Elevating the Purchasing Experience
For a manufacturing company that deals in customization, a sleek, easy-to-use ordering system is critical to success. One such company enrolled our help to rethink its order entry process. As one of the largest employers in its corner of the world, this custom cabinetry company employs over 500 people between its factory and operations center. Its custom cabinets are sold exclusively through an authorized dealer and designer network.
The company’s existing online solution was less than ideal in terms of design and capabilities. As a result, dealers often opted to fax their orders rather than use the clunky online system. This required significant, and error-prone, manual labor to enter orders into the manufacturing systems.
We designed and developed a user-friendly solution that puts a nearly limitless number of custom cabinet configurations at the dealer’s fingertips.
UX / UI Design
Designing For Complexity
The biggest challenge to overcome was creating a solution that accommodated the full complexity of a custom cabinetry order. Customization options, or Mods as the company refers to them, are nearly limitless and vary greatly from product to product. The company needed to be able to add, remove, and change products in the system and specify the customization options available for each product. This was both a technical and a design challenge.
We built a rules engine that gets applied when selecting any mods or products to determine if the combination of products are compatible. This required us to build a high performance rules engine running through a million different options. At the time the project kicked off, our technical architect called it, “the most complex product development MentorMate has ever undertaken”.
Transitioning to Modern Standards
Perhaps the biggest hurdle from a design perspective was transitioning the company from its current world of legacy DOS and Windows-based desktop apps into the online world. The controls and interface expectations are quite different and the operating environment — in this case, the browser — is less controllable.
We developed a style guide that allowed the continued development of new features and screens without needing to involve a specific designer each time a minor feature was introduced in the product backlog.
A Best In Class Technology Solution
From a technical perspective, this project was developed entirely on .NET MVC, taking a code-first data modeling approach. Eventually, we migrated some components to the Azure Cloud and leveraged Azure services to meet business goals.
After two years of development, the resulting application makes real-time decisions driven on previous user choices and based on billions of configuration options. The product we built is a tremendous success for the client, catapulting the company to the top of its class in technology capabilities it provides to dealers. It was very well received and thousands of cabinetry orders have streamed through the platform since its launch.