Interview: Planet Organic on Magento

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Magento Enterprise, being a flexible, feature rich and cost effective platform, was exactly what we needed to get the site up and running, without breaking the bank...

Richard Jackson, Leftfield Digital


Can you tell us a bit about your company and Planet Organic?

Leftfield Digital is a London based Creative Digital Agency and Enterprise Magento Partner. We design, deliver and manage innovative, flexible and creative web solutions based on commercial open source platforms. We work with a varied range of SMe and blue chip clients in the UK, Europe and the Middle East including AIG UK Ltd, Nakheel PSJC, MBC.net, 188BET.com, Alibaba.com, Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, UK County Councils and several Government/Public Sector organizations.

Planet Organic is the leading Organic Supermarket chain in the UK, offering organic and environmentally sensitive products to a knowledgeable and discerning audience. Planet Organic’s founder, Renee Elliot is a prominent spokesperson for the UK’s Organic Industry and a member of the Soil Association. With five UK supermarkets (in and around the London area), Planet Organic are looking to extend their reach across the UK as well as offering a broader range of Organic/Environmentally sensitive products to the widest possible audience.

Why did you choose Magento for the project?

Being the authority on organic products and issues, Planet Organic already had a strong online presence but lacked any form of online retailing to capitalise – missing a huge volume of potential sales from target customers that identified with the brand but did not have access to a retail outlet. It was clear that online retail was required and Magento was recommended for two core attributes; cost effectiveness and flexibility.

Cost is an important factor; whilst Planet are an established and successful business, any serious ecommerce operation requires a significant investment in front and back office systems – and that investment needs to be as cost efficient as possible to provide the fastest possible return. Under those conditions Magento’s functionality vs pricing dynamic made it the only realistic choice.

Secondly, flexibility was (and will continue to be) important to the project for a number of reasons, not least that the site roadmap has to retain the ability to be genuinely adaptable. Planet Organic has thrived on being adaptable and responsive to changing market conditions and environmental considerations; therefore the ecommerce platform must retain the ability to respond accordingly. This flexibility will help keep them at the forefront of their sector.

What technologies are currently implemented / integrated in the frontend and behind-the-scenes?

One of the key aspects of the new site was to capitalise on the search engine presence that the existing site had established, and the wealth of highly targeted content that had been published via the blog. We integrated Wordpress with Magento, added Single Sign On and migrated the content over into the new blog. A customisation around the product tagging then dynamically pulls relevant article summaries onto each of the product pages. This provides the products with context and in time, should attract traffic, relevance and conversion. As more products and content are added, the deeper and richer this product/content association will become and we expect this organic (no pun intended!) traffic and long-tail SEO traffic to become a key provider of prospective customers.

Behind the scenes, the site management is being handled predominantly by the Magento back office with a simple stock integration to a central management function. So from a systems perspective the site is relatively straightforward (aside from the Wordpress article and product tagging method mentioned above). In the second development phase, further integration with existing systems will be required but that will be based on meeting specific commercial targets to justify the growth and expansion.

Do you have other projects that you work on using Magento?

We are about to launch PicStop.co.uk – a migration from an old, inflexible proprietary system that the business had simply outgrown – to Magento. We’re also in the process of delivering Magento for a global leader in the Gifts and Flower Delivery sector and have been commissioned to implement a pan-European installation for a leading entertainment organisation – with 80 stores running from a single global catalogue.

Would you recommend enterprise companies use Magento?

The current economic situation is driving home the point that the flexibility and commercial benefits of commercial open source is there and many more organisations are viewing applications like Magento as credible alternatives to other (often vastly over spec’ed) systems with prohibitive licensing costs to match.

The number and types of organisations that are now actively engaging Magento is clear indication that the message is being received loud and clear; there is now an alternative enterprise level ecommerce option in the mix.

What are your future plans with Magento?

Leftfield continue to build a strong relationship with Magento and will be continuing to actively participate in the community and partnership programs where we can. We’re also currently planning a series of seminars with guest speakers (including Roy from Varien and other key organisations we partner with) to further promote Magento to the Enterprise sector in the UK. Watch the blog for details!

Any recommendations for people evaluating Magento?

The landscape has changed; don’t be constrained by what you think an Enterprise grade site may cost to develop. Magento has re-written the rules on what can be delivered within budgets that previously wouldn’t have even covered the licence costs of some of the mid/top tier ecommerce applications. It’s worth evaluation for that reason alone.

Secondly, make sure that you’re talking to a Enterprise Magento Partner that understands and shares your vision. As a Magento project has the potential to develop in any number of directions, you’ll need a partner that understands the wide range of considerations that make a genuinely successful project.

Any final words of wisdom?

Magento offers a real alternative for organisations that require Enterprise functionality - without much of the initial investment and ongoing cost normally associated. So, when you’re evaluating Magento against some of the more established Enterprise solutions, my words of wisdom would be – don’t look much further than the Total Cost of Ownership.....


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