My technical nature has turned out to be the fundamental skill I possess that helps Andertons’ e-commerce efforts the most.
At the start of my tenure, whilst still working in a content-writing role, I was able to demonstrate how technology could increasingly support the business by building solutions in the form of simple web applications, spreadsheets and similar tools.
This quickly identified me as somebody who could facilitate e-commerce and ERP technology delivery and I have been working closely with our suppliers and internal teams to deliver I.T. projects ever since.
I have listed a few projects below to demonstrate just some of the solutions I have tackled:
Image CDN and Asset Management Infrastructure
One of Andertons’ requirements that could not be met by the IBM Commerce Platform out of the box was around frictionless management of the product image asset store and CDN. With just four content managers, we needed to upload thousands of hi-res images a month which would eventually be delivered in a multitude of formats and resolutions. (You can read some more about the importance of a good image gallery to Andertons here.)
Rather than opting for an expensive third party solution, I developed a bespoke web app using a browser extension and DropZone.js on the front end, and a PHP/Apache server back end to manage the asset store, database and integration into the IBM platform. This allowed users to save an estimated 4 minutes per image, and made image upload to the correct SKU asset a single, two-second, copy-paste / drag & drop action.
Images are then served to users using a modern, responsive images paradigm facilitated by Imgix (who are amazing, by the way!)
For high-end guitars, we produce around 20 images of every single unit that we sell so customers can see the actual item they are buying. The solution has ingested over 60,000 product images in 18 months, saving an astonishing amount of time and allowing us to serve super-hi-res product images when our customers want to see the fine detail in the wood grain of one of our guitars!
Custom Job Application Portal
I worked with two colleagues to build the Andertons Job Portal as a side project.
As well as the internal efficiency saving of hiring via a portal, we also recognised that the old, paper application process may put off potential employees, particularly for digital-team roles.
Migration to .NET Codebase
Until as late as 2016, our website ran on a Classic ASP codebase. I managed the client-side elements of the project which saw us migrate to a more-scalable .NET solution. Scope was reasonably clear as we were working with the same software house, but I was still required to ensure business acceptance of the new solution and work with a number of stakeholders to transition and go-live with minimal disruption.
3rd Party Logistics Integration (SEKO Logistics)
Due to the dramatic expansion of sales, we had to temporarily use a 3rd party logistics provider to increase stock holding capacity. I was the client technical lead for the project, ensuring software problems were solved during integration and snagging. As part of the project I specified the logic that drove the website inventory messaging, as we had to accommodate for many more inventory scenarios and still offer our customers an accurate delivery promise.
We use Cybersource, V12 Finance and PayPal so I have worked first hand with the APIs and security considerations that need to be understood to manage payments at scale.
Infrastructure & Tooling
Through the necessity of supporting an increasingly-complex system, our team has introduced a wealth of tooling and infrastructure to the business in a short space of time. Our replatforming required a new systems landscape, but also challenged longstanding processes and attitudes. As a result I’m familiar with implementing infrastructure both from a technical standpoint and a cultural one.
I helped manage these transitions by championing the use of the tools to tackle business inefficiencies and by leading careful, introductory processes that proved value and addressed individuals’ concerns. The team is now working smarter, and largely in the cloud, with tools like:
Docker, Jenkins, Jira, Sourcetree / Bitbucket, Confluence, Slack, AWS, Rackspace and WordPress.
Further to my e-commerce work, I have led streamlining processes for day-to-day business processes. I have facilitated installation of a printing system for in-store signage, written SQL queries to enable stakeholder reporting, and supported users with I.T. hardware & software issues, in the absence of a dedicated internal resource.
Support & Bug Fixes
Responsible for logging support requests with external parties including triage, detailing the root of the problem and providing suggested solutions. My intricate understanding of the systems landscape and underlying tech stack facilitates faster resolution as it enables me to spotlight the problem to developers and offer suggestions for resolution at time of reporting.