Fed information by Castorama employees, we pinpointed biggest problems encountered in the old system and expectations made on the new one. This, in turn, helped us to draft a list of postulates that translated into the design process, and finally - the solution.
Needs analysis empowered us to make decisions about the technology, shop optimalization and the method to merge a number of systems; but most importantly, it effected a smooth transition from what was always there for the Castorama customers and employees, this including the website management method, the nature of content (e.g. ideas, the leaflet and catalogues, a discussion forum) to the brand new functionality. The added difficulty lied in getting some functions from the old system rather than making them anew, or transferring some functions and amending them just a little in the new service.
The quantitative study testing users was carried out on the representative sample of 1232 Castorama customers; in the form of a survey it was circulated with a newsletter and focused, in particular, on the mobile version. Seven questions that made up the survey were either closed or open (one question).
The study aimed at analysing consumer behaviours through looking into their preferences and shopping motives, that including shopping effected on mobile devices.
What we received was a priority list that helped us immensely in interface and interaction design. To quote but a few priorities: better product browsing which helps a price-wise customer to get the detailed product description without studying the entire interface, distinct shop location details and streamlining the nearest shop search, a simplified product search in the Castorama store (shopping lists or quick search by product code).
The local pricing model that the client employs consists in setting different prices on the very same product in each of the 70 Castorama outlets. To get the system show a product range that counts up to a few dozen thousand items, product availability and the price independently of the shop, we needed to implement a business model that would get this local price and inventory policy of Castorama just right.
Given the business nature of Castorama, it should come as no surprise that we had to handle an enormous volume of data. What with the amount of products and shops displaying individual prices or inventory, getting Castorama.pl started was a challenge for the Magento Enterprise system as well.
It is 45,000 stock items and 70 websites – add it up and you get 3 million product sites. Each day the price on each product changes – and we update it. The same works for the inventory - each 20 minutes there goes synchronization. This amount of data exerted an influence on Magento, which then was subject to thorough but efficient modification.
Robert Żochowski, head of IT, Bold Brand Commerce
The first stage of implementation has been successfully completed. We developed a model that shows prices and the inventory consistently with the Castorama business model; next, we had the system tailored to this model. Now we may select the shop – and its location is either automatically or manually determined – and the items we wish to buy, then check availability and price. We may make a shopping list, save this list and have it sent to somebody.
To enable the mechanism of placing an order and picking it up at the shop was the next stage of implementing the Castorama.pl platform. We turned on the click&collect function in selected shops and had it work for a limited number of clients. This helped to test and improve the order placement process without putting a burden on the entire system. Readability and intuitivity of the order placement process verified, we also checked the mailing and text message notification system. Full functionality of click&collect was ready for launch.
Each search engine in e-commerce is equipped with similar functions. But which one can effectively search 3 million product sites? The choice of the search engine depended greatly on this particular aspect. And the commercial Google search engine – GSA (Google Search Appliance) had no match. It is the top class search engine that responds to clients’ queries, but it is just as efficient a searchandising tool.
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