The Irish Times' objective was to create a high-end “daily deals” ecommerce website that would target a very specific and well-researched market. Whilst only a few web pages are visible to the customer , the level of technology required “under the hood” made this a complex website to develop.
The project needed to incorporate the best practices of a daily deals ecommerce model with the accounting practices of the Irish Times and the requirements of their marketing department.
A daily deals site relies on certain activities being performed at key points – these include the promotion period, the selling period, a cooling-off period post sale, a refund period and a redemption period
Each of these ‘windows’ needed to be incorporated into the site’s cash management and other process – so for example when a deal goes live the first few payments are authorized (on credit cards ) or accepted (on debit cards) for both Realex and Paypal. However if the deal does not ‘tip’ (i.e. there are insufficient purchases to make the deal viable) the payment authorization is cancelled (credit cards) or refunded (debit cards).
Third party merchants who offer the deals are also key users - the website allows them to see what vouchers have been generated, mark used vouchers and make use of a number of reporting tools.
SAP / Aprimo / Ad Server Integration
One of the main challenges facing large companies entering eCommerce is integration with existing systems. For this project, integration with Irish Times’ accounting package (SAP) and enterprise marketing suite (Aprimo) were essential. During certain windows each the deal’s lifecycle, the various debits and credits are consolidated and fed into SAP. Similarly each deal’s customer details and preferences are passed on to Aprimo.
The final piece of the integration jigsaw is an XML feed, which is used by their ad server to serve real-time ads on the latest deals in the main Irish Times website and in other properties.
The entire site, including CMS for holding and a back-end that holds merchant details, is built using Magento. Magento’s own catalogue functionality is used to insert the deal descriptions and images.
A well-researched idea targeted at a well-understood demographic and delivered through an attractively designed and robust website (though we say it ourselves) proved a winning formula. Turnover in the very first weekend of operation alone far exceeded the website development costs.