Author Topic: Why the shiny new website and what can it do?  (Read 2346 times)

Offline libertee

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Why the shiny new website and what can it do?
« on: November 10, 2011, 08:47:40 PM »
As always we thank you for your support.  Tony Stapells our current webmaster has been amazing in getting us started but i dont think anyone could have predicted the last 8 years rollercoaster!

As most regular Fod'ers are aware, the last couple of years in particular have been really hard for us at HF.  Ongoing family and health issues means we have not had as much time to spend on HF as we would have liked and add to this a seemingly perpetual stream of disasters it seems like we are always chasing our tails and never quite catching up!  If we said that we hadnt considered at least a dozen times on just walking away then we would be lying!  However in true HF fashion our stubborness and bloody-mindedness comes through and we find another way of coping.

Something that has been on the cards now for at least 2 years is a new website, one that will not only be easy for you to navigate but also help us out with the ever-increasing levels of admin.

Over the course of a year before commissioning the new website we undertook various time and motion studies, work logs, customer comments and questionaires and have tried to iron out presenting issues as much as we can with features integrated within the new website.

We have tried to keep the feel of the old HF site with similar colourways but have (we hope) taken in a big step further into an efficient E-Commerce site without losing the personal touches.  We didn’t want HF to become ‘Faceless’, it is still Kev and Sally just with a bit of botox to try and make life easier for us and you.

The new website does indeed look shiny and pretty but it is also very practical and we have tried to make it ‘intuitive’.  What you can see and play with now is the fully functional first phase.  This is the foundation E-Commerce site which will enable us to build customer levels back up to fund our continued growth and further development not just in the other planned phases of the website but also in our release schedule and what we offer you as customers.

The second phase will add extra features, some of which will be led by you in your feedback forms that we hope you will fill in for us online eiother as questionairres or forum polls.  We have always been ‘customer-led’ and this aspect hasn’t changed.

1:  Tidier front page:

For you:  Shopping and browsing at the top,  latest releases as scrolling images just in case you missed something, news and notifications in the middle including Facebook, legal and other stuff at the bottom.  We have tried to put the stuff you look at most often near the top so you don’t have to keep scrolling to find things.

For us:
  Easier to update means as regulations change we can ensure we comply straight away, images of releases stay on the front page longer so we get less emails asking about figure x,y,z and if it has been released yet.

2:   Customer accounts: 

For you:    These will enable you to track your order and see when it is despatched, you will also receive an email when your order is shipped complete with tracking info if you have chosen that shipping option.  You will also be able to select different addresses for orders to go to.  Orders placed but needing to go on hold for a few days can be stored in your account.  We are also adding ‘wishlists’ and the ability to store credit vouchers in your account so you don’t need to rely on us to manually process anything anymore and if you lose your balance slip you can check online.

For us:      Less emails querying order statuses means less admin time. Currently we manually email when an order is shipped but now we just press a button and it does it for us. Credit balances stored in your accounts means less admin for us

3:  Online stock levels: 

For you:    These will show you if something you want is in or out of stock.  These means less back orders and more efficient shopping for you.  Pictures of codes that are currently out of stock will still show, you just won’t be able to add them to your basket.
If a pack is made from multiple single codes then it won’t let you add the pack if one of the codes is out of stock, again removing the chaos of back orders.
Adding soon are email notifications so that if you want something that is out of stock the website will email you when it comes back in stock.

For us: No more manual stock checks, no more back orders which cost time, money and packaging resources,  less emailing of notifications.  We also have a facility where we can now see which codes will need restocking in what period of time based on current sales which allows us to restock more often as we need it rather than just guessing if we don’t have time for a full stock check.

4:  Searching. 

For you:  The database has been updated with tags for product codes.  Only basic ones are in at the moment but it will make browsing easier for you.  New tags will be added as new media/ranges develop. Tags being added reflect popular culture and weapons as well as genres.

For us:  less emails asking if we still sell x,y,z and if so where is it as you can’t find it.

5:  Streamlined product categories: 

For you :  One of the usual gripes with the old site was that things got ‘hidden’ in multiple layers as the ranges expanded over the years.  The new site has made browsing easier with a main category bar across the top with pulldown menus…less clicks to find what you want has got to be easier.  The control panel also allows us to enter product codes into multiple categories whilst still taking from the same stock levels and using the same information.

For us:  Easier manipulation of the control panel on the server lets us recategorise and cross-post codes into categories to make your browsing more efficient whilst minimising admin time this end.  It also allows us to easily add new categories as well as short runs of items efficiently so that we can clear out the odds and ends that you guys say you want to buy but the labour needed to do that on the old system makes this unviable.

6:  Product codes:

For you:  everything has a code, so instead of lists on item pages you now have a code and an associated thumbnail for everything  we have…less scrolling through deeper shop levels for you and less potential mistakes in your orders.

For us:  Efficient stock checking.  Easier order picking, easier restocking.

7:  Shipping prices.

For you:  Everything in the shop has been weighed.  There is a shipping matrix that has been implemented that will calculate your shipping costs based on where you live, what service you choose and the weight of your order.  Some prices on items will now fall as they had a shipping supplement previously added to them to cover the heavier weight/shipping costs.

For us:  Shipping has been an area where we have consistently lost money over the years with us having to price some lower priced but heavier items higher than they need to in order to try and cover the shipping costs for that item.

8:  Payment system.

For you:   Issues with Paypal have meant that we relied on a manual invoicing system with the old website, now when you proceed through to payment you will automatically be directed to the secure server for both Paypal and Credit Card payments.

For us:   We will halve the amount of paper/toner we use immediately for order processing.  Time we currently use directly for order processing will also reduce by about 50%  immediately with a knock-on effect to other admin systems including emails when Paypal mucks something up or an invoice gets lost!

9:  Promotions

For you:  More efficient use of promo codes that don’t rely on manually processing orders or refunds.  Codes can be entered at checkout for specific discounts or cross-purchasing.

For us:  Less admin and manual processing = more efficient.

10:  VAT implementation

For you: If you are shopping from a country that doesn’t need to pay UK VAT then you can purchase without paying it, this means ultimately you get more for your money.  UK customers however still have to pay VAT, sorry but we can’t do anything about that as much as we would like to.

For us: Fairer pricing for you means happier customers and less emails asking if we can refund VAT!


Overall we have tried to take away a lot of the old manual systems that relied on people (specifically Sally most of the time) for interventions.  This means we can train staff easily in the current computerised systems and give Sally time to rest when she needs it therefore reducing the admin backlog she seems permanently trapped under.  This means that when she is ill or the kids are on school holidays then HF won’t stop and she can focus on things that aren’t essential  for daily admin but things that will help us get new figures to you more efficiently including keeping on top of productions schedules, maintaining cashflow, newsletters and notifications, advertising and PR (plus cracking a whip over Kevs head).

The new website allows us to delay the publication of front page new notices to specific dates and also allow us to keep new products on the system but hidden so if a release is due it can still go ahead with a click of a button whether we are away or if Sally is ill.

Phase 2 of the new website will go ahead in January. 

The workbench facility will be active by then as will also other older features like ‘Fluff’ and ‘tutorials’ .  There might not be a lot of other noticeable changes on your side however for us there will be more interventions that allow us to more efficiently function as a business and will include allowing us to produce specific financial reports including VAT, range sales without manually writing excel spreadsheets or adding up sale lists.  This will reduce admin yet again and ensure we don’t keep falling behind with our taxes and bills, something that again happens when Sally is ill and leads to the knock-on effects of slower email responses and late releases as she deals with the urgent stuff first.  We are also hoping that the entire catalogue will also be downloadable as a pdf by this stage.
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