11 Jan

Golden State Flooring

gsfsiteNote: The site I built and describe here is currently dead. The company has gone into bankruptcy and I have no association with the current group calling themselves Golden State Flooring. Their site is not the site that I worked on for years. The best I can offer as far as viewing it is to go to the Internet Archive and view it there. Unfortunately, only about a third of the pages work.

If I can get a copy of the original site, I’ll post it here.

Golden State Flooring is a website that served flooring dealers and contractors throughout California. I was responsible for, well, everything on it, except, for it’s current design. I did the original designs and, I’ll admit, design is not my strong suit.

Specifically, the site provided customer credit information, pricing, promotions and other items for customers. The back-end allowed for an account to be limited in it’s access to certain product lines, or, for instance, a credit person to see a customer’s aging and purchase information but not allow a salesperson to see it. The site and the database running it also tied into the Higgins Hardwoods site. In other words, a user could log into either site and see, mostly, but not always, the same information. Both companies used the same ERP, and shared some customers, so it made sense to tie the two together in that way. Today, those sites would be built around Joomla or Drupal, and my life would have been a bit easier in that regard. But I started working on these in 2003, built the back end somewhere around that time, and, well, those two products weren’t as well done as they are today.

One question I always get asked was, did you do E-Commerce? The answer is a resounding No. And there are a couple of solid reasons for that. First, we didn’t sell directly to the public. We sold to flooring dealers and contractors or cabinet shops (Higgins). So giving the appearance that we sold online, especially in the flooring game, was problematic.

The second reason we didn’t sell online is that our data was a mess. The ERP did a very poor job of product attributes. Basically, they didn’t have any, so we didn’t have any. Flooring, which has at least a dozen potential attributes (species, width, length, warranty, color, stain, etc) had all of that information stored in a SKU description field where Red Oak might be “RO”, “Red Ok”, “Red Oak”, “Rd Oak” and so forth. As such, every SKU would have had to have been recreated with a cross-reference outside the ERP and the will to do such a thing was lacking.

We did come close, building an Overstock section, which took months, and as near as I can tell is broken, that allowed a visitor to request more information on a specific SKU.

Finally, the sites are LAMP based and supported around 2,500 registered users. That number, while small by many standards, represented significant market penetration in the flooring dealer and contractor business. I’m amazed at how well we did, most of which is owed to a very determined vice-president who pushed the sales team to sign people up.