Get your business functions on-line with bespoke web application development
10 June 2015
A website that delivers leads is of huge importance to any business, but a web application extends your business, and it's functions, on-line and can save your business time, effort and money.
Web application development is so much more than just delivering a good looking website that encourages people to get in touch with you.
A perfect example is Oscura's recent application development work for the California Superbike School (CSS) in the UK. CSS run regular school days to improve their students riding skills, and part of their offering is the ability to purchase event photos. Naturally CSS needed the ability for their students to purchase photos on-line and get quick electronic delivery. That's how the application started - giving students the ability to select their photos on-line, add them into a shopping basket, and pay instantly on-line using a secure payment gateway.
All web development companies will be happy to supply shopping and payment systems. That alone is vital for a business to offer the ability for customers to shop 24 hours a day on-line. Using a well known payment gateway allows businesses to take money securely on-line and have it delivered directly into their merchant bank account. Purchases can easily be tracked to enable reports on purchases.
As a Sage Developer, in this instance we have integrated payments directly into CSS's Sage Accounting system. All orders are created in Sage automatically using a web service, which is another huge time saver as administration staff no longer need to enter the order twice. The integration between a website and Sage Accounts will be discussed in a future blog post on our website. The brief summary is that Oscura developed a specific solution to create accounts and orders within Sage and to syncronise data with the live website.
But how about organising the photos per student and offering the ability to download bundles of photos on-line?
During a single school event day a professional photographer can produce several thousand photographs of up to 200 different motorbikes and their riders. Students immediately want to see their photos and have the option to buy. This process used to take several days of manual sorting into folders by hand - and some very tired and bleary eyed CSS staff who had the responsibility for the job, working against the clock. Once photos were sorted, photo CDs were manually produced and packaged to be posted out. This system worked but students had a long wait while a lot of work was put in behind the scenes. There was also a cost for the matrials, and postage and packing costs. All of those costs, and most of that work time and delay in delivery have now been eliminated.
Oscura devised a system that begins with the placement of a simple short bar code sticker on each bike. That bar code delivers all the information needed to resolve the bike and it's rider into a colour coded group and number. Photos are loaded from camera memory cards into a machine loaded with the application responsible for sorting the photos. Each image is processed in turn and the bar code read and information extracted to tag the photo against the rider.
In a matter of minutes the rider can view his or her photos that have been seperated from all the other images. In the case where the barcode wasn't visible in the photo an algorithm tries other matches before placing the image in a folder for manual sorting. This method means CSS staff now find about 60% of event images are pre-sorted before their job begins. CSS customers can instantly view the majority of their photos - which increases sales as well as dramatically reducing staff time.
The application resizes images during the photo sorting to enable web viewing and download at differing resolutions. Web based management tools enable CSS staff to handle customer orders and requests. The same process enables photo browsing on CSS's public website, which enables students to buy all their photos or pick and choose their favouries before completing their order on-line.
Web Application Components
In this case study Oscura has developed the key functionality summarised below:
- Shopping basket system
- Secure on-line payment system
- Integration with back-end accounting software (Sage Accounts)
- Automated electronic delivery of purchased products (Event photos)
- Implementation of bar coding system
- Barcode recognition and image processing software
- Management tools for reporting and generating photo bundles for students
- Delivery system for secure download of photo bundles