We spoke with Michael Nielsen from Ørskov Gruppen, a Danish agency, to find out about their recent project, pairing Umbraco with Vendr to create an eCommerce solution which allows their client, Folkeuniversitetet, to market and sell their courses.
Ørskov Gruppen A/S has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and communication. We create both on and offline solutions for clients of every size. Our motto is: Our customer's success is also our own success. We are both Umbraco Gold Partners and an Umbraco Cloud Powerhouse. The client for this project, is Folkeuniversitetet i København (Open University of Copenhagen), which holds courses and lectures in all scientific disciplines - from astronomy and biology to art history, music and literature, all open to the public.
The client was looking to replace their existing web solution, to solve some performance and stability issues, but also to get a more user-friendly site, with a modern and responsive design. This project would not be a usual ecommerce project, as the products are not physical, but are courses users sign up and pay for. The clients target group are primarily pensioners, who might not be very experienced with online shopping. Easily navigating the site, and finding the courses or lectures, the users are looking for was therefore also a priority. Twice a year the client opens up for signing up to the next semester at specific dates at 9 am. With a lot of popular courses, with limited seats, that generates a lot of traffic and orders within a very short span of time, and we needed to make sure the site could handle this. Other requirements from the client, was integration to Microsoft Nav, for importing products, stock integration and exporting orders. They also wished for a better and easier workflow for their content editors.
The client's existing web solution was built in Umbraco v4, with a custom ecommerce implementation. They were used to and happy to work with Umbraco, and after showcasing Umbraco version 8, they were excited to see the changes and possibilities. We then researched the ecommerce possibilities for Umbraco, we knew we needed something that could do a lot out-of-the-box, but that was also easy to extend and simple to integrate. We knew of Vendr from within the Umbraco community, and at this stage it was still in development. But after speaking with the Vendr team about our project and understanding the Vendr's timelines for release, we decided that it would be a good fit for the client and their requirements. Plus it was cool to be the very first Vendr licence holder! We liked Vendr for it's simplicity, but also for it's flexibility in being fully extendable, and the way it is tailored to Umbraco 8, not only the UX, but also how you implement it.
While the project might not be usual for an ecommerce project, Vendr could handle most of the needed features out-of-the-box, and would have the flexibility to be easily extended if needed. A good example of this, is users should be able to sign up to multiple courses, and be able to sign others up too. We needed to be able to bind the signup information (name, address and so on) to individual orderlines, which is extremely easy with Vendr, as you can just add any information as custom properties on orderlines. We used Examine to create search & filtering options, and used this for product lists, making it easier and faster for users to find the courses they were interested in. Vendr has an easy-to-use API, which we used to integrate Vendr with Microsoft Nav, for updating products with price and stock information, and exporting orders back to Microsoft Nav. Vendr’s API was also used to create a Maintenance Dashboard to give the editors a quick and easy way, to delete older orders, to comply with GDPR.
Before launch, we did some stress-tests, to check performance and stability under a heavy load, and were quite happy with what we could see. When the client opened up for signups for the next semester, after launching the new site, we could see that the site performed very well, even with a lot of traffic and orders being placed. Within the first 5 minutes, 350 orders had been placed, and the response time for the site, stayed below 100ms at all times. The client is very happy with the outcome, they find it very easy to work with. And perhaps most importantly for them and us, since they were accustomed to working with Umbraco, they did not need any training when it came to using Vendr.
If you already know Umbraco, Vendr is very easy to get started with. The learning curve here is almost completely flat. Installing and configuring is quite simple and fast, a working ecommerce site can be setup in a very short time. During development of projects, we’ve been in contact with Vendr support, reported bugs and suggested enhancements. There has always been great communication and cooperation with answering questions, fixing bugs and adding suggested enhancements.
While this was our first project with Vendr, we’ve since developed 4 more projects using it, and will be using Vendr for further projects in the future.
Michael Nielsen, Ørskov Gruppen.