Shyp-Shyna: Launching an e-commerce platform for a tire retailer

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Updating a legacy online store can be pretty challenging for any business. Mistakes and poor approaches can harm your updated site's SEO, cause speed issues, and lower the overall quality of service. How to avoid this? We'll share our successful experience building Shyp-Shyna, an online store for a leading retailer of automotive tires and wheels in Ukraine.

Client’s background

The original store under the "Shyp-Shyna" brand was opened in 1993. Today, it has grown into a nationwide network that spans stores for motorists, tire service stations, car washes, wholesale centers, and more. The company sells approximately 600 thousand tires per year, offers products from top global brands (Goodyear, Pirelli, Michelin, Nokian, Hankook, etc.), and is one of the leaders in the Ukrainian tire market.

In its sales strategy, Shyp-Shyna particularly relies on eCommerce channels, offering convenient online purchasing options and loyalty program benefits. However, the online store the retailer had been using for years was long outdated even at the time they approached us in 2020. 

The existing website suffered from speed issues, was difficult to integrate with the client’s accounting system, and required a redesign to meet modern standards. The best solution for the project was to develop a new web platform from scratch.

Development requirements

The client did not have a detailed technical specification, but their team clearly formulated a set of requirements that the new product had to meet. In particular, it was crucial to preserve the existing digital infrastructure with the accounting system, product database, prices, etc. This structure took years to build, so integration with it had to be done in a way that would allow starting work on the new site at minimal costs.

It was equally important to maximize the store's search positions, as the client had invested major resources in SEO and achieved great results. Naturally, we needed a new design that would be up to today’s UI/UX design standards.

The team set out to create a new eCommerce web platform tailored to all the specifics of the client's business. This goal required us to:

  • Develop a new UI/UX design
  • Implement a custom web platform with the involvement of SEO specialists
  • Integrate the platform with the client’s accounting system and other digital tools

Technologies we chose

Our team opted for tools we were proficient in, well-tried and proven technologies that helped us power numerous eCommerce projects. Specifically, we used classic HTML5/CSS3 markup and the Alpine.js microframework for the frontend. For the backend, we settled on the PHP frameworks Laravel and Livewire.

As for more specialized solutions, we employed the Elasticsearch search engine to implement fast filtering in the product catalog.

Performance speed was one of the project's key priorities. That’s why the team chose a path of horizontal architecture scaling. This required distributing the project across multiple servers. The chosen architecture included a separate server for the web application, a server for the Elasticsearch engine, a server for the database, and so on. Each server handled its own requests, supporting the site's speed and stability in any situation.

Our workflow and reporting

Once all key decisions regarding project requirements, architecture, and technologies were approved, the team set off the development workflow. Organizing the workflow, we turned to familiar agile approaches and the scrum methodology, which emphasizes iteration, team autonomy, and work in small sprints.

Most sprints in this project lasted two weeks. Each sprint is time for the team to independently handle backlog tasks with the final result in mind. In a two-week sprint, we typically held no more than four major Zoom meetings. The final meeting of the sprint was always a demonstration of results, where developers presented the sprint report to the client's side and summarized the job done.

Besides regular presentations, we provided all necessary reports on workflow milestones and development progress, closely communicating with the client’s team for the highest efficiency.

What we developed

As a result of our team's work, we’ve built a completely new eCommerce platform that meets all the requirements of the Shyp-Shyna network, boasts a sleek design and up-to-date UX features, runs quickly and stably, and integrates seamlessly with the client's accounting tools. 

Here are a few features that set Shyp-Shyna apart from competitors:

  • Updated design: Overhauling the design was crucial for both the platform's usability and its image. Our designers proposed Shyp-Shyna a concise interface with a brand identity that stands out visually while being informative as well. Users can navigate to the desired section of the product catalog in just three clicks, starting at the homepage.
  • Dark theme: The client had no initial requirements for creating a dark theme for the site. However, our designer saw the project this way and suggested several layouts of pages in dark tones. The client loved the idea, although they had already practically approved the white background design that retained the familiar colors of the old site. Eventually, we offered to implement two color schemes that users could switch freely. The dark theme looks stylish and protects users' eyes during the dark hours of the day.
  • User "Garage": As standard, a buyer can log in to the site and access a range of helpful features in their personal cabinet, such as loyalty program tools. But it’s the "My Garage" section that really stands out — users may register one or several cars to simplify the search for components. Searching through the garage offers only the products that fit the brand and model of the buyer's specific car.

In the long run, the platform meets all the technical and business requirements of the client. During the development phase, SEO specialists joined the project to optimize the new platform to maintain the store’s search positions. The developers also closely collaborated with experts responsible for the client's accounting system to achieve seamless integration.

Challenges we overcame

During the final stages of development, we integrated the practically complete platform with the client's accounting system and realized that the search filter was working quite slowly, with a time lag and occasional bumps here and there.

What caused this? Experts found that Laravel’s standard tools couldn't provide fast filtration in the client's massive product database, which comprised over 100,000 items. Unlike most online stores, Shyp-Shyna's product database wasn't divided into smaller subcategories that would have limited the selection during the search. 

It was important for the client that the product catalog remained unified because the store's main products were tires. They could be summer or winter tires, for different types of wheels and different cars, but still, they needed to remain in one category. From a technical standpoint, this meant that every search query and every filter in the catalog required checking the entire hundred thousand records in the database. This was what impaired speed.

We solved the issue by promptly reworking the filtration mechanism using the Elasticsearch engine. We launched a separate server for it, responsible for indexing products and fast searching. As a result, if filtration with standard Laravel tech took approximately 30 seconds, then Elasticsearch provides a response in less than a second (800–900 ms).

Overcoming unexpected issues slightly shifted the development timeline, but the extended deadline was completely reasonable, and it did not exceed two weeks. Overall, it took 8 months to implement the product from scratch (from the first discussion to release).

Project results

The client received a modern, elegant, and scalable eCommerce platform that fully satisfies the specific needs of the company. Most importantly, the team managed to minimize all the negative effects of transitioning to the new platform, such as lost search positions and traffic drops.

To achieve this, developers closely collaborated with SEO specialists, who formulated a set of recommendations. It was necessary to preserve the old URLs and aliases for the new site, work on filtration, landing pages for filters, and templates for automatic meta tag assignment to these pages. 

All these steps yielded incredible results: The launch of the new site was accompanied by only a 10% traffic drop, and it lasted only about a month (previously, experts had forecasted a drop of 20–30% over two to three months). 

The new platform release took place at the end of September 2021, and by the end of October, it had restored all its traffic and search metrics — just in time for the hot season in the tire business. In November, the company recorded a noticeable increase in traffic.

Since then, we have been providing post-release support for the platform. A dedicated team of developers is assigned to the project, watching over its smooth operation and implementing the client's ideas for further platform expansion.

Shyp-Shyna's results speak for themselves: Transitioning to a new site doesn't necessarily have to be stressful and shocking for the business. An experienced and professional team can empower the most painless migration of the store to a new software core, building a smart migration strategy and selecting the best technologies.

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