Over twenty five years ago in 1993, a man named Ron White had a vision for the future of shoes. People could make them look good, but they would hurt your feet. Heels in particular were notorious for this—yet people put up with it.
Ron did not want to put up with it. The status quo was that you would sacrifice comfort for style, and he was intent on kicking it to the curb. Ron went on a mission to re-engineer the heel, working with Italian factories, sourcing NASA technology, and poring over schematics and designs. Then he had it. A comfortable heel. The world’s first All Day Heel™ worked. He pitched it, demoed it, and slowly (but surely) became a legend.
Ron White’s line of women’s and men’s shoes exploded, growing into several different lines and carried across dozens of high end retailers across North America. Stand alone stores popped up in Toronto, where it all began. He’d soon reach five of these brick and mortar establishments.
As Ron’s empire grew, so did something else. A curious communication technology known as the Internet rose alongside the shoe sensation. With online shopping sparking as a legitimate outlet, Ron White’s business needed a website. They built one, and they did it in Flash.
Adobe Flash was the premiere multimedia production software of the 2000’s. Used for video, animation, gaming, graphic design and more, the program was central to many major sites during this period. Early YouTube, in 2005, used Flash to compress and display its videos.
On April 29, 2010, Steve Jobs penned an open letter entitled, “Thoughts on Flash.” Long story short, he said Apple would not be using Flash on their mobile products, such as the iPhone or iPod Touch. Looking back, it’s easy to see how this helped trigger the downfall of the program. On top of this, faster and more flexible options, such as HTML5, became available for multimedia. In late 2011, Adobe announced it would no longer continue development on Flash.
Many sites still used it, however. The investment to get a good Flash-based site up and running was considerable, and overhauling it for newer tech is not a small feat. Ron White’s online store was no exception, and they held onto it as long as they could.
These days, it’s important to realize that you can’t just turn on an online store and let it go — Rick McLaughlin
As the decade of the 2010’s marched on, technology continued to soar. Ron White’s site became more and more obsolete—especially as the rise of smartphones began; Flash did not work well (or at all) on mobile. Eventually, they had to face the overhaul.
Bannan Communications was hired for the task. Not only was there a need to totally reconfigure the site—Ron’s backend inventory system RICS needed to be able to interface with the new site in order to efficiently manage hundreds of SKUs. RICS also connected directly to the point of sale machines in-store, so there was no getting around the system.
“These days, it’s important to realize that you can’t just turn on an online store and let it go,” says Rick McLaughlin, Bannan’s Creative Director. “You need to resource these things. You have to staff and maintain it, and in some ways treat it like a brick and mortar store.”
A major challenge was building a communication bridge between two pieces of software (RICS and Shopify). There was a solution pre-built in the market, but it only handled partial information exchange. For Ron’s online store to work, it needed full exchange. Bannan Communications coded this full bridge from scratch, custom tailored to Ron’s product catalogue. This internal system was further developed into a user friendly app that Ron’s staff could use—avoiding the need to call on a developer to update the store or make administrative changes.
A big component of what we do at Bannan Communications is demystification — Vanja Bannan
Vanja Bannan, founder of Bannan Communications, explains another crucial piece of the puzzle. “A big component of what we do at Bannan Communications is demystification,” she says. “We take the time to educate our clients about the abstract digital world. Ron was an excellent student who was fully committed to the entire process. He was open to new ideas, he was patient and above all he trusted us to do what we said we would do. I take great pride in our agency’s work and nothing makes me happier than exceeding my client’s expectations.”
To that end, Ron himself says, “Vanja and her team at Bannan Communications have dramatically transformed our global online business. They were competitively priced and have been nothing but professional and helpful in working with my team and I to redesign, build and deploy our new website. Sales from month one went up over 200% and haven’t stopped!”
Vanja and her team at Bannan Communications have dramatically transformed our global online business — Ron White
2020 is the year that Adobe plans to fully sunset Flash for good. As Ron White prepares for this next exciting decade, Bannan Communications stands with him, ensuring his new online store stays technologically current and operational. We’re also preparing to take on a larger role in his international digital marketing, with aims to let the world know that comfortable and stylish footwear is no longer a dream.