Derwent Pencils

A multi-lingual ecommerce store which integrates with the client’s back-end product and ordering systems.

Derwent Pencils
The client

The Derwent Pencils brand has been in existence since 1832 providing fine-art products, the majority of which are still made in the UK.

The brief

Make a responsive (small screen friendly) site which links with the client’s back-end systems for product, pricing and order data.

The outcome

The Covid lockdowns led to significantly increased sales and the integration with the back-end systems ensured considerable operational efficiencies.

What we did

The redevelopment of this site had a few broad aims:

  • Making the site responsive - the previous version was made before the idea of responsive design for different sized screens had become a “thing”
  • Integrating with the existing product and asset data
  • Integration with back end systems - the client had an existing stock control and invoicing system which they wanted the site to integrate with
  • Be a transactional site which worked across different countries and languages

A whole new CMS
Due to the way the product data was stored meant we had to develop a content management system which could put the products into sections as well as provide page content editing tools which worked across different languages based on the client’s existing language structure.

Additionally a suite of pages to deal with order management was created.

Multiple integrations
The data for this project was coming from several points: a generic product source; a separate asset library; real time stock information, product categorisation and pricing data (which itself was different depending on the country). We developed a feed system which generated a JSON file of product data per language/country which was then read in by the site without additional processing (with the exception of the stock data).

For data going the other way, order data was created in a proprietary XML format so the client’s backend system could process it. Due to limitations in the back end system, different types of products within an order were converted into individual files for processing.

Let’s not forget the front end
While there was a lot of data preparation to be done for this project, it was still an ecommerce site which needed to look good and function well and quickly. Extra pieces of functionality were added after the site’s launch to allow for custom selection of pencils within tins and facet-based filtering of products.

Because the site was taking over from an existing one, we added a complete set of redirects from the old site’s URLs to their equivalents on the redeveloped site.

A lockdown success story
With the site going live just before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, it soon became a success story with customers looking for art products during lockdown. Without knowing it, the system was well “stress-tested” during this period without any problems for either data or the site itself.

Tech stack
  • Stripe
  • .NET Core 3.1
  • Azure CosmosDB
  • SQL Azure
MB’s expertise in web development backed up by agile technical support helped drive significant growth in our global eCommerce channel

John Watkins - Derwent Pencils