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Mail order gift catalogue

Project Scope

Owl Barn Gifts approached Rade with a brief to redesign and rebuild their ecommerce website and then provide a two-way integration with a Filemaker database that forms the basis of their back office. In addition, a second integration was required to link with their third-party fulfilment house providing up to date stock and sales information.

Selling a range of gifts by mail order, the business model is based around printed seasonal catalogues and whilst the website forms an integral part, a high proportion of orders are placed via telephone or traditional post. The aim was to make online ordering simpler to help cut down the hours that the customer services team were spending taking phone orders.


The project was split into three distinct phases concentrating on design, website development and integration respectively and each carried out sequentially to ensure that nothing was missed during each phase.

In terms of design, we took a detailed brief from the client and then started by creating wireframe layouts of the key site pages. This is particularly important for ecommerce as it ensures successful placement of the main page elements as well as previsualising the user journey. The aim of an ecommerce site is to convert sales and therefore if the user journey is haphazard or unclear, site sales will be compromised.

With the design complete, it was possible to build the site pages. For this project, Magento 2 was chosen as the ecommerce platform. Magento 2 provides a scalable and robust ecommerce system with a tried and tested user experience including carefully formatted product pages, basket and checkout. Some custom development was undertaken to provide specific requested features, as well as the addition of carefully selected third party extensions to provide additional merchandising and marketing functionality.

One of the key benefits of Magento is that it is very well supported with integration options, meaning we could achieve the data exchange required with both Filemaker (for product information) and customer/stock information (via the third-party fulfilment partner).

To facilitate the integration with Filemaker, significant development, the use of a dedicated extension (Firebear), and the adaptation of the existing Filemaker database was required. Rade worked closely with the supplier of the Firebear extension, Owl Barn Gifts and the customer’s third-party fulfilment house to achieve the integration desired.

As with a lot of ecommerce sites, there are always improvements that we learn along the way. Owl Barn is very active in this respect with new merchandising ideas and improvements. Rade is very happy to help and support with these new features as part of a continual improvement process


Established in 1995, the Owl Barn Gift Catalogue is a mail order business based in East Anglia, which serves regular customers throughout the UK.


David Bird, Operations Manager

"We commissioned Rade to design and build a new e-commerce website for our mail order gift company - based on a Magento 2 platform - the site integrated with our in-house CRM system and linked to a third party fulfilment partner.

The collaborative approach adopted ensured that we remained informed of developments throughout the project, this allowed us to understand any challenges encountered and make decisions based on our business requirements and budgetary framework.

Ultimately, the time and consideration taken to gain a good understanding of how our business operates was, I believe, the key factor in enabling Rade to deliver a solution that integrated to our workflow and has enabled us to provide a better online experience for our customers."

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