Founder & CEO, Walk West Brian Onorio
We’ve had tricky clients and we’ve had unreasonable clients. Although this account was tricky, our client wasn’t unreasonable. To that end, this is one of the projects I’m most proud of to see our team face uncertainty and create success where there was doubt.
OFM, a global supplier of office furniture carried in big box retailers across the United States, came to Walk West with a challenge of their own making. Admittedly ahead of the digital game among their competitors when it comes to the digital landscape, OFM wanted to take it to the next level in a forward, progressive, and proactive approach. OFM could certainly have done nothing, but CEO Blake Zalcberg wanted to ensure that the business started by his father continued and solidified its place in the market.
OFM wanted to not be a step ahead of their competitors, but four steps ahead. We assembled a project team that carried the project from Discovery, to Design, through complex Development and Data Implementaiton, and on to SEO success.
On a project full of ups and downs, twists and turns, Walk West released the new OFM website in May 2017. The final result featured an incredibly tuned user interface that interfaces seamlessly with OFM’s ERP and product data giving users the ability to quickly and easily search, sort, and filter on a variety of metadata to find furniture or product documentation quickly and easily.
A Real Success Story
Case studies like these tend to look at positive outcomes instead of the journey to get there. Although our team was successful in delivering against our promises, the road to that success was littered with land mines and hurdles at every turn.
Every project has its ups and downs. High points and points of frustration. This project was one of those where unforeseen circumnstances created uncertainty and an outcome that came close to not happening.
Having worked with OFM over a period of 5 months in 2016, layers between our project team and the project team at OFM began to diverge. Expectations weren’t clear and deliverables weren’t stacking up against what both of our teams expected. At the beginning of 2017, our teams corralled to take inventory of the status on a project that was late and half finished. From that meeting, our teams tirelessly worked on something that we’re all proud to have been a part of.
Anchored by a forward-thinking creative that provides dealers an expected e-commerce like experience, the new OFM website features simple to use utilities to find, locate, and explore products from the company’s entire catalog.
Product pages feature full 360-degree views of their furniture lineup and the ability to quickly swap swatches and view products across variations. Product downloads like assembly instructions, product videos, spec sheets, and more are easily accessible.
A full-featured Inspiration Gallery was a unique added touch allowing visitors to see OFM’s collections in the wild with modern takes on office furniture.
A big contributor to the malaise of the projet was a complicated, in-house data infrastructure that created issues when translating that data for CMS-importability. OFM knew it needed a website powered by a modern content management system and WordPress was the platform that was chosen. However, getting tens-of-thousands of data assets into a unified structure was something that created a daunting set of challenges.
The IT contacts at OFM and our web developers were operating on diverging senses on how to make the data make sense both for OFM operations and for external marketing. Furthering the complications, the data was stored on location at OFM’s headquarters without the bandwidth to support direct-to-Internet operations.
The solution we devised was a complex and elegant export to a third party data platform that would run nightly and hook directly into our import and auditing scripts that would reflect additions, deletions, and updates to product data. Hundreds of iterations to these scripts finally yielded a result that was trusted to perform and operate at an enterprise level to deliver a seamless and unique user experience across devices.
Our team built additional utilities to support the data structure to inclue real time stock checking, a full featured Dealer Portal, and an interactive online retailer and dealer locator. All of this being fed from the hard work that was established in two teams operating out of seaparate locations towards one unified goal.
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