Let’s talk about money. Not the abstract concept of money, nor the equally abstract digits one can see on their bank app, but the physical, monarch’s head–decorated precious ore-based coins. This is where this story begins.
The Royal Mint is among the world’s 10 oldest companies, having been founded back in 886 (yes, we got this number right), and has been producing coins ever since. So, when we joined forces to embark on an ambitious digital transformation project, to say we were thrilled would be to say nothing. But how do you digitally transform a 1,100+ year old company?
The Royal Mint is focused on its digital transformation journey, and we have been delighted to work with our trusted partner, NoA Ignite to incorporate new technology into the business, that’s both secure and scalable.
We’ve seen improved website performance during periods of high traffic and our daily interactions with the team have been seamless. Our teams have worked closely together to create a modern e-commerce platform that delivers a smooth and premium experience for our customers.
Group IT Director
The Royal Mint
The first challenge of this exciting digital transformation journey was to take a legacy business of manufacturing coins and metals into the world of e-commerce. The challenge was not only to preserve the rich heritage but also to incorporate innovative technology that would allow catering to the needs and preferences of the digital age. Items such as digital bullion and recycled precious metals were planned to become a significant source of revenue for the company as it transforms.
Moreover, with the outbreak of Covid-19, the demand for online sales skyrocketed, and The Royal Mint had to act quickly to meet the expectations of customers who were now more inclined to shop online. We had to ensure that the new e-commerce platform was not only user-friendly but also secure, efficient, and scalable.
Imagine the launch of a new collectable item and the following need to serve 12 000 orders coming in at the same time. The challenge, therefore, became one of successfully pairing stability, scalability, and flexibility to accommodate product- and industry-specific functionalities at a time of their rapid transformation.
We wanted to keep the site lightweight and fast while still being able to use the full array of capabilities that Optimizely brings. This was the end goal of this stage of our transformation project. The website redesign involved upgrading the old AngularJS site to use React. The new code was then incorporated into the existing .NET project together with React, which was used as a micro frontend.
In selected areas where more complex functionality was needed, mini React applications were injected. This approach enabled the team to use React everywhere on the site, but the site itself is not a React application. Instead, the team generated static pages from the backend and used React only where it was most necessary. For instance, React was used for the basket and checkout pages, while text elements that did not require any logic were not built with React.
The site is now much more maintainable, as changes could be made to the React components without affecting the rest of the site. Additionally, the team did not have to rebuild the entire site from scratch, as they were able to incorporate the new design into the existing .NET project.
hits in the 12hrs
transactions in the 12hrs
With The Royal Mint, the team had to manage three different sites: Royalmint.com, 886.royalmint.com, and royalmintmuseum.org.uk, using a single Optimizely account. This is possible using a multi-site setup, where multiple domains can be hosted on the same DXP (Digital Experience Platform).
By sharing the code base across all three sites, the team was able to reuse certain elements such as the shopping cart, checkout page, and login page. However, other elements such as the product catalogue had to be developed separately for each site.
One of the main advantages of using a multi-site and multi-catalogue setup is the ability to simplify the management of the project. In this case, the client wanted to launch the new 886 store, and at the same time required managing separate catalogues for Royalmint.com and 886.royalmint.com projects. By using the existing Optimizely instance, the team was able to avoid the complexities of setting up new hosting environments and building processes.
From an editor's perspective, the multi-site and multi-catalogue setup also simplified the management of content and products. The editors could use the same CMS tree to manage pages for all three sites and the same commerce panel to manage all products. This minimised the learning curve for editors, enabling them to be productive quickly.
The team has implemented the two most important integrations to optimise e-commerce operations.
The goal of the first integration was to enable all product information, inventory, and user data to be transferred seamlessly between the two systems, ensuring data accuracy, and reducing errors. The integration involved connecting an external ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics, with Optimizely Commerce.
The goal of the second integration was to ensure that customers of The Royal Mint are basing their choices on accurate and competitive prices for their products. The work here involved connecting with an external service that provides current gold prices. This external service enables the company to retrieve up-to-date gold prices for use in their e-commerce transactions. For instance, when a customer wishes to purchase a bullion product, the company sends a request to the external service, indicating that the customer wants to buy gold at the current market price. This request is only valid for a limited time, and if the customer makes the purchase, the company confirms it with the external service.
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The team at NoA Ignite has researched and rewritten the checkout process to address some of the issues with the initial setup.
Previously, there were several different paths depending on the items in the cart. Buying investment products, collectables, or a mix of both would lead to different checkout experiences. This approach was confusing and made it difficult to maintain and update the system.
To solve this problem, the team created a new, consistent checkout process that looks and functions the same regardless of the contents of the cart. This simplifies the checkout experience for customers and reduces the chance of errors or confusion.
Another notable change to the checkout process is the ability to pay with credit cards for investment products. Previously, customers could only use a pre-loaded wallet to purchase these items.
With such a successful transformation, we demonstrated how to balance tradition and innovation to thrive in the digital age. We understand that transformation is an ongoing challenge, and as trusted partners, both parties are engaged to leverage technology to deliver value and bottom-line impact in a traditional business model. Focusing on aspects such as customer data and personalisation is on the roadmap towards digital excellence.
Using Optimizely ecommerce platform, we worked on developing an online clothing store that combines sustainability in fashion with high-quality technology.