building a custom ecommerce solution with WordPress, WooCommerce, and Mailchimp

the problem.

The Goalie Training Institute, an elite goalie training company in Toronto, was using a variety of handcrafted email messages, email money transfers, and cheques to sell their services. This approach became unsustainable as their business grew. They needed a better way.

the background.

The Goalie Training Institute sells training sessions for goalies. Their training program is built around four key parts of the hockey year: in-season training, a Christmas break camp, a spring tune-up program, and their very popular summer development program. Each part of their program is sold in packages of multiple sessions, and the solution needs to be easy for clients to pick a package and pay for it using GTI’s existing credit card processor.

the solution.

a custom e-commerce web solution, a corporate email domain, and outbound email marketing service.

the technology.

The custom GTI ecommerce site was built using WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin, with hosting by WP Engine.

We used WordPress for the site as it’s a powerful yet easy to use web CMS and is easy to  add functionality through the massive plugin ecosystem. The choice of WordPress also makes it easy to add a blog to the site at a later date.

WooCommerce is the de-facto standard in e-commerce solutions for WordPress and it’s easy to see why. The free plugin includes enough functionality to get an e-commerce site up and running with minimal configuration and the extensive plugin ecosystem means that there are many options to extend WooCommerce and add most functionality that an e-commerce site might require.

We selected WP Engine to host the site because the offer solid, hassle-free hosting. Ideal for this project is the production/staging setup that is included with each WP Engine account, SSH access to both environments, daily backups, and easy SSL certificate issuing.

Already using a public Gmail account for their business, it was an easy switch GTI to a hosted G Suite domain. We acquired the goalietraininginstitute.ca domain and setup G Suite. All data was migrated from their old email account and the switch-over to the new account was seamless. This setup also gives GTI the ability to easily add user accounts as they grow.

the delivery.

For the Spring 2020 sessions, GTI wanted to sell groups of training sessions in three configurations: 5 sessions on consecutive Sundays, 6 sessions on consecutive Tuesdays, or all 11 sessions. Also important, on each day in the program, GTI runs several sessions for different groups of goalies based on age and skill level.

This approach to packaging the training sessions will be used for most of their training programs throughout the year, so it was important to find the right WooCommerce configuration to make it really easy for their clients to find and buy the desired training packages.

Each package was configured as a variable product, with inventory managed at the product variation level. Each age/level group was added as a variant, so that a client could easily pick the desired package and then select the variation for the age and level of the goalie.

This is all pretty straight-forward with WooCommerce, but it did require some custom code to make sure that when someone purchased the 11-pack of sessions that there would be one less session available for both the 5-pack or 6-pack sessions and if a client purchased either a 5-pack or a 6-pack, then there would be one less space available for an 11-pack. The details of the solution will be covered in a future blog post.