BMI Surplus, which sells scientific equipment online, faced big problems with their existing e-commerce website. Alongside our partner, Valerie DiCarlo of SEO Web Consulting, we worked to rebuild their site in order to move BMI off of their aging, inflexible AspDotNetStorefront website and improve the search engine optimization capabilities of the site, while maintaining some of the store customization that is unique to their business needs.
With a catalog of over 30,000 unique products, and new inventory coming in daily, rebuilding a site of this size is no small task. With a proven track record for scalability and a strong selection of third party add-ons available, ExpressionEngine, paired with the Exp-resso Store e-commerce add-on was the clear choice for this site.
Alongside BMI's internal team members and IT contractors, who manage the Fishbowl inventory management system, we built a complex synchronization system, connecting ExpressionEngine to their backend, saving staff the time of having to double enter content in the inventory system and on the website. The synchronization system keeps products on the site updated live from the inventory system and transfers orders back from the website to the inventory system.
While search engine optimization requires careful attention the content and word choices used on a site, a catalog of 30,000+ items, built over many years, presents a unique problem. Manually sifting through the entire catalog to update category names and content would be a monumental task. Our synchronization system enabled the inventory system to continue using its existing category titles and hierarchy, while allowing Valerie to customize the naming and structure on the website without breaking the synchronization process.
On the front-end, finding products in such a vast catalog can also be daunting. We built a custom autocomplete search tool to help find products quickly. There are also numerous sorting and filtering tools built in, allowing easy browsing within a category holding just a few or hundreds of products.
The checkout process also presented some unique challenges. BMI likes to offer a wide variety of shipping options from multiple carriers, so customers can select the best option for them. Also some of the products BMI sells are too large for standard FedEx or UPS shipping. The checkout process on the site evaluates the size and weight of the products in the cart and shows appropriate shipping options, including live carrier quotes, or indicates that BMI will be in touch to arrange shipping.