Essential Beauty Supplies & Outback Organics

Essential Beauty Supplies are a beauty wholesaler based in the southwest of England with their own product brand, Outback Organics.

The Brief

Essential came to us with a need for new websites for www.essentialbeautysupplies.co.uk and www.outbackorganics.co.uk. They required sites that were more up to date from both a design and functional perspective with the aim to increases traffic, convert more sales, improve retention and build greater brand awareness on the retail side, whilst building on their established trade success.

Design

Essential wanted their sites to look modern and clean, so we handed it over to our senior designer Pete to create a new design for Outback first then Tom took over for Essential whilst Pete went on leave to get married (congratulations Pete!!). Using Adobe XD, we gathered the brand colours and built homepages which better suited ecommerce and would encourage visitors to explore further. Both sites had strong product imagery which meant we could really use these in the designs to create a professional look; in particular the photography for Outback, which really set the stage for their natural product rage. The client wanted the design layouts to be similar so the 2 brands/websites clearly recognisable as one of the same underlying company.

Our agreed designs came out clean and functional with a heightened emphasis on the trade functionality and their Instagram feeds. The large slider images allow the client to achieve high impact to their customers with new products or sales. The unique selling points below the header on Essential provide a way to get key selling points quickly easily into the mind of its shoppers. Single product pages were kept minimal but highlighted the key decision making elements of the sale, whilst also making sure all product information were displayed clearly.

Development

Both sites we’re running Opencart previously, so part of our proposal was to import the product and user data from the existing sites into the new WordPress/WooCommerce multisite solution. With how the products were laid out in the backend, we decided a multisite environment was best, as this would allow Essential to add future products once and quickly publish them to both sites with ease. In addition, the products then only have to be maintained in one place and allows stock levels to synchronise between the two sites. A further benefit is that keeping the site software up to date and secure is a quicker process for Blaze, saving Essential in maintenance costs.

So the multisite environment was setup and the build began (lead by Brad, supported by Jack). We started by getting the design templates in place and then moved on to getting the page content in from the existing sites, whilst using more modern layouts to improve the visitor experience. There were a few features which required custom coding, in particular the trade functionality which was quite complex. But that’s okay; at Blaze we are used to custom coding WordPress plugins and WooCommerce plugin extensions. In fact, we have even released our own plugins to the wider WordPress community.

Challenges

During the build there were a few challenges; there usually are!

The first challenge came in the form of the product import from the Opencart system. We had used Opencart a couple times previously so knew how to install a product/user export module but it turned out the Opencart sites had been modified previously which meant these modules didn’t work, so we had to resort to plan B. Plan B was to obtain a copy of the databases and write custom SQL to extract all of the information we needed. This meant we had to learn the structure of the Opencart database system. However, our proficiency in SQL meant that we were able to get the data we needed, which was then imported into the new system.

The greatest challenge was the trade system. Essential Beauty Supplies is a trade only website so we had to configure the site so customers couldn’t order unless they had an approved trade account which has to be reviewed and approved by Essential first. Therefore a custom registration form and emails were built. Certain products on Outback Organics were for professional use only, meaning that these products couldn’t be purchased unless the user was logged in as a trade user, which meant we needed to code custom product fields and user role detection functionality. Also advanced bulk pricing rules had to be set up. The dynamic pricing in particular was tricky as there was multiple user role checks to look for and multiple outcomes based on the user viewing each product.

But in the end, with a lot of testing, and even a couple ‘speed bumps’ to manouver along the way, we got the sites built in a reasonable timescale and taking orders! Now the sites are live, our SEM (Search Engine Marketing) consultant is supporting our client to ensure they maximise their potential.