GCC (Global Custom Commerce), also known as Blinds.com, is an eCommerce company that provides highly configurable window coverings to its customers.
A Modern eCommerce Solution
Blinds.com approached Improving to be able to sell these highly configurable products online while giving the best possible user experience.
The challenge was significant to their business operations as they wanted to increase customer satisfaction, with less human-powered sales and fewer issues with the products that had been misconfigured. They had a previous product called Cash Cow, which allowed them to sell configurable products online but was not very robust and did not provide detailed real-time information on pricing or the actual configuration of the product.
Our team developed a solution that was built on the Microsoft .NET development platform. We utilized both RavenDB as a NoSQL database and Microsoft SQL Server as a SQL database in the back end. The front end shifted over time from a Knockout JS front end to later being developed in React. The choices were made based on the market skill set available within the area, alongside good technical fit for the problems they were solving.
At the core of the solution was the rules engine, which allowed GCC to define what a product looked like, define each of the options and the choices that could be made for each of those options alongside how those affected each other. From that, we also built out a pricing engine that allowed them to define how each of those choices would affect the price in various ways, from a straight cost per unit to a cost based on height and width and other formula-based approaches.
The Business Benefits
The Autobahn project had a significant impact on GCC's business operations. It provided better capabilities for their marketing department to do A/B testing and understand where their customers were falling out of the funnel, which improved the user experience for customers, resulting in better decision-making and customer retention.
The project also impacted GCC's business strategy and operations in the long run. The solution opened a lot of new opportunities for them as they started looking at other configurable goods that they could implement and sell utilizing this platform. They were able to expand the number of products they were able to service, once they were purchased by another company, and add the ability to provide better customer experience upfront with fewer issues with the choices that were made.
Quantitatively, the project led to an increase in sales, and it was a major factor in their acquisition by The Home Depot. The project also provided better capabilities to their customer support team and product management group. Almost everyone within GCC interacts with this product in some way, and it provides a better experience for all.
Microsoft platform and stack
Microsoft SQL Server
The project had its fair share of challenges and obstacles that were met head-on. The team utilized a Scrum-based workflow, where sprint reviews were held with primary stakeholders from across the business every two weeks. The progress was celebrated, but failures were also brought to light and discussed with a focus on how to improve and resolve the failures.
This project was unique in the capabilities of the rules and pricing engines. The solution provided a huge amount of flexibility to GCC, allowing them to expand the number of products they were able to service and opened up a lot of new opportunities for them as they started looking at other physical goods that they could implement and sell utilizing this platform.
In conclusion, the Autobahn project was a huge success for GCC. It showed the benefits that good technology applied well can achieve. It provided a better experience for customers, improved decision-making and employee retention, and opened up a lot of new opportunities for GCC in the long run.