First Things First: Defining Success
Compiling base-level research to get started off on the right foot with new projects is always non-negotiable; but in the case of this overhaul, we made the commitment to truly understand some key things about Lipco's day-to-day processes so we wouldn't compromise them in any way.
To accomplish this, we conducted several in-person interviews at Lipco's headquarters. We toured the facilities and learned more about the company's everyday operations. We even browsed the company showroom and goggled at the vast, colorful quantities of gifts, from funny owl figurines to tiny toy drums. What we discovered helped us build a better project roadmap—and better understand Lipco's less tangible needs.
For one, we learned that most of Lipco’s existing customer base was comfortable with traditional ordering methods, like email, fax, and phone calls—to the point that we knew we'd need to think like a traditionally-minded customer when building out browsing and ordering processes.
We also learned that Lipco’s sales team prided itself on maintaining great customer relationships, so every opportunity to build a customer experience touchpoint or value differentiator was important.
Finally, we learned that Lipco’s inventory system contained existing customer accounts with their own tax information in addition to the plethora of ever-changing product data we already knew about.
Producing an ecommerce website that could accommodate customers unfamiliar with online purchasing while communicating Lipco's brand were design and writing challenges on their own, but incorporating a robust database and a user translation script capable of updating information daily (or more often than daily) were the real keys to bringing Lipco’s wholesale gift world to a functioning online interface.
Not only does the new site now display the data in our personal inventory system accurately, but the design and navigation is great as well. We’re enjoying it and we think our customers certainly will in the years to come.
Getting Under the Hood
While our designers and writers got to work producing The Lipco Group's visual experience, our engineers researched and built an application stack that would not only keep Lipco's data up and running at all times, but be able to continuously incorporate and refresh product inventory as needed. Once they settled on a smooth operating trifecta of Python (server-side technology), Django (a high-level framework), and Mezzanine (an open source content management system), the foundation was complete—and we were ready to bring Lipco's wholesale gifts inventory to the Internet at large.
With key performance indicators in our pockets and our tools to get the job done at the ready, we started to build.
We refilled coffee cups and chewed pencils.
We gut checked our categorization and sorting of products and even pivoted once or twice on experiential choices that could have ended up being wrong for the customer had we not collaborated on better solutions. Even if they seemed like small setbacks at the time, they helped us produce a smooth-flowing ecommerce experience that didn't ask too much from first-time visitors or long-term customers.
The Final Product
At long last, we launched Lipco's new site in April of 2017. It features over 11,000 wholesale gift products. Site visitors have the option to filter the company's many products by more than a dozen categories as well as browse pre-made designs for custom screen printing orders. And for Lipco customers accustomed to purchasing through one of the company’s four catalogs (Lipman Gifts, Sojourn Souvenirs, Outlook Designs, and Legends), they can search exclusively by catalog as well. In addition, visitors can easily view sales, clearance, and featured items.
The months spent meticulously processing and sorting data into an aesthetically pleasing, intuitive, easy-to-filter assortment of products and categories were well worth it for The Lipco Group. In the site's first eight months of operation, it outperformed its predecessor in online sales by more than 800% and increased the company's overall revenue by a staggering 32%. Helping prune that growth by gradually adding features and strong, SEO-laden content has made The Lipco Group's team a continuing joy to work with. We're looking forward to continuing to help the company curate a digital presence that solidifies its place as a forward-thinking leader in an industry formerly dependent on traditional tactics.
For more information on our work with lipco.biz, check out the press: