Chemist in Laboratory Chemicals in Lab
Client
  • Fluorochem
Industry:
    Retail
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Around 1 million products & 100,000 assets migrated and organised.
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Backend functionality and search systems that are unique to market.
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CRM data utilised to follow legislative guidelines.
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Comprehensive eCommerce function and control.
Fluorochem display booth with two people

Meet the client

For over 40 years – Fluorochem has been a UK based supplier of intermediaries, labware and equipment for research and development to biotechnological companies, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other certified research bodies. Their extensive product portfolio has well over 100,000 items – and around 1 million individual potential products / molecular chemical compounds.

We embraced the challenge of developing ‘Doug Discovery’ – their initiative for an extensive search engine for chemical and molecule component groups.

Problems

  • Needed an eCommerce solution for an enormous catalogue.
  • Over 100,000 assets & around 1 million products.
  • Required a highly accurate, flexible, and comprehensive search engine.
  • Customer management – shipping information and legal restrictions.
  • Shipping changes due to Brexit legislation.
  • Technical issues on development and hosting infrastructure as the service is used globally 24/7.

Solutions

  • eCommerce backend infrastructure and user interface.
  • Asset migration of around a million molecules and their data.
  • API endpoint so client can post size options and price data.
  • Asset organisation and sorting through attached data.
  • Configured suitable and accurately functioning search queries.
  • Customer management.
  • Multiple search functions to enhance accuracy and user interface and experience.
  • Chat function for easy access to support and user communication.
  • Optimised search speeds

Results

  • Migrated and organised 100,000+ assets and around 1 million product pieces.
  • Simple but highly accurate product search tool.
  • Fully functional ‘Sketcher Search’ tool.
  • ‘Concept Search’ function, and backend functionality that is unique to market.
  • Organisation, tracking and sorting of customer and shipping information.
  • Brand-enhancing, minimalist design
  • Search through 1 million records in under 4 seconds
Doug search engine on a laptop screen
Doug sketcher search tool on laptop screen

Sketcher Search Tool

Users may not know the exact name of the component they are trying to find. A utility we have developed is the ‘sketcher search’, allowing users to find what they are searching for through their composite drawings within the tool.

The sketcher tool enables users to insert external composites, save their own, and search through sub-structures, similarity, super-structures, or the exact composite.

Three laptops with doug discovery grid tree list feature displayed

Grid, Tree, and List View

These ways of organising the catalogue and search results offer users different means of locating what they are after. The grid view is simple, providing an overview of components, with a list overview on the left-hand side, including information on the number of different molecules. Hovering the cursor over each item in the grid view reveals the CAS, weighed amounts, and pricing.

The tree view sorts the items from the query. Further variations of the component branch off, hovering over each item displays the component and information such as catalogue number, number of atoms and molecular weight.

The list view assorts the items into a list while providing various search refinement options such as molecular weight, rotatable bonds, HDA, and more.

Laptop displaying doug discovery extensive data organisation

Extensive Data Per Item

Each item contains information – over fourteen properties and six details, excluding eCommerce information such as price, weight, and availability. We have included a spider-web graph to accompany each item depicting the properties for a quick and complete overview. These data sets allow users to select and compare items across the Doug Discovery database. We implemented custom queries to best navigate and find the right product based on the attached data.

Fluorochem services organisations globally, certain chemical products have legislation preventing their export or transaction to certain areas. To simplify this process, legally restricted actions have been made invisible to the Fluorochem clients they apply to, ensuring no accidental breach of any law.

Chat Function

Using a third-party extension from tawk.to we have configured a reliable, quick, and simple method of real-time communication between agents and visitors. This extension is free, and updates are run without our involvement, eliminating the need to repeatedly visit the feature whenever there are issues due to a lack of maintenance and upkeep with evolving web technology.

Secure Hosting & Migration

Several separate systems required migration. The client required that it be stable and reliable for users. We rigorously planned and migrated these systems and assets to AWS structures. We implemented auto-scaling structures and currently manage ten servers for Fluorochem’s ‘Doug Discovery’. We are also now a proud technical partner of theirs and handle anything related to digital aspects of their operation. We are confident that this long-term relationship will be significantly mutually beneficial.

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The biggest problem we faced was the compatibility issues between the search configuration within Magento and the complex and unusual searchable data such as the CAS, MDL, and catalogue numbers that populate Doug Discovery. To solve this, I had to bypass Magento’s ElasticSearch implementation. By testing Elasticsearch directly, I discovered how to build queries that got the desired results at a reliable rate with high accuracy. Once successful, I implemented these queries in Magento and had a highly accurate search engine.

James Pollard | Backend Developer

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Fluorochem's Doug Discovery