Key requirements for Intouch’s ecommerce solution included:
- the ability to integrate to their existing point-of-sale (POS) system
- fresh, responsive design
- scalability to meet the seasonal demands of the sector and anticipated global demand for the product
- improved usability and reduced friction in a typically complex buying process
With strong credentials across digital and cloud in the latest technologies, Theta delivered all this and more.
Simplifying a complex buying process
Ski field ticketing is an inherently complex process, with variables including location, lifts, lessons, age of purchaser, family groups, equipment, date of purchase, taxes and more. Previously, buyers were presented with a confusing grid of choices, which didn’t translate well to mobile devices.
We have implemented a smart user centric design built on a single page application to simplify the ski pass buying process - guiding consumers through the process and smart selling add-ons rather than presenting a confusing mass of options.
“The purchase process is streamlined, making it much easier to select the package you are looking for and smoothing the purchase process.”
Arjan Noordhoek, Chief Technology Officer, Intouch Technology Group
Additional smarts come from a context-based approach to optimising the buying journey. The Intouch web store recognizes where you have come from and the context in which you visit the store, and presents only the most relevant information. If a customer arrives at the site by clicking a promotion, the package promoted is already in their shopping cart, all they have to do is “pay now” to complete the transaction.
Arjan Noordhoek comments:
“It’s a mobile-first approach – who wants to wade through several screens of registration and data gathering when you’re buying on your phone? We’ve already had feedback from a large US customer that this approach to web store implementation is a game changer in the industry, and they’re really excited about it.”
Implemented in the US and NZ, more sites to come
NZSki and a US group of ski resorts have already implemented the Intouch ecommerce solution, with new sites to come in the US, Japan and NZ. US and NZ payment gateways are in place, and the application is fully customisable to suit the local sales environment and accommodate relevant taxes.
Flexi-pricing built in
We have also added flexi-pricing to the application to support multi-price tiers. Now Intouch customers can structure flexi-pricing promotions – eg 20 passes at 50% off, 100 passes at 10% off – within the application, without needing to involve a third party provider.
“Our customers tell us bringing important sales tools like flexi-pricing inside the application helps eliminate friction in the sales process, and makes it an even more compelling product. Purchasing tickets and validating them on the mountain is now seamless.” Arjan Noordhoek, Chief Technology Officer, Intouch Technology Group
Single page application for performance and UX
The Intouch ecommerce solution is a single page application, built with AngularJS and ASP.NET WebAPI frameworks, using a mobile-first approach. This delivers a responsive app-like experience that supports rich interactions with multiple page components adjusting automatically to different device form factors. A single page application also reduces the number of requests to the server, for better performance, faster load times and reduced bandwidth use – all critical when the user is up a mountain, using a mobile device and just wants to get out on the snow. No-one wants a technology-induced delay in the ticketing process.
Product Technical Architect Jim Taylor comments:
“ASP.NET Web API is a framework that makes it easy to build HTTP services that reach a broad range of clients, including browsers and mobile devices. ASP.NET Web API is an ideal platform for building RESTful applications on the .NET Framework.”
ASP.NET Web API allows for multiple clients to be built on top of it too. This means it’s extendable to accommodate future mobile apps and other products, an important consideration given Intouch’s growth ambitions.
The Intouch webstore has already supported a successful season at NZSki sites this year, and the busy beginning of the season for northern hemisphere customers.
Agile and DevOps behind the scenes for smart implementation
We worked in agile teams and took a DevOps approach to building the Intouch ecommerce platform – using TeamCity to bring together the people, process, and products involved in developing the solution, for continuous delivery
“DevOps on this project meant that we could continuously check in, integrate and deploy code, responsively and across different environments. It’s a faster way to build software, with fewer errors and less friction.” Nathan Smith, Head of Digital, Theta
Export success and “productisation”
The new ecommerce platform is already an export success for Intouch, with sales to ski fields in the US and Japan, and new sites already live.
We continued to develop the Intouch product after initial implementation, and have subsequently implemented flexi-pricing (detailed above). Ongoing work includes support for analytics and campaign management. Our DevOps approach streamlines the process of building and enhancing not just an application but a product that is relevant, compelling and straightforward to implement in multiple markets.
Built to scale on Azure
In parallel to the Intouch ecommerce solution, we developed a new website for sister company NZSki, which operates three ski fields in NZ’s South Island.
Both businesses experience seasonal peaks. When ticketing opens for the year, around particular promotions, and when the snow starts to fall, the sites get busy. And with Intouch, international product sales lead to increased load. Both sites were built, tested and deployed on Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, so they can scale seamlessly to support demand.
This project was featured in the Microsoft publication, Kiwi Companies in the Cloud.
AngularJS single page application
ASP.NET web API using json / REST approach for API
Microsoft Azure VM