Custom BigCommerce Franchise Website for EducationalOutfitters.com
As a leading school uniform distributor, Educational Outfitters is built on local ownership and a heart to serve. They are one of the top franchises for school uniforms and decorated apparel. They keep parents’ and students’ needs in mind from start to finish, which is what has led to their success. Some of their company goals include reducing the time administrators spend on enforcement and discipline, keeping parents happy with superior retail service, and giving students a uniform they are proud to wear. Not only are they focused on the schools, they also give back with academic resources, technology, facilities, playgrounds, and student scholarships every year.
As a franchise it is expected that they will continue to grow. With a branch extended in 15 different states ranging from Florida to Michigan, Educational Outfitters needed a website that would allow them to update each individual state site with ease. To ensure that their customers always come first, they also needed the website to have functionality that is easy for students, parents, and administrators to use.
The Challenge: Many Stores Under One Roof
Educational Outfitters came to IntuitSolutions because of our experience. We are BigCommerce Elite Partners that work solely on the BigCommerce platform for almost a decade. They knew that with our numerous previous projects, we would be able to help them achieve their goal.
As previously mentioned, Educational Outfitters is a franchise. So, being an ecommerce website with 15 sub-stores is a challenge. Not only do they need a base site for the brand, they also need many individual stores with a similar design. They were aware that this was not going to be a quick and easy solution.
The Solution: Custom Franchise Website
In 2014, Educational Outfitters came to IntuitSolutions to create a custom franchise website with the help of BigCommerce. Since ecommerce franchises are somewhat rare, BigCommerce and IntuitSolutions needed to team up with Educational Outfitters to build a one of a kind corporate website with matching individual franchise websites.
Franchises on BigCommerce
As previously mentioned, Educational Outfitters was in need of a corporate site and 15 individual sub-stores. To do so, they worked with BigCommerce to create subdomains for each store that would house various schools with their custom items. A subdomain is a child website of your original store, it will tack on another section of your domain. For Educational Outfitters, their base domain is educationaloutfitters.com and one of their subdomains is arlington.educationaloutfitters.com. Once these were all set up, IntuitSolutions began development of their custom websites.
The Corporate website would act as a landing page where customers could then find their specific school or location website, similar to a store locator. Each location’s page includes a map for the brick and mortar store location for easy access by the customer. Additionally, the corporate website would display their other services such as corporate apparel, spirit wear, custom embroidery, and promotional products. Just as every site does, this would also be the location of Educational Outfitters’ mission statement and an introduction to the brand.
Custom School Search
Since each location caters to various schools in the area, it was necessary to have a search functionality that filters through the specific schools and not just locations. On the corporate site, the search allows you to filter though states, store location, and school names. On the location websites, customers are able to search for products like a typical ecommerce store, but also for a school name. For easier school and product uploading, we customized the search to be managed through an uploadable CSV document. This enables the ability to bulk upload and manage available stores in a process that cuts down on time spent in the back office.
This search functionality helps expedite the ordering process by minimizing the amount of clicking around a customer needs to do to reach their destination. This ease of use was exactly what Educational Outfitters was looking for.
Each individual sub-site is managed by the owner of that franchise branch. Since they have completely customized homepages, we wanted to ensure that users were able to make it mirror their brick and mortar store. To make the websites easy to update for everyone, IntuitSolutions gave each person access to the lang file within BigCommerce to update their websites template with their own photos and content. A lang file is an individual file on BigCommerce that has a list of key sections tied to parts of the website that are open for users to edit and change.
As business franchise owners, time is essential in building relationships with customers, so minimizing time spent updating the website is a must.
Blueprint to Stencil
Fast forward to 2019, Educational Outfitters has continued to grow and change. They continued their relationship with IntuitSolutions by joining monthly managed services to keep their website working properly and for a quick addition of a new store. After five years, their website began to look outdated. As a brand that works to keep their customers looking proper, it is important to have a website that reflects their own professionalism.
After some conversing with our team, Educational Outfitters agreed to upgrade to Bigcommerce’s new Stencil framework along with a custom site design. Since stencil is dominating the market, it would be crucial to their business growth to advance in that direction.
“Stencil improves the overall storefront experience for merchants and their customers. With enhancements in speed, security, and updates to your themes, this modern framework provides a more streamlined process for the everyday maintenance and tasks required to run a store.” – BigCommerce
Since their original site on Blueprint had various customizations crucial to their store upkeep, Educational Outfitters decided to have IntuitSolutions rebuild these features to integrate with stencil. When upgrading their website, many people worry about losing important aspects or qualities of their website. This is a key example of bringing pieces with you, and even giving the opportunity to improve the features. Some of Educational Outfitters’ carried over customizations include:
- Fully customized homepage with lang file editable features for corporate and location based websites.
- Custom school and product search section with CSV management.
- Quick access to school pages via their store landing page.
- Map view of store location on corporate site and location’s individual websites
Having individual franchise stores allows them to keep a smaller product catalog. Each product has a large list of colors and logos available to it and these customizations filter those options based on the school the customer is viewing the product under. This is to ensure that there are fewer customer errors when buying clothes, because showing up to school with the wrong color uniform would be embarrassing.
Franchises are a lot of work, not just from an owner perspective but from a content management perspective as well. IntuitSolutions took the time to create documentation on how to update both types of websites to ensure a smooth transition. We worked with not only the general owners of Educational Outfitters, but also owners of franchise branches to get insight on the roadblocks that may hinder them from applying updates with ease.
After transitioning to Stencil with a new custom website, Educational Outfitters has been very pleased with the work of IntuitSolutions. Their expectations were certainly met, if not surpassed by our dedication to helping each branch work efficiently. Since the launch of the new corporate and franchise websites, Educational Outfitters have continued to stay on a monthly managed plan to cater to new branch additions and general store or theme updates.
IntuitSolutions has various experiences under their belt, like building franchise websites as BigCommerce Elite Partners. We work with our customers to ensure we can create an experience unique to their company. Contact us or call us at 1-866-901-4650 to discuss the endless options for your store today.
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