Can you present yourself?
My name is Pierre Bodinier and I’m 33. I’ve worked as a developer for 12 years. I’ve worked for IT consulting on projects in food service, nuclear security, or even Orange Caribbean in the sector of Quality Assurance and Front Office development. I’ve also worked as a software tester for Microsoft and Google.
Now I’m employed by the company Ancolie for http://www.lilasroseboutique.com as project manager/ developer, but I also have my own business on the side doing specific developments for PrestaShop and continuing Quality Assurance for Microsoft and Google.
How did you discover PrestaShop?
While setting up Lilasroseboutique, two years ago, I tested out several e-commerce solutions: PrestaShop, OsCommerce, Magento, and the Sage Ecommerce solution (which the business uses for CRM). PrestaShop very quickly stood out as the best and most promising solution in regards to its active and welcoming community.
What are, according to you, PrestaShop’s assets?
PrestaShop’s principal asset in my opinion is that it’s Open Source. After that, its assets are the active community that can always be counted on, the Prestateam that’s always willing to listen to the needs of its users, and the clear source codes on a strong and efficient database: all-together, a great base for a large project! The PrestaShop solution was the perfect solution for me: the core and templates are easy to modify, and the community is always available to help new arrivals (which I was, at the time).
What software do you use alongside PrestaShop?
For development needs under PrestaShop I use Eclipse, for graphic projects (such as photo clippings, illustrations, etc) I use Gimp, and lastly I use SharpDevelop for little, quick specific developments.
Can you explain, in just a few words, the concept of Lilasroseboutique?
Lilasroseboutique.com lets you buy flowers and bouquets directly from a supplier and guarantees that your order will arrive the next day, ensuring that your flower delivery will be fresher than those of our competitors.
When did you join the Lilasroseboutique project?
I was behind the project: my employers created this post for me so that I could develop this business for their company. I work alone on development, SEO, customer service, communication, and logistics. Then there’s a team of certified florists that create the bouquets ordered and several people who do shipping and handling.
How long did it take to develop Lilasroseboutique?
It took me 6 months to get the site up and running, which included learning all about PrestaShop, planning all the project specifics and details, and finally creating the site (developing and adding computer graphics) as well as the very important annex software, which helps us prepare orders and follow them after they’re sent. Once an order is placed, a bar code sticker is made that allows us to identify the bouquet throughout every step of its creation. At the moment it’s sent out, the bar code is scanned and the Chronopost transportation code, as well as the special message requested for the recipient, is printed as the last step in preparing the package and updating our order status with Chronopost (all thanks to an API developed in PrestaShop!).
What PrestaShop features did you love the most?
I think that the ‘variations’ and ‘groups and attributes’ features really tip the scales, but in general, managing the site and the catalogs and stocks is really simple and intuitive. The SEO part included in PrestaShop is also a key feature.
What are technical improvements that made this site successful?
First, the product file displays a large, beautiful image of the bouquet to be ordered. Changing the image while hovering the mouse over different prices (which depend on different bouquet sizes) was also a great improvement. After that, I think that the checkout process developed specifically for our site (which took a lot of thinking) helped give us our conversion rate of 8%. One more thing needs to be mentioned: a traditional ecommerce site is aimed at clients who buy a product for themselves. In our case, 98% of our orders are sent to other people; therefore, we had to carefully redesign how we manage both our clients and our delivery addresses.
How did the site start to gain attention?
We started with the classic method of SEO / Google Adwords. Next, thanks to some contacts, we were able to have a stand at the International Agriculture Forum and represent the sector or flowers from the Pays de la Loire region in 2011. However, it was really our TV presence on French shows such as Télématin, C’est au programme, or Comment ça va bien, as well as our radio presentation on France Inter, that helped publicize the site.
How did the site handle the sudden increase in user traffic?
In the beginning, our host was too limiting in terms of number of simultaneous connections on the database. We upgraded our host and since then haven’t had a problem. The limitations we faced came from our host and not from PrestaShop.
Today, are the company’s results what you and your employers were hoping for from the very beginning?
One year after launching the site, we became a truly successful business: we sometimes get over 1,000 orders a day and we’re so thrilled to see how well the idea works and how happy it makes our clients. We hope that Lilasroseboutique’s second year will be just as encouraging as the first, and that we will soon be able to create jobs in site exploitation, customer service, as well as in the French horticultural field, which unfortunately has been suffering a downturn for many years.
I’d also like to take a minute to thank the PrestaTeam and the PrestaShop community once again, without whom this project would have never been a success!