Elite Firearms Sales approached Atwoodz with a unique request of integrating multi-vendor product feeds from firearm distributors into a stand-alone budgeted WordPress/Woocommerce store solution, and not use a hosted solution that they don’t own. They were just starting their business and needed something to get them off the ground with two different product feeds from two different distributors and it needed to get indexed on Google immediately. One of the platforms out there was Woocommerce, but we knew that it is great for getting your products and site indexed by Google. But would Woocommerce be able to handle a few thousand products and two daily product updates for inventory and new products. We cautioned the client about being optimistic with such a solution as WordPress and Woocommerce that wasn’t really made to sell anything, but really just be a glorified well indexed non-searchable/non-filterable catalog.
We began by reaching out to the companies the client was interested in getting their products from and although they were responsive, they really didn’t have any documentation, or support for their product feeds. They all continued (even to this day) to push for the vendors that they promote on their websites’ for their hosted solutions. Which is understandable being that we develop software and we are a business – you don’t want to deal with daily questions and issues from every developer a new retailer hires. But as with all Atwoodz solutions, we’d rather you go with something you own and can use as an asset and value to your business, rather than lease something that can, at any point, be shutdown or erased and you have no control over it. So after putting together bits and pieces of their partial documentation, and then with almost 20 years of experience doing this sort of project, we felt that we could confidently, but cautiously get the job done with the platform of WordPress.
The first few weeks definitely made us second guess if you could integrate their products with any ecommerce solution that was out there. Our platform of choice would have been Magento and using APIs to pulling in the products, but there were still holes in their integration documentation that kept leading us in circles back to the same issues of inventory updates and duplicate products with one of the feeds. We were also up against a vendor (RSR Group) that didn’t have API support, or at least won’t allow someone who is a non preferred development company such as us. The attributes in the industry of firearms is also a necessity and the lacking documentation added another layer of difficulty with this. We had multiple CSVs to deal with and the common identifier in the different CSVs were either inconsistent or non-existent. So we had to improvise and use additional information from other CSV sources to achieve our objective, so we would find a manufacturer number in one CSV and then have to tie that to a sku in another and loop the manufacturer number back from the sku in a 3rd CSV – and this is all from the same vendor.
Obviously this task was not going to be easy, but we have been writing our own ecommerce platforms and customizing others’ for 17 years. As well as we were the first company to offer multi-vendor shipping through our EZosCommerce product well before anyone had ever thought of drop shipping from different sources out of one store, so we knew nothing comes easy.
After finishing the RSR Group feed, updating product inventories and finally getting the attributes to map without a SKU to identity products, we were able to make the left hand attribute filter work on all the accessories for the site. Then we went after the firearms feed from Lipsey’s – we waited on the important part because the client was still in the process of providing an FFL to the vendor – and that feed gave us duplicate product issues every time it updated the inventory, so we had to find a different method of bringing the firearm products in.
Lipsey’s did offer an API and we preferred to use it, so we could get live inventory updates, but we found that in combination with Woocommerce, it was producing duplicate products. So with even less documentation, we utilized the FTP route as we were using with RSR Group. We were able to replicate a Plugin that we created for RSR Group and in turn use the duplicate plugin to bring in the Lipsey’s products. After a bit of back and forth, we were able to establish a consistent connection to both feeds from each of the vendors and were successful in making WordPress and Woocommerce both work with 15,000 products in the store. We were so confident throughout the project that we launched the accessory portion of the site and began to take sales – which surprised our client, because they didn’t know that when Atwoodz deploys a store or comprehensive ecommerce solution, you start making money almost right away.
Elite Firearm Sales is now fully functioning and taking orders. Of course there will be more additions to the site, but we just want to let you know, that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars and not own your website and software, in order to sell firearms. You can outright have your own gun store and take it with you wherever you would like to go – and it is an asset and a value to your business. If you’d like to char with us on what type of solution we could come up with for your business, go to our contact page and fill out the form, or just call us with that phone icon in the lower right side of the window.
We’ll follow up this article with a better scope and case studio article that touches on what solutions we used to solve Shipping Issues with the store.