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E.E. Schenck Co.: Magento Data Source Integration 

GRAYBOX designed and built a large cat­a­log B2B Magen­to ecom­merce site with over 200,000 SKU’s. In the back­end, data is pulled from four dif­fer­ent inte­gra­tion points, com­bined into a com­mon data stream, and updat­ed. On aver­age, EE Schenk cycles through inven­to­ry every 60 days so their site need­ed to cat­a­log and mer­chan­dise hun­dreds of thou­sands of prod­ucts efficiently.

Overall Outcome

GRAYBOX built an inte­gra­tion for EE Schenck that pulled addi­tion­al­ly data and allowed EE Schenck to mon­i­tor and expand.

The Results

EE Schenck saw an ongo­ing increase in site traf­fic through the efforts of GRAY­BOX’s team.

  • 7:49
    Minute Average Session Duration
  • 294K
    # of User Sessions
  • 38.8%
    Of New User Traffic

The Overall Problem

E.E. Schenck is one of the oldest and largest wholesale distributor of fabrics, notions, and patterns in the US. They have nearly 50,000 SKU’s, with inventory turns over roughly every 60 days, looking for data to be integrated across several different sets.

EE Schenck came to GRAYBOX with a legacy database system from several decades ago. It was accessible, but cumbersome and was presented several challenges to business operations. GRAYBOX needed to connect their legacy system with a modern ecommerce platform. The client also requested that we design a system where their staff didn’t have to perform any data input within an ecommerce system.

After comprehensive discovery with EE Schenck, GRAYBOX determined Magento would be the most efficient and flexible ecommerce platform to accommodate their over 200 business requirements.

We came to GRAYBOX work­ing on a com­plete web­site redo, rebuild­ing our web­site from the ground up. The GRAYBOX team gave us advice on what plat­form to use, what fea­tures would add the func­tion­al­i­ty we want­ed, where we could use plu­g­ins and what would need to be cus­tom built. They laid out a com­pre­hen­sive plan for the new site and set us up with sys­tems to inte­grate eas­i­ly with our exist­ing busi­ness sys­tems. Work­ing with the GRAYBOX team is great. They are pro­fes­sion­al but not stuffy, always will­ing to answer ques­tions for us and explain any­thing we don’t under­stand. They worked equal­ly well with our IT and Design depart­ments to cre­ate the look we want­ed with the func­tion­al­i­ty we need­ed. The new web­site launch was both excit­ing and scary. It was a very smooth tran­si­tion from our old site and we have received so many great com­ments about the new site. We couldn’t be hap­pi­er with GRAYBOX and the results.

Karen Milligan, Marketing Director, EE Schenck

Our Solution

1. Systems Mapping & Workflow

The first step with any complex site implementation project is to do a comprehensive audit of all data sets, where they live, how they’re currently accessed, what the existing access options are and evaluate the best case setup to support the client. GRAYBOX identified four different data sources that would need to be combined and integrated with the new Magento site.

2. Output Items from Database & Data Integration

EE Schenck’s inventory for their nearly 50,000 SKU’s lives in a legacy database. Previously, the client engaged a database administrator who worked in this legacy language to set up the system to regularly output an .xml feed that tracked the inventory for all their SKU’s and kept the system updated. GRAYBOX implemented a revision with the database so that instead of outputting all inventory, it outputs only what has changed since the previous day and sends an .xml file nightly. This reduction in data transfer greatly increased the speed of updating inventory with the ecommerce system.

GRAYBOX built an integration following to pull new inventory data and parse it into a data table along with existing unchanged inventory data. The data table pulls item info from one place and inventory levels from another database, and then serves up a number of available units for each item for the Magento ecommerce site. This integration doesn’t perform a replacement of the database, instead it imports new data directly into Magento’s database via row insertions or modifications.

3. Build a Self-Cleaning Data Management System

EE Schenck’s marketing department did not merchandise in their ecommerce system – setting such details as product category, descriptions, whether a product is new, whether the manufacturer changed the name, etc. The client records this data with FileMaker in a local database on their computers which are then are then shared to the cloud. The integration compares each row in the table of inventory and item information against this FileMaker file. To meet the client’s desire to avoid working directly with Magento to manage data, GRAYBOX built in functionality that allows staff to use FileMaker to list new product fields or edit existing fields, and these changes then get made to the Magento product database. If product categories need to be added, the client can add them in FileMaker and the integration automatically creates custom fields dynamically in Magento.

The integration also has built-in functionality to automatically sanitize the data. The system is designed to recognize human error in data that is entered into FileMaker. For example, it identifies errors such as misspellings, accidental spaces before or after a word, and inconsistencies in capitalization – and then fix them. The last integration GRAYBOX built for this project was for the Magento site to automatically grab images from a central FTP server and serve them up online. This allowed the EE Schenck staff to keep product images fresh on the site updated without having to interact with it via Magento.

Build­ing the EE Schenck Magen­to web­sites was a great expe­ri­ence, but a unique tech­ni­cal chal­lange. We tight­ly inte­grat­ed into their very old ERP/​Inventory sys­tem via a cus­tom & robust mid­dle­ware appli­ca­tion that con­nect­ed mult­ple data sources into Magen­to. But get­ting all the data live and up to date into a mod­ern tool has opened up excit­ing new opper­tu­ni­ty for their dig­i­tal pres­ence. Using this data, we’ve been able to cre­ate an API, con­nect to oth­er sys­tems and build mod­ern mobile apps.

Paul Weinert, Managing Principal / Founder at GRAYBOX

Our Results

EE Schenck has a new tool that is the hub for all their omnichannel and digital efforts — it's both modern and it connects with all their existing legacy systems.

EE Schenck’s new Magento site launched on June 23, 2015 and successfully integrated data sources, sanitized its own data, and allowed the client to serve up data from their legacy system without having to adjust the site through Magento. This design and elastic server setup allows their enormous catalog to be quickly refreshed every 24 hours during the night without sacrificing site performance. With the new importer, E.E. Schenck saw an increase in site traffic and a significant increase in user session. It improved their business processes significantly.

  • 7:49
    Minute Average Session Duration
  • 294K
    # of User Sessions
  • 38.8%
    Of New User Traffic