The road to digital success

When we were first approached, back in 2015, by a consulting company to work on a big project for a large pharmaceutical company, little we knew about the technical complexities we would face. Fast forward a few years later, and this is still one of the projects that make our hearts burst with pride.

The group is one of the top pharmacy and healthcare products retail, wholesale, and distribution companies operating in the UK and Ireland. As they had been using an online platform to manage their orders before, the decision was simple: in order to keep the business moving, they needed to delve more into the digital. Faced with the pressing problem of a legacy ordering application that was unable do change to new, they reached out to us because they wanted to replace it with a modern, intuitive, fast and reliable eCommerce platform to efficiently serve their 2000+ pharmacy and hospital customers.

The technical difficulty lied in the fact that the platform needed to be capable of handling high volumes of orders whilst maintaining the accuracy of inventory data. At the same time, as the relationship with their customers was complex and highly personalized, the platform needed to be able to show each client a distinct set of pricing, such as trade price, net price, rebate, discount, and settlement discounts, as well as a My Account dashboard featuring past orders, invoices, accumulator for rebates and an entire online returns workflow.

The agreed solution was Magento Enterprise, with tight integration to SAP ERP. The architecture was designed to enable high volumes of orders to be placed and fulfilled through a set of unique B2B order workflows with custom pricing, availability, and lead times on a ‘per-customer’ basis. This information is displayed on the customer’s page at the very time when they visit the site.

Magento’s ability to handle large amounts of data seamlessly ensures streamlined ordering for pharmacists and hospitals with a high level of availability and dependability, which was paramount given the nature of the life-saving products being purchased.

As one of the reasons to upgrade was scalability, the clients decided to integrate SAP as their ERP solution. Not only that this software can be deployed for various business dimensions irrespective of the company size, but SAP software solutions are compatible with every type of business.

Our primary challenge was to provide the client with the lossless SAP – Magento integration. With SAP being a complex ERP system, the technical hurdle was to guarantee full compatibility out of the box, so the solution was to develop a custom tool that connects the two applications.

Our custom integrator imports data from SAP to Magento, overnight. Product attributes, base prices, pricing rules, promotion rules are all placed on a server that Magento seamlessly connects with. There are over 400.000 distinctive rules to calculate prices, depending on different types of customers and segments, imported in Magento’s MySQL database, with the transport files archived in the end.

All along, the biggest technical complexity of the project was to ensure that all systems could handle a large amount of data. To avoid performance leak, individual prices are saved in Redis, Magneto’s native cache, a fast, in-memory data store, via a custom module developed by our experts.

Ordering is a complex process, too. Before placing an order, the system checks the level of stocks and transfers it to Magneto’s database. From here, the order is sent to SAP through SOAP API, triggering a multitude of automatic warehouse processes.

The B2B eCommerce Platform, through its new intuitive and streamlined B2B ordering process, has delivered a significant increase in order volume and value. There is also a notable cost saving involved, as the new platform does the work of over 20 full-time employees.

If you have any questions about our services, please contact us or drop us an email at hello@oak3.agency. We’re here to help! Oak3 is a Solution Partner for Magento, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!