In this case study, we interview developer Dan Vandervaart for Enginess, a Canadian digital agency. With more than 22 years of experience in software design and architecture, Dan prides himself on building business applications that drive growth and simplify operational processes.
One of these is Advantage CSP, a powerful content services platform for businesses on which Dan is the lead architect. He recently used this platform for a neat Snipcart integration for YWCA Toronto.
Obviously, we were really interested in knowing more about the whole process.
Based in Toronto, Enginess helps businesses reinvent themselves through digital solutions. As they put it, their purpose is to "assist our clients in realizing the promise and potential of digital transformation for their enterprise.”
As the leading North American Advantage CSP implementation partner, Enginess developers (Dan Vandervaart particularly) are well placed on teaching everything there is to know about the platform.
Way more than a CMS, Advantage is built around enterprise workflow, security, versioning and content management. The number of built-in features is quite impressive.
YWCA Toronto is an association that promotes equality, economic security and lives free from violence through several programs. It was built by and for women and girls.
It aims to be "a leader in transforming the lives of marginalized and disadvantaged women and girls in Toronto."
YWCA Toronto was using an outdated and rigid CMS that prevented the organization from effectively communicating its message and reaching its audience. The site and CMS also lacked key functionality – such as streamlined online donations and e-commerce tools – to allow the charity to operate efficiently.
Here's how Enginess answered these problems with Advantage CSP and Snipcart.
Snipcart integration: Technical interview with Dan
How was the client operating prior to your development efforts? How were retail and online sales handled?
YWCA is a dynamic organization that provides extensive opportunities around the community and member engagement, from facilitating donations to hosting annual events.
The client initially intended to sell products on their previous website through an integrated e-commerce module, but due to the constraints of their legacy system, they were never able to fully utilize the integrated shopping cart module within their CMS.
As a result, the organization was not processing any online sales.
Do you have experience with e-commerce in general? If so, which tools have you been using the most in your workflows? Why?
Enginess has more than 20 years of consulting and building e-commerce businesses, working with organizations ranging from large-scale sports retailers to telecom providers. As an organization, we’ve worked with a number of different platforms including Magento, OSCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, and BigCommerce, to name a few.
Our past implementations around specific platforms have been guided by the client’s business requirements, including factors such as number of SKUs, volume of sales, multi-site capabilities, internationalization, and compatibility with other business systems to facilitate an end-to-end e-commerce operational process.
How would you qualify the e-commerce needs your client had for this project?
YWCA Toronto required a cutting-edge content platform that could meet its community/member engagement goals, while also offering flexibility to meet the demands of their business.
To meet its engagement and revenue goals, YWCA Toronto recognized it needed an e-commerce-enabled website, and seamless experience for admins to manage products and for site visitors to transact.
There’s a plethora of solutions and tools to handle e-commerce projects. Why use Snipcart?
During the CMS evaluation stage, we had narrowed down our platform finalists to two options: WordPress with WooCommerce integration or Advantage CSP with Snipcart integration.
The Advantage CSP and Snipcart solution was chosen primarily because the client had a strong preference toward Advantage CSP. In selecting Snipcart as the e-commerce solution for the project, we recognized that Snipcart offered a solution that could integrate seamlessly with Advantage CSP, letting the CMS do what its good at, while allowing Snipcart to handle all of the processes around e-commerce (ordering, taxation, shipping, etc.).
The Advantage CSP team had also looked at the Shopify Buy SDK as a potential method for allowing people to add a product and check out from a content-based website but eventually found that Shopify’s solution had limiting factors. Too much of the administrative duties, including account profile management and other customer experience duties, would be offloaded to a Shopify shop subdomain.
The goal was to contain the user experience on YWCA Toronto’s website from start to finish while allowing administrators to manage content and operate the store from one single administrative console.
You integrated our e-commerce solution on top of Advantage CSP for this project. Why this platform? And how did it go?
Though Snipcart could work with any content management system, Advantage CSP represented a more secure and more efficient model for managing YWCA Toronto’s content on the web.
YWCA Toronto had evaluated other CMS platforms but found that plugins were needed to accomplish a number of the organization’s day-to-day core functions, while Advantage CSP had those features built in. The all-in-one platform made the solution faster and more secure.
Any interesting parts of your integration to highlight?
Being that YWCA Toronto was our second project leveraging Snipcart and Advantage CSP integration, we found the flexibility of the Snipcart system, and our ability to style its interfaces to match the site’s designs was a major highlight. It also goes to show the flexibility of Snipcart’s solution.
How was your experience with Snipcart’s v2.0? How long did it take to get it up and running?
The solution was fantastic. We were able to get it up and running with its base functions – fully integrated, passing data between Advantage CSP’s product manager and Snipcart’s integrated cart – in a matter of hours.
Did you rely much on our API & webhooks for this integration? If so, how did it go?
Today, the system does not leverage any APIs or webhooks, but a key factor in selecting Snipcart was the availability of APIs and webhooks that could support future requirements to integrate with 3rd party business systems, should they arise.
Were our documentation & our support helpful?
We found the documentation to be clear and on-point, and the Snipcart management and technical teams were readily available to give us insight and support.
Did you get the chance to use advanced Snipcart features (inventory management, abandoned carts, email templates customization, multi-currency, etc.)? If so, how did it go?
All of these features (except multi-currency) are configured. We found the configuration and setup very straightforward, and the availability of a complete solution reaffirmed that Snipcart was the right solution for the client and the right platform to integrate for Advantage CSP.
What could we improve to make Snipcart an even better e-commerce solution for developers & merchants?
Implementing single-sign-on and continuously adding payment gateways and shipping providers to make Snipcart a viable option for a broader range of customers.
We want to thank Dan and all the team at Enginess & Advantage CSP for taking the time to do this. I invite you to follow or get in touch with them on Facebook & Twitter. To know more about the Advantage CSP platform, take a tour on the website.
We also have to thank YWCA Toronto for letting us look through their use case. Please, take a moment to visit their site and maybe leave a donation!
If you have a similar experience with Snipcart you want to showcase let us know by writing at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Liked this post? Take a second to share it on Twitter. All of us (Dan, Enginess, & Snipcart) would really appreciate it. We'd also love to hear your thoughts and questions on the integration itself below!