DCSL Software was hired to modernize a legacy solution for future scaling, which includes feature design/development and ongoing support.
Highlights include flexible access to talented developers and a confident, meticulous approach when it comes to engineering client solutions.
"With DCSL Software, the feeling is that we can do anything."
Introduce your business and what you do there.
We're a musical instrument retail business with e-commerce and brick-and-mortar outlets in Brighton, UK. We also have a mail order team focusing on the education sector. Our main business is oriented mainly at B2C [business-to-customer] sales of guitars, drums, and computer-related musical equipment. We've been in business for 20 years. I am the general manager of the company.
What challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?
We owned our website, but the back-office system had been leased and maintained. We had built a stock warehousing and ordering system responsible for handling all our processing, working with a couple of developers over the years. The system was up until 3 years ago, during which time we'd been leasing it on a monthly basis. We were starting to hit some limitations with the platform and realized that we needed to get in-line with the customer experience offered by our competitors, as well as adding extra functionalities. We also wanted to own our system and have it be a bespoke business asset, so we needed a developer who could rebuild many of the functionalities we already had, make it scalable and adaptable, and much improve our customer experience on the website. Making it mobile-responsive was a big consideration.
What was the scope of their involvement?
We initially started our project on a small scale. Our sales manager and I sat down with the lead architect from DCSL Software at the beginning of 2015, and specified everything, looking at every detail of the processes we needed, and how we could change them. After a 2-month process, we started the development and testing process.
We've worked with around 10 people from DCSL Software's team initially, including developers and testers.
How did you come to work with DCSL Software?
When we started moving away from our current supplier, I looked at the market in order to see what was available. I came across many companies that had off-the-shelf solutions for warehousing, sale order processing, and e-commerce. As while-label office solutions, while cheap, they didn't do everything that we needed them to do, required further development, and would bring us to a licensing model again. We preferred to build a bespoke system which could minimize the impact of retraining our 70+ staff on changing software.
We initially had a meeting with another London-based development house who offered similar services, but DCSL Software inspired more confidence. We visited them at their office and talked about our project with DCSL Software's managing director. It was a massive project for our company, and we needed the reassurance that it could be achieved.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started our project with DCSL Software in April 2015. We switched our site in May when the back-office portion came live. We're still within a scaled-back development phase and receive deliverables on a weekly basis. We've scaled our team down to around 4 people currently, and will keep one developer and one tester until the holiday season. We will resume development at the beginning of 2017. It was always our goal to keep the project going. Although all systems were operational after launch, we've split the project into multiple phases for changes on the back-office and frontend.
Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Our turnover for mid-2016 is up 5% from what it was last year, but the real impact has been in offering us the ability to add solutions and utilities which we didn't have before, like online finance, which was a great customer offering. We developed this solution with DCSL Software in conjunction with our finance provider, who provided the APIs.
We have voucher capabilities which we didn't have before. They enabled us more freedom for offering deals and promotional opportunities. We also accept PayPal transactions, which wasn't possible previously. Our mobile conversion rate has increased by 1%, as well as the mobile traffic in general. We offer a much better user experience than we did before. DCSL Software has given us the ability to utilize these extra functions, which wasn't possible in the past due to a lack of technical backup.
We've been able to implement our product package deals in a way that wasn't possible previously. We can group 5-6 products together on the backend, and price them as one item on the website. This works well on the back-office side, because the items come in as a single order, allowing us to pick and pack them together.
Another useful feature is competitor monitoring. We can always monitor competitor's sites in terms of pricing and product listings, which is a mainstay of e-commerce currently.
We're also working with Import.io, which is a US-based third party that can scan websites. DCSL Software has built us a custom-made price comparison and monitoring utility within the back-office, which is hooked into Import.io. This has helped us stay ahead of the curve.
How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?
We used a third-party tool recommended by DCSL Software for tracking issues, bugs, and changes, and allowing us to raise tickets. We used it quite a bit during prototyping and development. Aside from this, there was a lot of one-to-one contact with our lead architect, who managed our project and the developers. We also spent a lot of time in DCSL Software's office. Although they hadn't done this before, DCSL Software was keen to the idea, and it worked out very well. We've spent a lot of time sitting in their office next to the developers really honing our agile approach.
What did you find most impressive about DCSL Software?
We brought all the ideas to the table using a talented and experienced in-house team, but there were always technical problems with our previous supplier, not allowing us to get things done. With DCSL Software, the feeling is that we can do anything. They had a can-do attitude that was very refreshing.
Are there any areas DCSL Software could improve?
We've had a very big and fast-moving project. If we hadn't been working on-site with DCSL Software, it would have been difficult to stay abreast of all the changes happening. We were pushing to get things moving as quickly as possible and bypassed some of the testing that DCSL Software would have had, ideally. We ended up finding more bugs than would have normally occurred, as a result. If we hadn't worked with them face-to-face to such an extent, DCSL Software would have probably needed a bit more of a project management and feedback structure. I really can't fault them for this, given the pace and size of the work.