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Time to admit there's not enough time in the day!
I've been trying to get the next phase of business expansion underway but never have enough time to get up to speed on drupal and ubercart. We've seen significant growth with manual tools and the plans for future growth all center around automating ordering systems and customer education. After much research, we've decided Drupal and Ubercart are the combination that should most easily fit the project. Ubercart already has Moneris payment integration which is our credit card gateway.
We're a coffee wholesaler/retailer with cafes in Vancouver, BC with exclusive rights to the Canadian market and wholesale presence across the country. The roaster we represent is rated as one of the best in the world and the end product is stunning. We're primarily supplying cafes, restaurants and a few small individual buying groups. Our main expansion plans will focus on maximizing direct to consumer sales with projections of 10000+lbs per week ongoing sales by end of 2009. Here are the phases of development we foresee:
Phase 1: implement the wholesale ordering system
-uml modelling of the order process
-database creation of the product database (primarily coffees and teas with different size options plus some individual retail items) with pricing definable per customer (majority are base pricing +/- an offset)
-implementation of the ordering system pages - essentially one page with boxes to fill in for the order (based on active items in the db), a confirmation page and then auto email summary and invoice to customer)
-implementation of an aggregating function to assemble the orders for Vancouver cafes (most others are dropped shipped to individual customers)
-develop csv export of orders to go to roaster according to their system specs
-develop auto creation of invoices including shipping costs based on order weight
-develop export of invoices to quickbooks (if this is even possible due to limited qb sdk - might be outsource-able)
-develop auto sending of order confirmations and draft invoice
-develop auto reminder system for customer ordering on a weekly basis
-develop auto reminder for admins prior to order day with list of customers not yet ordered
-tracking number entry system for the week's order that automatically tracks fedex status once entered and emails directly to customer the status updates based on cron jobs/fedex notifications (if possible)
-report pages for customers to see past ordering history and upcoming orders (editable until order cutoff)
-report pages for admin to see past and current ordering plus a system for inputting tickets for order mistakes requiring action/credits that stay active until responsible user signs off on result
-no payment system necessary but initially a placeholder for admin to enter when invoice paid and an automated nagging system for cc declines and overdue cheques
That's it for phase 1 - looks like a lot but fairly straightforward. Graphic design of site is not important at this stage, just need something quick to automate this system. A quick proof of concept/user test just for getting the orders initially (reminders, qb, etc. not necessary) will be the test for developers getting this off the ground - will involve modding ubercart to aggregate orders and bypassing checkout but emailing confirmation.
Phase 2: Direct to consumer sales
-uml modelling of the process
-more traditional product catalogue presentation based on wholesale db
-status/member type based views of the site i.e. not registered sees intro of some sort/landing page to get started; registered but non-classified member sees options for getting involved i.e. place individual orders, start buying group, find buying group in area, etc.; registered and classified member goes directly to member type pages i.e. individual buyer, part of buying group, head of buying group, etc.
-status/member type based information tabs
-ordering via catalogue with credit card pre-auth, fulfilled after order ships
-full security up to the requirements of the gateway company
-modification of ubercart to allow for shipping options and 'holding' of orders until group buy aggregate size meets minimum
-reminder/alert system for new products, newsletters, orders starting for group/number needed for minimum aggregate size (say a group in Winnipeg buys 10 lbs at a time - as soon as one member of the group orders, every member is alerted that x more pounds need to be ordered to get shipment started + new email every time someone orders until minimum is met + expiration on order if not enough members participate)
-Same tracking requirements above except tracking number applies to group
-Shipping options at time of order - if a group buyer, can bypass group for immediate next business day roast/ship at higher cost; if individual is near hub (Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Halifax - has option to pick up from cafe to save on shipping or have hub send direct via Canada Post)
-Referral/Affiliate system to get more customers into the mailing list
-Eventual expansion to US market
-Automated payout of commissions to paypal accounts or some other direct debit system
-Same reporting as phase 1 but with additions for group/individual buyers
-Guidance on logical steps to get this off the ground bit by bit i.e. start targeting one specific type of group buyer first
Phase 3: Expanding education/community aspects of both wholesale and consumer
-big goal is to create an 'open your own cafe' education resource with regional affiliate links to specific suppliers
-all aspects of content will be collaborative via wiki type of creation
-use the community as means of choosing further ancillary products to the main line of coffee/tea
-create a coffee resource to rival top consumer sites like coffeegeek.com but for wholesale/commercial accounts
That's a quick summary. We really need someone/company that can walk us through the requirements verbally - the only reason this wasn't done a year ago was that I couldn't find the time to make uml models/site maps/business logic maps that were developed enough for a programmer to run with. Preference is to do via face to face interview (i.e. someone in Vancouver BC would be first choice), barring that, webcam and screensharing will work fine. We can develop the documentation together - well, I'll tell you what I need in great detail and you can model it/document it. Once test system is up, we have ongoing weekly orders to input and test before any go-live. We'd really like to see the initial wholesale ordering (not the fancy reporting/invoicing, etc, just the basic order entry and aggregating) done in a matter of weeks with ongoing building from there. We'd like to see the first phase of consumer group ordering done by end of summer again with ongoing building after basic job done.
Payment wise, we're proposing a commissioned payment based on ordering size, paid out weekly. Initially, you'd be looking at $120-150 when just wholesale (growing about 40-70% yearly, probably faster as the site develops). We're earmarking $.20/lb for the direct to consumer side of the site. If we hit our 10000 lb/week number (entirely realistic based just on the first buying group target we have an inside source on), that will be an ongoing $2000/week just for this job. In return, we're expecting:
-someone that understands the potential and is willing to do the work upfront based on the long term payoff (even at $120/week, that's over $6000 for the first year for phase 1 which is relatively simple) - we're looking for a permanent partner that will take care of all web admin and tech support so the commissions will be permanent and this will develop into a very substantial contract for the right company
-expertise in chunking out the project into small tests and incremental go-live milestones
-Drupal and Ubercart expertise
-understanding of payment gateways (we'll be switching from Moneris in future to a different provider and may have to develop the ubercart gateway)
-expertise in hosting/security - we have a host currently but will want to switch this either to a colocated server (long term) or a dedicated virtual server (short term) to handle higher loads
-expertise in backups/version control
-willingness to provide all code/backups daily and admin access to myself (better safe than sorry if any problems in future and need to bring on new developers)
We'll be looking for some code samples/portfolio sites that I'll get reviewed by a trusted third party dev.