About Human-I-T

BigCommerce Helps Human-I-T Bridge the Digital Divide While Protecting the Earth from E-Waste.

It was in 2012 spurred by an unnecessary trashing incident of a virus-infected laptop that IT technician, James Jack and his friend, Gabe Middleton found one simple solution to two problems. Human-I-T was built out of the need to reduce electronic waste by refurbishing and redistributing it to families in need.

The non-profit aims to reduce the digital divide by providing access to devices, internet, tech support, and digital skills training to low-income communities at reduced prices. These devices are accumulated by approaching corporations to donate their decommissioned laptops, printers, hard disks, etc. that would otherwise go to landfill.

Human-I-T’s humble beginning from a 50 square foot-lobby and razor-thin margins has now developed into a company with 150+ personnel and headquarters in L.A. But as the company scaled, it outgrew its proprietary e-commerce platform which was no longer able to support Human-I-T’s growth initiatives. This is where Codaemon came in to bridge this gap so that Human-I-T could continue bridging the other, bigger ‘digital’ gap.

How we did it

Human-I-T’s proprietary e-commerce platform could not support the company’s advanced feature requirements such as multi-step checkout, subscription services, integration of third-party software, etc. As a result, it was impeding the company’s growth and hampering customer experience to a great degree.

The natural plan of action in this situation was replatforming. Given the unique requirements of Human-I-T, BigCommerce turned out to be the most suitable platform due to its flexibility and support. A migration journey was mapped out and the custom builds were developed and integrated in the new store.

20,000 user accounts, 117 products, and 9 categories migrated to the new BigCommerce store in a record time of 2 months with zero downtime, zero customer complaints, and traffic recovery within three months of going live. With a new website, Human-I-T’s growth plans are now unstoppable. The customer journey on the new website is consistent, accommodating of Human-I-T’s user type, and serves its purpose well. BigCommerce’s ecosystem adds scalability and innovation along with great customer support that will help Human-I-T on its road to making a difference.


No room to scale.   Human-I-T retails refurbished, low-cost electronics to low-income communities through its ancillary Human-I-T store, previously known as HITConnect. Since it was built on a proprietary e-commerce platform, unlike SaaS, the system had its shortcomings.
  • It had very little room for change
  • It couldn’t accommodate the integration with peripheral software
  • It was impossible to make it quickly adapt to marketing promotions, and so on
The growing company needed room to scale that the existing platform didn’t have enough of. When Human-I-T realized that it was time to make the switch to a more robust e-commerce platform, they took the first step by getting in touch with Codaemon.

BigCommerce to the Rescue. But Why BigCommerce?

A platform migration process needs several key points to be taken into consideration. The new platform should have the necessary infrastructure to support the old website’s core functionalities, have the scope for new customizations, and allow for a seamless transition of data.

Considering that this was not a straightforward replatforming, the discovery phase was spent on identifying a platform that meets Human-I-T’s unique requirements. For example, Human-I-T has a multi-step purchasing process. It requires a buyer to be pre-approved based on their income documents to be eligible for purchasing the low-cost products. The focus of this replatforming was on improving this multi-step purchasing process for an audience that would majorly access the site using older technology. This means the platform needed to accommodate a custom purchase process and accessibility from a wide net of devices.

Taking these unique requirements into account, several e-commerce platforms were considered including Shopify Plus. But BigCommerce proved most suitable due to a number of reasons:
    1. BigCommerce has an array of powerful, industry-leading native tools to support Human-I-T’s core functionalities
    2. For Human-I-T’s more advanced feature requirements like document upload, low-cost internet subscription service, etc. that aren’t native to BigCommerce, we could simply use the platform’s custom development feature
    3. BigCommerce’s powerful APIs come with in-built support for peripheral software like Avalara, Zendesk, etc. that Human-I-T needs for their day-to-day operations
  What puts BigCommerce a notch above other platforms is its level of flexibility and ease of use. Being a SaaS platform, it was easy to unpack and launch while having room to scale for future needs. We could leverage its extensibility to connect Human-I-T’s existing systems. And we could utilize its high-performing APIs to create custom apps for Human-I-T’s services.

All through the discovery and integration process, BigCommerce provided us with a dedicated solution architect and delivery manager who helped design the custom apps and launch the refurbished store.

Setting Up the BigCommerce Store

Platform migration being a complex procedure, we at Codaemon take utmost care in being thorough with each detail. To ready the relocation site, we first needed to get the user experience and the core functionalities in order. So our dev team tackled the general settings like currency, language, and email setup while simultaneously working with our design team to set up Stencil, select a suitable theme, and create page mockups. A discount-coupon functionality was set up. We also set up CCPA/GDPR cookie consent via Avada. 

The existing website’s layout was referred to to set up the CMS pages on the new website and add content and graphics to them. Appropriate branding was applied to the e-commerce pages like Cart, Checkout, My Account, Orders, etc. to maintain consistency in user experience. We used BigCommerce’s native tools to set up shipping and payment methods.

Data Migration

When it comes to data migration, no website is the same. Neither should the procedure be, which is why we utilize custom scripts for every data migration project depending on the requirement instead of relying on a blanket solution. What this does is, prevents the risk of data corruption, data leakage, and extended downtime.

We monitored the transfer of every data point during the migration process, how these points were interpreted in the new BigCommerce site, and ensured that every data was accounted for. We migrated 20,000 user accounts, 9 product categories, 117 products and set them up on the new site in a record time of two months. We maintained transparency with Human-I-T throughout the data sync process so that they know exactly what is happening to the data. The migration was flawless with zero downtime and customer complaints.

Custom App Setup for Improved Functionality

With Human-I-T, it wasn’t all about data migration. We also needed to focus on the two key features of this replatforming exercise - setting up a subscription app for low-cost internet connection and creating a user-friendly multi-step checkout process. Since BigCommerce supports custom app development, it became easier for us to provide the exact solution that Human-I-T was looking for.

For internet subscriptions, we evaluated a few popular 3rd party subscription apps. None of the apps provided the option to the customers to switch between manual and automatic renewals. So we created a custom app using Bigcommerce APIs and gave the customers the choice between automatic and manual renewals. We extended the multi-step custom checkout process where customers could upload their income documents, to the subscription purchase as well.

Keeping SEO Consistent With 301s and 404s

One of the main concerns that companies have before replatforming is losing their search engine rank when switching servers. If proper migration tactics are not implemented, the changes in the structure, URLs, etc. that a site undergoes during migration puts it at risk of losing all the hard work you have put into it. This makes SEO a crucial part of site migration.

When a site is moved to a new URL, the old URL generates a 404 error. To avoid this, the easiest course of action is to map the old URL to point to the new URL, also known as 301 redirect. While this keeps the user experience seamless, it still isn’t enough. You also need to inform the search engine that your site has moved. That’s where our expertise comes in. Our SEO team worked alongside our design and development teams to rewrite 301 redirect rules, create sitemap and robots.txt file, integrate Google Analytics code, and make the necessary changes to meta tags, canonical tags, schema markups, image ALT tags, etc. These measures helped the site begin recovering its organic search traffic within three months of going live.

Client Speaks

"Our original HIT Connect store was built on a proprietary platform and over the years we realized that it wasn't scalable to meet our short-term and long-term needs. We were unable to add some custom features or new landing pages with relative ease. It was also hindering our daily backend operations. All of this was causing a major setback in carrying out our mission efficiently. We needed a platform that could solve all of these problems and deliver an improved customer experience.

Along with Codaemon we evaluated our options and decided on BigCommerce. The platform is easy to use and navigate, with a wide range of features. Its native tools and useful APIs give you the capabilities to build custom apps and integrations. It was just what we needed.

Codaemon was able to leverage BigCommerce’s flexibility to build custom features for our store and managed to make the user experience more cohesive. We faced minimal issues with the data migration and were up and running quickly. Overall, the new platform has provided us with the tools to manage subscriptions, eligibility checks, and daily operations easier and more efficiently. It has been a great help to our mission of providing technology to individuals and families."

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