Open-source platforms like Drupal Commerce provide businesses with a solution that can do it all, but only if there is the right experience and knowledge to back it. This is what lead to the revitalization of Sandler’s tech stack. After falling short with their initial Drupal Commerce project, their team contacted Acro Media to pick up the pieces and build the solution they were initially promised.
Sandler, a sales training leader in the Global market, required an experienced open-source ecommerce agency to help them implement detailed inventory tracking, simplify and enhance their user experience, and streamline backend administration tasks.
Selling study books relating to the courses they offer is the primary function of the Sandler online store. Prior to working with Acro Media, Sandler’s ecommerce setup was quite basic. A simple “want” that they had was to be able to offer specific books to their students relating to the course in which they were enrolled. At the time of writing, Sandler had 20,500 students enrolled around the world, so there were many product variations to consider. This created extensive user experience problems that Sandler looked to Acro Media to address.
Another key issue was that Sandler’s head office could not track students enrolled with their franchisees, or each franchises inventory levels. This was leading to lost revenue for Sandler, something that quickly needed addressing.
"Prior to 2017, the site recorded around 360,000 sessions per year. Post-launch, there were nearly 1,000,000 sessions in 2017."
We began with a visualization process. This rapid iteration prototyping allows creative designers, software engineers, and all stakeholders to experience the requirements of the website in an interactive way that allows for quick changes and direct feedback. Customer flows and usability can be quickly tweaked and edited, trying out new ideas and accommodate changing specs, all before any larger investment in actual development is made. It’s a low-risk way to clearly establish all the required functionality prior to any software development. Once the visualization was mapped out and signed off, we moved to the next issue.
In order to address inventory and enrollment accounting issues Sandler was experiencing, we created a Single Sign-On (SSO) implementation through Drupal. This allows students to be registered in one system, with accurate tracking of their sales history, learning materials and course registration throughout the Sandler ecommerce website and training platform.
The key to making this happen was to create an integration with Totara, Sandler’s LMS (Learning Management System). That way, students and instructors could transition from viewing grades and course reports to purchasing products and assigning users to courses. We also created the ability to integrate with other systems, such as centralized authentication with LDAP for Totara and customer relationship management with Infusionsoft. This gave franchisees the ability to sign in from anywhere in the world; it also featured multi-language capabilities.
Integrating Totara with the store is done by selling seats for courses and managing enrollment of users in those seats. Actions that happen on the Drupal side update Totara via its API. This allowed us to make administrator user experience improvements such as allowing a franchise to enroll groups in courses instead of just individuals.
The API integration also created the ability for self-registration. Customizable landing pages allowed clients to register themselves, saving franchises from having to manually collect and enter their clients’ data.
The performance of the website saw a huge improvement. Prior to 2017, the site recorded around 360,000 sessions per year. Post-launch, there were nearly 1,000,000 sessions in 2017.
With the site’s new functionality, Sandler has also noticed the increased efficiency of their processes. Plus, they now have the ability to continue to expand and develop. This resulted in greater revenue and sales, which are continuing on an upward trend. We continue to work with Sandler as we continuously develop new features to promote additional sales and increase productivity.