Case Study, Ecommerce, Healthcare, Web App
The Index: How Topflight Approaches Ecommerce App Development
The Index is pushing hard to become the top marketplace in the USA for surplus surgical supply sales between hospitals, surgery centers and other medical service providers. The Topflight team has planned and begun executing the final major steps for the ecomerce app development needed to make it happen.
December 2016 – Present
- Technology Stack:
Magento is a powerful ecommerce platform. At standard, Magento provides what you need to start an online store. One of the biggest benefits of using Magento has always been how extensible and dynamic it can be when customized. This along with the standard features are why The Index decided on Magento 2.
The fun has come in that The Index needed something that was almost entirely foreign to Magento’s structure. Magento is designed to be a 1-to-1 sales platform. The Magento store owner sells to the customer – you can do this with a brand new Magento store.
The Index’s problem is that The Index is a marketplace – a powerful and accommodating system in which any number of vendors can post their inventories as available at the prices they want to sell them for. Those sellers then need to be able to sell things to several customers.
Customers then need to be able to purchase any number of products they want from any number of vendors they want to buy from.
Being that the site was in growth mode, we first addressed on-site SEO issues (see our separate post on why developers should know basic SEO). Then, we started implementing a plugin by Webkul that established the Vendors / Customer user systems and adding other helpful features.
Webkul helped us get a long way in the right direction but also didn’t do what The Index needs out of the box. Getting products on the site as a vendor was difficult to say the least.
The Index’s vendors want to sell several products – dozens, hundreds or even thousands. So we implemented a system for CSV upload that helped make things a big easier.
But then the structure of the site came into question. The Index could realistically sell a finite set of products because it’s only a single industry – Surgical Supplies. The Index’s customers need to find what they want as quickly and simply as possible but every vendor is uploading their own products and descriptions and images and, ultimately, this entire system was wrought with the potential for human error.
We all knew that this could be better for the customers and the vendors all around so we needed to come up with a plan.
The Universal Product Database
We discussed some solutions and, in the end, we found that we should model The Index’s user experience in a way that is similar to something like eBay or Amazon.
We needed not only to customize Webkul’s marketplace so that it serves customers a single page for any given product. This is similar to Amazon’s page for something like this Crock Pot. Crock Pot makes a lot of versions of its product – but this Crock Pot has a SKU (SCCPVL610-S) which is this exact model. No matter who wants to sell this Crock Pot, whether that be Amazon, your aunt or your local Circuit City – the information is the same.
Similarly, The Index has products that have very similar but different SKUs. Sutures could differ by size only on a very small scale. In order to make sure every SKU is consistently shown across the site, we have a single database entry for each SKU that stores the overall details of the product.
Just Getting Started
This is just the beginning. The Index is constantly growing. By working closely with their devoted sales and marketing teams, we plan to take The Index from where it stands now, a growing small business with over $1 million in annual sales, to an absolute powerhouse. Our roadmap includes a UX/UI redesign, significant performance enhancements, and native mobile apps for both buyers and suppliers.
We are a team of UI/UX designers, product designers, full-stack developers, and ex-founders of companies. Together, we build web and mobile apps for healthcare and ecommerce companies. Contact Topflight today and we’ll discuss your next project!