Hranipex Company

Hranipex Company

Architecturing a furniture market leader e-commerce platform

The world is full of edges

Before we started to work with Hranipex we didn’t even know that such a huge market exists. The fact is that every manufacturer of furniture needs furniture edgings. And Hranipex annually makes thousands of kilometers of edgings for whole Europe. Their yearly edgings production would literally wrap the globe around the equator.

Read more about how we helped Hranipex build a solid online presence and start selling edges online in 10+ countries across Europe.

Furniture edgings for whole Europe

Since its foundation Hranipex has been growing rapidly, and has become the leader on the Central European market. From its Czech headquarters it manages subsidiaries in countries from the UK to Belarus. It’s business is orientated mostly to the B2B segment and for a long time there was no need to have anything more than a multilingual web presentation.

Hranipex is in the top 10% of Czech privately held companies and its drive and progression is an example for others.

Enhancing online sales in the B2B segment

Back in 2007 Hranipex came to us with a wish to rebuild their company website and create a communication interface connected with their internal information system. This would allow them to present real time supplies on stock and potentially enable furniture producers to buy products online.

Connecting two software Mastodons

After our initial research we knew that the website would be the easy part but the API communicating between the information system (QAD MFG/PRO enterprise resource planning software) and the web portal would be a little tough.

MISSION:
Build the largest
FURNITURE EDGINGS
multilingual e-commerce

Initial client's requirements

  • Taking data from the enterprise IS and show online real-time stock in warehouses
  • Enabling B2B users to create orders on the web and send it into to the IS for standard sales process
  • Pairing newly registered customers with existing ones in the CRM
  • Keep the whole thing replicable for other EU subsidaries and country base storehouses

In cooperation with Minerva a.s., main supplier of MFG/PRO in Czech Republic, we spent a couple of weeks searching for the optimal solution, and in the end we realised what we expected from the beginning - we had to write the communication API from scratch.

Architecturing the API

For several weeks we were studying MFG/PRO documentation and our development team has spent tens of hours architecturing the data connector and investigating the best way how to build it scalable and replicable for other standalone subsidiaries. We had to keep in mind that Hranipex is a progressive company and opens new subsidiaries on emerging markets such us Belarus, Romania, Lithuania etc. So we came up with a solution which offers to launch local portals gathering data from a central (Czech) warehouse and once is everything ready, the data connector is switched to the local warehouse software.

Programmers on site

During this project we also tested a good practice which is to take programmers to see the company daily business - in this case how those huge edgings reels are produced in the 10 000 m2 big Hranipex plant. Real life experience from the customers production environment brings the programmers closer to the customer, and it’s also helpful when we create personas (fictional characters created to represent the different user types).

Web presentation for 10+ subsidiaries, each with multiple languages

One of the important parts of web presentation was to align perfectly with the business strategy. Each subsidiary resides in a specific state and it can support more language versions in one country. The system was designed to support unlimited number of countries and each of them can have unlimited number of language versions (including Cyrilic or Arabic characters - we want to be ready for everything).

The UI/UX was prepared in cooperation with our stable partners and creative wizards from Bioport. Based on workshops with clients and wireframes we tried to create fresh corporate presentation with user optimized e-commerce section. Here you can see how the site introduced in 2008 looked like.

SEO, Analytics, online marketing

After the new website was launched we were asked to help with SEO. Altough COEX is primarily a software house many of us have a deep knowledge of how search engines work, and even if we don’t advertise it, we offer mainly on-page SEO services to our customers. We never want to be an advertising agency or commercial creators but we don’t have a problem with technical part of the job.

So we’ve took some measurements - together with the customer we created lists of the most important keywords, did competitive analysis, created ladders of search engine results and suggested on-page changes. Most of them were about proper copywriting of META parameters and suggesting to add semantic content on the products and categories. A couple of weeks after that, Hranipex held first positions on most of the phrases and the organic visitors amount was growing significantly.

Robust architectureand powerful framework

After 6 weeks of software design and development we had completed the communication bridge between internal MFG/PRO system and the online server. The crucial proceses were smoothly communicating both ways and it was confirmed that we successfully overcame potential bottlenecks in peaks. Syncronization of tens of thousands stock items in hourly periods were fast enough to eliminate any delays or mismatched data.

We had to solve some issues, such as pairing new customers registered on the portal with different credentials than those existing in the system. After some time of testing it was also concluded that real time syncronization of tens of thousands stock items causes too big data traffic and changed the solution to periodical synchronization.
The website administration and also some basic configurations for data communicator is managed by Django Admin which is our main tool for back office on Python projects. It offers plain yet powerful tools for administration of literally any data contained in database and our Python magicians can bend it to any imaginable need.

In this case it was important to use one back office for all subsidiaries and also provide super admins (company headquarters) with ability to manage any of the national websites

With Hranipex we have a long and stable partnership and in 2014 we launched a heavily updated and innovated version of whole solution. It’s our pleasure to be the IT partner of such a huge and progressive Czech company, which has grown from a regional small business into globally operating multinational corporation.

Ivos Gajdorus, CEO of COEX

Conclusions and takeaways

After the launch of the Czech headquarter in 2008 we were launching a couple of subsidiaries every year. As time went, we were asked to add new functions and optimize the system - number of portals and users went up and we had to add caching layers. Huge solutions like this required SLA service and regular maintenance and monitoring. We provide Hranipex with our 24/7 hotline, administrator support and they have also our package of backuping and monitoring services.