Since 1979, Osborne Wood Products has supplied high-quality wood components for the cabinet and furniture industry. Osborne partnered with Happy Cog to develop a refreshed e-commerce website that would be their foundation for future growth, with a focus on infrastructure and integration over new functionality and features. The new website is built on Craft CMS and Craft Commerce, and relies heavily on a tight custom integration with Osborne’s back-end ERP system. This modern CMS platform, along with targeted upgrades to high-touch front-end workflows, provides substantial improvement for customers and content authors while maintaining the critical connection to Osborne’s existing business and shipping operations.
Improvements Today, and a Modern Foundation for Tomorrow
Osborne spent years developing and refining the custom ERP solution that powers their business and shipping operations. As Osborne’s business grew, the scope of their ERP expanded, and effort necessarily shifted toward operations and fulfillment over customer experience and content management. Meanwhile, new marketing efforts began to surface pain points and limitations in the ERP’s content management abilities, and customers began to expect more out of online checkout processes.
Ultimately Osborne was seeking a solution that would offer the stability of maintaining their existing ERP system, while addressing some prominent content management shortcomings, and creating a flexible foundation for future enhancements.
Embrace Craft, Rely on the ERP
We were confident that Craft CMS would provide an excellent foundation for future development. By creating a flexible content model, we could allow Osborne to adapt and find new ways to connect with its customers. And Craft’s ease of use would help alleviate many of Osborne’s existing pain points in managing website content.
We were also confident that Craft Commerce would allow us to develop the improved checkout and account experience Osborne’s customers were coming to expect. With a strong portfolio of ecommerce experience, we’re well-equipped to tackle the necessary improvements.
But, deciding how and when data would flow between Craft and the ERP was the key to success, and this depended upon thinking of the ERP as the external source of truth for Craft Commerce. While some data may originate in Craft, like new orders or new customer registrations, its ultimate canonical home would be in the ERP.
Flexibility, Sync, and Small Details
We collaborated with a variety of stakeholders at Osborne to identify content needs, highlight content pain points, and map the flow of data between the two systems. By framing the discussion through various workflows including product creation, online and phone orders, customer service inquiries, and post-payment order modifications, we were able to uncover critical facets of Osborne’s processes and spur internal conversations that led to a broader shared understanding among all involved.
These conversations resulted in a flexible content model that gives Osborne new controls over its page content and promotions, including greater control over homepage content, and the flexibility to create unique landing pages without additional development. The content model also enables experience improvements across the product catalog and checkout workflow, including improved product configuration, significant search upgrades, and a streamlined checkout process.
Most importantly, this mapping also helped us determine how the ERP’s data structure would translate into Craft elements, and identify how and when data would move from one system to another. Because data could originate in both systems, we needed to make sure data could flow in both directions. For elements that originate in Craft, we used a series of transformers to format Craft elements’ data structures and send them to the ERP using the ERP’s API. For elements that originate in the ERP, we built a webhook endpoint that accepts a customized payload that indicates the type of action (create, update, delete) and the updated element data.
Improvements aren’t just limited to the customer experience. In the Craft control panel we focused on surfacing relevant information when it may be needed, like surfacing customer notes and agreed payment terms when creating an order. When viewing orders or customers, we display the ERP identifier and offer one-click links to jump to those elements in the ERP to ease the transition between systems for Osborne staff. And while sync errors are logged for review, we also added the ability for Osborne staff to manually re-fetch any element from the ERP to enable them to attempt to resolve any discrepancies they encounter without interrupting their workflow.
Successful Launch and a Bright Future
The project culminated in a successful launch and a roadmap for future enhancements.