Case Studies

  • How Sitefinity proved the right platform for TOPS at SPAR

    • Sitefinity proved to be a hit, both with the ePages development team, the client and their content managers

      Author: ePages.net Company:

    • Client: TOPS at SPAR
    • Industury: Entertainment
    • Project website: http://www.topsatspar.co.za
    • Implemented by: Tops At Spar
    • Download PDF (183 KB)
    • Industry: Retail/Liquor
    • Background: TOPS at SPAR is the retail liquor store branch of the SPAR Group of South Africa. It operates over 345 retail outlets throughout South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
    • Challenge: TOPS needed to be able to offer their customers more up to date information and exciting content more quickly. The site also needed to be updated on a regular basis by non-technical staff, as well as be more adaptable to ever-evolving creative concepts to allow it to keep in line with the chain's offline marketing activities.
    • Why Sitefinity: The solid technical platform with endless possibilities for development appealed to the development team, while the simple and easy to learn user interface sold it for the client in TOPS' case.
    • Technical Details: The TOPS site was converted from the old .NET CMS site to Sitefinity over 6 weeks, requiring the services of one designer and a part-time developer
    • Results: The site now enjoys a much quicker turnaround of content and plans for future development are being realistically planned without the prospect of heavy development timescales and costs.
  • Download PDF (183 KB)
  • The Challenge

    The existing TOPS website had been suffering from out of date content and functionality for some time. This was due in part to a proprietary content management system that, while it did the job admirably when it was first launched, was not easily adaptable to progression or change. As a result, what should have been straightforward enhancements often caused heavy development bills and lengthy deployment timeframes. TOPS needed to be able to offer their customers more up to date information and exciting content more quickly. The site also needed to be updated on a regular basis by non-technical staff, as well as be more adaptable to ever-evolving creative concepts to allow it to keep in line with the chain's offline marketing activities.

    In particular, the site needed to be able to provide:

    • Up to date information on the home page about the latest online and in-store promotions and competitions
    • Details of national promotions
    • A comprehensive listing of products exclusive to the TOPS chain
    • A 'Fun Guide' events calendar that ties in with the products on offer
    • Detailed store location listings

    The Solution

    Despite the vastness of the TOPS network, the team responsible for the brand, and the website in particular, is fairly small. ePages, through their involvement with the TOPS parent company, SPAR Group SA, on many other projects over the past 10 years, was brought in to take over the development and put in place a system that could be maintained easily by a part-time non-technical content manager whilst at the same time allow for cost-effective, planned upgrades in functionality as the need arose.

    ePages was no stranger to Telerik either, having integrated the Telerik ASP.NET AJAX Controls suite with its own Content Management System in the past. However, due to the high development costs involved in keeping their own CMS product up to date with the rest of the CMS's that were rapidly appearing on the market, ePages had already started the shift towards using Sitefinity as their primary solution. The solid technical platform with endless possibilities for development appealed to the development team, while the simple and easy to learn user interface sold it for the client in TOPS' case.

    The TOPS site was converted from the old .NET CMS site to Sitefinity over 6 weeks, requiring the services of one designer and a part-time developer. While the initial brief was to simply convert the old site into Sitefinity, the ultimate aim was to provide a platform for unlimited creative and technical development, a task both the client and ePages were confident could be handled comfortably by Sitefinity.

    The home page design was converted from the previously heavy Flash-based approach to allow the content managers to more easily and quickly update information. At the same time, the main site navigation was kept in Flash, yet a more user-friendly mechanism for updating the links via the built-in Sitefinity content module was implemented.

    Although the static-map driven store locator function was originally managed via proprietary tools in the old site, it was decided to move this in to the content module as a stop-gap until such time as a more dynamic store locator module could be developed that would tie in with the SPAR Group's master store data, as well as allow better mapping capabilities. Integration with GPS navigation devices is also planned to allow users to locate their nearest TOPS store.

    The Fun Guide also made use of the built-in Sitefinity Events Calendar module which will eventually offer more detailed and location-based listings.
    A custom competition user control was quickly and easily developed that allows the TOPS content manager to create promotion-specific competition forms that capture a user's details to email to the competition managers. The control also logs the details into a 3rd party email marketing system via its own API.

    The Results

    The Sitefinity proved to be a hit, both with the ePages development team, the client and their content managers. So much so that it was quickly agreed that other SPAR Group brands would follow the same path and have their websites converted to run on the platform; starting with the Group's builder's merchant chain, Build it (www.buildit.co.za) and ultimately the SPAR website (www.spar.co.za).
    The site now enjoys a much quicker turnaround of content and plans for future development are being realistically planned without the prospect of heavy development timescales and costs.

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