Leveraging 80 years of agricultural experience from the American heartland, BTI Direct serves as the dependable supplier for genuine John Deere equipment such as: large tractors, combines, sprayers, and other farm equipment, along with a variety of lawn and garden parts such as mower blades, belts, and filters. Every item is guaranteed to be original, sourced directly from the manufacturer, and crafted to the highest quality standards.
BTI Direct collaborated with Ambaum to explore a solution that would expand the number of SKUs available in their store. BTI wanted this functionality because they had a large demand from farmers (BTI’s primary customer) for parts that were not listed for sale by BTI in their online product catalog.
Scope of Work
We jointly determined that launching a new Shopify theme + the custom product builder would give BTI exactly what they were looking for. It’s important to note that all Shopify development was completed within a Shopify Theme so the client could view the progress in real time.
The big lift on this project was Ambaum created a custom middleware application for products, here is the scope of that work:
- Company login to manage raw product information
- Search bar for name, ID, Part Number, SKU
- Results page representing all product variations, sorted by most recent at the top
- An intuitive page of all products that have changed from the last update, so the client can verify or modify products before pushing to Shopify
- Organizing product information by date and “raw” when the information is gathered
- Once the information is modified by the client, the information is saved as “modified” for transparency
- Option via a button to “Update Shopify” on the Product Edit Page which will update that product information immediately with the new “modified” product information
- Option to schedule an update. The schedule can be paused and changed and only update Shopify if a new version of the product information exists.
To meet BTI’s requirements, Ambaum divided the project into three distinct custom apps to cater to their specific needs. These apps were strategically designed as follows:
- App 1: Shopify Automated Product Pricing & Inventory Updates
- App 2: Product Data Aggregators
- App 3: Automated Product Image Resizing & Watermarking
Ambaum employed open-source software to create the custom apps for BTI. Although there were a number of languages and frameworks that were considered, our decision to choose open source software best served the client’s long-term objectives.
App 1: Shopify Automated Product Pricing & Inventory Updates
Numerous businesses in the parts industry seek ways to gather real-time product and pricing data from external sources. The software development process for BTI Direct’s specific needs unfolded as follows:
- Development took place in PHP and Python, utilizing the Laravel framework and a MySQL database.
- The Shopify App incorporates a user-friendly management interface accessible via Shopify Admin for BTI’s convenience.
- The app’s functionality involves BTI inputting product part numbers or SKUs, either individually or in bulk through CSV uploads.
This streamlined approach aligns with the overall objective of efficiently enhancing BTI Direct’s product offerings on their Shopify store.
To streamline operations and avoid excessive API calls to Shopify, we write the inventory values to a JSON file, storing it on AWS CDN. This file is regularly updated during business hours, ensuring the latest information is readily available for loading onto the corresponding product page in Shopify. Using this approach minimizes the need for frequent API calls, enhancing efficiency in the data update process.
App 2: Product Data Aggregators
Merchants often encounter challenges when consolidating product data from diverse locations and formats for bulk import into platforms like Shopify. While tools like MS Excel, Google Sheets, or Matrixify facilitate bulk manipulation, some scenarios like those involving CSV files and various websites demand a more automated approach. BTI, managing an extensive catalog of 20,000 SKUs, faced inefficiencies with manual processes; working with CSV files and various websites to acquire product information then moving that information to Shopify. This resulted in a system that was not scalable with the business.
In collaboration, we developed a Shopify App that automates data acquisition, syncing with Shopify, and product management. The system intelligently navigates online pages housing BTI’s product information, utilizing overlapping data to automate decisions on titles, descriptions, etc., based on client-defined rules.
- BTI supplied us with product data sourced from various online platforms.
- We engineered a Python-based system to systematically retrieve and compile data from each source into a central repository stored in a MySQL database.
- Addressing the intricacies of these processes, we implemented comprehensive error checking and logging using the ELK Stack.
- Complex logic was developed to intelligently determine the optimal data for utilization.
- Scheduled updates, defined by BTI, automatically refresh all product data. Additionally, users have the flexibility to manually request an immediate data update within the App.
- The application maintains a meticulous log of the complete history of data acquisition, Shopify updates, and any encountered errors.
App 3: Automated Product Image Resizing & Watermarking
BTI sought a solution to streamline their extensive catalog’s image processing to optimize and watermark product images for Shopify. While Shopify offers a native image resizer, it has a limitation of resizing only six images at a time and this is not a viable solution for merchants dealing with a large SKU count. In response, we collaborated to create a Shopify App that not only automates resizing and watermarking but also automatically acquires and syncs all product images.
BTI initially faced a time-consuming task of photographing individual products, followed by manual resizing, watermarking, and adding to Shopify—a process unsustainable with a catalog of one million parts featuring multiple images each. Our tailored app for BTI now seamlessly manages product images based on SKU, processes them, and is queued to Sync to Shopify. Each step of the automated process is fortified with error checking, rules, and logging, ensuring a meticulous review of the image’s status and progression through the system.
This Shopify App designed by Ambaum to handle the intricate process of importing, resizing, watermarking, and syncing product images addressed BTI’s concerns about the labor-intensive task of individually processing images for their extensive catalog. This particular app not only automates these tasks but also incorporates error checking, rules, and logging for a seamless and error-resistant workflow. Furthermore, the collaborative effort resulted in an intelligent system that acquires and optimizes product data from multiple sources, ensuring BTI’s product listings are always up-to-date and accurate. These solutions collectively showcase Ambaum’s commitment to providing tailored, efficient, and scalable solutions for businesses navigating the challenges of extensive product management.
In response to BTI’s challenges managing a lot of parts, Ambaum devised a comprehensive set of custom Shopify Apps, each strategically tailored to address specific pain points. Leveraging leading open-source software, we built automated product pricing and inventory updates, product data aggregation, and streamlined image processing. These solutions not only automate tasks that were once time-consuming and manual but also enhance efficiency and scalability in managing BTI’s extensive product offerings.
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