Case Study | E-Commerce and Retail Store

07/06/24 10:26 Comment(s)

E-Commerce and Retail Store


Executive Summary  

The retail store is a proudly South African e-commerce and retail specialist who trade in premium gym wear both locally and internationally. They boast impressive sales channels, which consists of a contemporary Shopify online store, a Shopify point-of-sale (POS) and a more traditional business-to-business (B2B) channel for custom clothing orders. Despite being in operation for only three years, the retail store manages all aspects of its operations internally, from material sourcing and manufacturing to warehousing and packaging - with the only exception being order fulfillment and delivery which is performed by local and international third party logistics.


Initial engagements with the retail store commenced with a Process Complexity Analysis (PCA) workshop aimed at capturing their existing business processes, systems, stakeholders, customer journeys, and reporting requirements. Following the insights gathered from the PCA, a high-level Ecosystem Solution Design (ESD) was then developed to illustrate the proposed data architecture, encompassing recommended Zoho apps and how they would interact with their existing non-Zoho related apps / software systems.


The PCA and ESD served as a blueprint for forthcoming configurations and systems integrations, and the intersectional nature of the two punctuated the primary goal of the implementation:

To equip the retail store with a centralised platform that consolidates customer information from various omnichannel touchpoints and substantiates a single customer view for all sales, marketing, support and reporting needs.

Problem Statement 

Lack of a centralised platform to consolidate customer information from various sources, hindering the establishment of a comprehensive single customer view and resulting in fragmented customer journeys, scattered customer data and the need to manage multiple software interfaces operating in silos.

Key Challenges 

A pure no-code solution

  • Explanation: a key aspect of this implementation was to refrain from using any custom code and to stick to no-code configurations for all applicable Zoho apps.
  • Reasoning: in line with the goal of providing the retail store with a scalable solution, i.e. a solution they are fully empowered to run and amend by themselves, we needed to implement a system that is easy to use and that can be self-serviced without any coding or scripting expertise.

    Native as far as possible

    • Explanation: a key aspect of this implementation was to refrain from using any paid third party marketplace extensions and to abide by native app features and / or free ancillary solutions.
    • Reasoning: in line with the goal of providing the retail store with a scalable solution, the total licensing structure between various applications needed to be cost effective - thus the need to stick to free Zoho Marketplace extensions and find ways to work around or reduce the impact of their limitation

      Attempting to replicating functionalities from previously utilised apps / software systems

      • Explanation: as with the adoption of any new software, users often long for certain features that were previously available in their old app software / software system. In the case of the retail store, the most prominent instance of this was trying to replicate the functionalities of Omnisend in Zoho Marketing Automation
      • Reasoning: Omnisend is fully integrated with Shopify and capable of reading, writing and sending discount codes in email campaigns, whereas Marketing Automation is partially integrated with Shopify and only capable of reading discount codes.

      Evaluation of the Problem

      As highlighted in the Executive Summary, the implementation for the retail store consisted of a Process Complexity Analysis (PCA) workshop, followed by a Ecosystem Solution Design (ESD), and finally the configuration and rollout of the proposed solution.

      Process Complexity Analysis (PCA) workshop:


      PCA is a methodology used to evaluate and understand the intricacies of various processes within an organisation. In the case of the retail store, it involved the systematic examining of various components, steps, interactions, dependencies, and decision points within their existing processes. We aimed to quantify and qualify the level of complexity present in their processes, which included factors such as the number of steps, the number of decision points, the level of interdependence between steps, the variability in inputs and outputs, and the level of expertise required to execute the process effectively.


      By conducting the PCA workshop, we were able to gain insights into the challenges and inefficiencies within their existing processes, identify potential bottlenecks or points of failure, and pinpoint opportunities for improvement and optimisation.

      Ecosystem Solution Design (ESD):


      Furthermore, the PCA also informed decision-making in the Ecosystem Solution Design (ESD) phase, which refers to the strategic planning of a comprehensive data infrastructure within an ecosystem. The ESD addressed key components such as data collection, ingestion, processing, storage and integration.


      Please see the Proposed Solution for more info.

      Closing evaluation remarks:


      Besides the individual relevance of the PCA and ESD, the intersected observation of the two informed various other aspects of the implementation as well - such as the overall degree of automation, resource allocation and training strategies to enhance overall efficiency, productivity, and implementation success.


      In order to avoid the drawbacks of siloed design approaches, the project adopted an innovative "end in mind" strategy. This entailed giving priority to user requirements by initially envisioning the ultimate dashboard metrics desired by various stakeholders. By using this reverse-engineering approach the development endeavors were directed towards attaining precise goals, reducing the risk of creating unnecessary features, and ensuring that the final system harmoniously met the varied expectations of all stakeholders.

      Proposed Solution 

      Based on the Process Complexity Analysis (PCA) and Ecosystem Solution Design (ESD), we concluded that the following functions and data architecture for the various applications would be optimal for the Company:

      Application FunctionData InflowData Outflow
      (online and POS)
      The spawning point for B2C customers and order facilitationRaw customer data
      (names, contact details, addresses, etc.)
      Customers, Products and Orders data pushed to Zoho CRM and Zoho Marketing Automation
      Zoho CRM
      The spawning point for B2B customers and consolidated platform for single customer view and internal operationsShopify B2C Customers, Products and Orders followed by various data points from all the applicable Zoho appsData integrations to all applicable Zoho apps
      Zoho DeskSingle platform to facilitate all customer support queriesWhatsApps, Instagram, Facebook, emails and "Contact Us" support queries from customersTickets data pushed to customers in Zoho CRM and Zoho Social
      Zoho Marketing Automation
      Automated customer journey for abandoned carts, purchase follow-ups and moreShopify B2C customers and CRM B2B customersMarketing campaigns data pushed to customers in Zoho CRM
      Zoho Social
      Overview of various social channel performances and tool to make and manage postsInstagram, Facebook, YouTube, Google Reviews and Google Q&ASocial media post and engagements data pushed to Zoho CRM and Zoho Desk
      Zoho ProjectsProject planning tool for internal projects and all events, including the tracking of budget vs actual costs and resource utlisationInternal portal users from Zoho PeopleProject and costing data pushed to Zoho CRM and Zoho Expense
      Zoho ExpenseCapturing and tracking of employee expense and project costs Internal portal users from Zoho People and ongoing projects from Zoho ProjectsCost data pushed to Zoho CRM and
      Zoho Projects
      Zoho PeopleCentral management tool for employee onboarding, employment contracts, etc.
      Users listed in Zoho One
      User data pushed to Zoho Projects and Zoho Expense
      Zoho FormsLead-generation for
      B2B customers

      N/ACompleted forms generate B2B leads in Zoho CRM
      Zoho AnalyticsAdvanced native reporting
      All applicable apps
      in the ESD




      Following the implementation, the retail store has become the beneificiary to a comprehensive customer relationship management system that's fully integrated with their sales, marketing, and support channels - successfully supporting the idea of a holistic single customer view based on all omnichannel touchpoints.


      The result is a tangible increase in the utility of previously fragmented customer data and establishing a unified and standardised platform to service customers - something which had previously been unattainable. This digital transformation yielded discernable return on investment (ROI) through operational streamlining, and the implementation of an iterative and scalable solution aims to ensure that this ROI continues in perpetuity.