B2C SOLUTIONS

Nibs.com

When you specialize in high-end customized products, you need a B2C ecommerce site that can handle complexity with ease.

Project highlights


Workflow planning,
automation & architecture

Order processing &
fulfillment integrations

Seamless & consistent
shopping experience

Nibs case study

 

Building ideal customer experiences for direct-to-consumer sales.

Creating a best-in-class user experience for B2C is accomplished using a visually data-driven approach to allow for easy shopping on complex and customizable products, paired with the right technical architecture, and a comprehensive look at your entire digital ecosystem. This kind of digital transformation leads to:

  • Self-serve shopping on highly customized and complex products; a guided buyer’s journey that is perfectly tailored.
  • Maximum agility and adaptability through systems integrations connect your operations; the behind-the-scenes team is using their data to both populate the ecommerce platform, and hand-make orders.
  • A seamless and consistent shopping experience regardless of where and when they engage with your brand.
  • Optimal conversions with complex product options & content personalization driven by internal data sources — each shopper is getting that unique buying experience that converts.

Our work with Nibs.com showcases the versatility of an open source commerce platform paired with a world-class content management system. It also shows how Acro Media can harness that mobility to build the site your customers want, no matter the complexity of your product offerings. Telling a brand’s story is as important as displaying products when it comes to customized purchases with high-value price tags.

Nibs case study

Background

A B2C retailer ready to digitally transform their business.

Nibs.com focuses on the custom design and creation of high-end fountain pens. Each part of the pen can be customized for the end user’s preferences, from the grip and nib material to nib properties and tip measurement. They’ve been online since 1996, but their sales process was entirely manual. This is a work of art and science combined, and being purchased virtually; recreating the experience of telling the story and showing the craftsmanship of these pieces was a challenge.

The challenge

Nibs.com knew they had to become an ecommerce retailer. Prior to the site build, users could only place orders over the phone. That limited the company’s fulfillment because the sales team could only handle so much traffic at any one time. They were also limited by the number of available phones and staff on hand to accept orders. This created a bottleneck that ultimately led to missed sales opportunities.

Since their products are so unique, Nibs.com needed a custom solution. The Drupal CMS was selected for the content and brand story, and an open commerce platform paired up for its flexibility to handle unique purchase flows and product variations and minute details needed for each product to be perfectly unique.

Objective

Creating workflows that worked for the entire business, not just ecommerce.

First, we needed to establish a new process for the business. This required a thorough visualization discovery process, which involved prototyping the site before going into production. We needed to create a solid architecture solution that would leave their customers with a simplified user flow and positive experience with no need to pick up the phone during the purchasing cycle.

The prototype helped establish specific functionality and page flows to handle complex product customizations. We knew that not all customers would be familiar with some of the more advanced customizations, so integrating helpful content into the buying process — without derailing the customer — would be crucial to the final solution.

Complicated logic had to be developed to ensure the appropriate options were presented to the customer while they customized their pen.

  • Pens are paired with nibs, but the compatibility of the pen and nib is different depending on the specific pen and brand. 
  • The nib customization is dependent on the pen/nib combination. 
  • Right-handed folks and lefties get different offerings 
  • On a particular brand of pen, customers have the option to customize their pens even further with additions such as Kanji--text that will be converted to Japanese characters and embedded in the barrel of the pen. 
  • The company also needed to be able to highlight nib options that were possible, but not recommended.

On top of this, Nibs.com had to have a unique order and payment process that fit their fulfillment timeline and a massive integration to Quickbooks that ran their back of the house, entirely. As their products are all custom and therefore unique, additional planning, architecture, and development were needed to incorporate this into the purchase flow.

Solution

Modules and integrations to solve the most complex business functions.

To facilitate the unique payment timeline on the fulfillment side, we created an automated system where pens are purchased using pre-authorized payments. However, the customer's card is not charged until the pen is shipped, which could be more than six months away in some cases, and a typical pre-authorization lasts no more than 30 days. So we developed a payment process implementing reference transactions. This allowed Nibs.com to charge cards at a much later date without having to contact the customer to authorize their card again—hand-building a craftsman quality pen takes time.

We used the following custom modules to solve the issues surrounding the project:

  • Commerce PayPal Express Checkout — Given Nibs.com's authorization/capture workflow, Commerce PayPal was a clear choice, as it is mostly plug-and-play. With advanced features configurable via the PayPal side, not much configuration was needed to get the desired functionality right out of the box.
  • Commerce QuickBooks Webconnect — Like many businesses that use QuickBooks for their accounting needs, Nibs.com wanted a bridge between their website and accounting software. This module provided a good base for that bridge. We rounded this off with a bit of custom code to allow Nibs.com to push the stock back up to Drupal from QuickBooks.
  • Commerce ShipStation — Commerce ShipStation is a robust service that streamlines processing, fulfillment, and shipping. This module made integration a breeze and worked exactly as desired out of the box.
  • Rules — The Rules module is a requirement for Drupal Commerce 1.x and is therefore found on every site built on Drupal Commerce. However, we leveraged the module's power greatly in this project to carry out many things such as dynamic pricing changes, automatic publishing and unpublishing, and much more. This project required many custom conditions and actions, most of which could be reused throughout different areas of the project.

Nibs.com continues to take orders over the phone in addition to the web orders. Because of this, the admin order process included additional development to streamline the order process for salespeople taking orders over the phone. This included building the order form as an inline entity for orders placed in the back end. This allows Nibs.com's salespeople to place items in an order and group items that belong to each other using a drag-and-drop interface.

Outcome

The result has been an increase in units per transaction and a simplified process for their salespeople. Because of the digital commerce setup’s adaptability, we could work around QuickBooks, which meant that Nibs.com's business operations could stay much the same in the physical sense. This minimized staff training and allowed their business to keep running seamlessly, as we integrated this new system with their existing operations.

Since this site has been built, Nibs.com has seen its business more than double.

Project features


Product focused CMS capable of complex customization options.

Modules and integrations to solve the most complex business functions.

Scalable technology that grows with, and enhances, the business.

Improved experience design

BEFORE

Nibs case study

AFTER

Nibs case study

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