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RetroCo goes future with Meantime’s software

A company which creates birthday cards featuring songs and videos from birth years on a disc which comes with the card has implemented Meantime’s software to enable customers to download their purchases. RetroCo approached Meantime to create the program to expand their service and enable customers to electronically download the music and videos contained on the disc within the card.

Retro Co screenshotChris Leaning is the managing director of RetroCo. He explains: “Our greeting card business with hard copies of the CDs featuring music and videos from particular years has been very successful for many years. But people are increasingly listening to music electronically on MP3 players; many people don’t even have the equipment to play a physical CD anymore. We wanted to give them the option to purchase the music as a download as well.”

With over 60 CDs, each with 20 tracks, there were several issues which needed to be addressed by Meantime. First, each file would need to be uploaded individually, rather than as single products containing 20 tracks. Second, downloading these multiple files would normally require the user to either install a software plugin such as Flash or Java, or accept each of the 20 songs or videos as individual files. Finally, RetroCo would need a large expensive server capable of handling the maximum load possible, but this would be under-utilised at all but the busiest of times.

Meantime addressed the server problem by using Amazon Cloud servers to manage the uploading and downloading of files. Amazon Cloud determines which of its servers has most capacity and assigns the uploading to that server to ensure speedy progress. However, when the files are downloaded by the customer using their own, slower, systems, Amazon Cloud was marking the downloads as complete in RetroCo’s admin system but they hadn’t necessarily been received by the customer.

To bypass this problem, Meantime created a system which allows RetroCo’s admin system to upload all the individual files contained in the customer’s order as one single package. A progress bar tracks the upload process, and as soon as the upload is complete the individual files are automatically zipped into one single download package.

The package is then downloaded to the customer, who also has a progress bar to check the status of the download. If for any reason it does not complete, both the customer and RetroCo will be alerted immediately. The whole process is carried out on-the-fly and triggered by the customer entering their download code into RetroCo’s website.

“The brief I gave to Meantime was simply to create a system that would offer customers the ability to download the tracks,” says Chris. “I had no idea how it would work in practice. Meantime took my idea and very methodically worked through the technical process to come up with a system that was exactly what we needed.

“Working with Fenner, the managing director, and his team was a revelation. I’d had terrible experiences with other IT companies I’d worked with, but Meantime’s team did absolutely everything I wanted and more with no fuss, minimum input from me and a fantastic end result.”

RetroCo is currently trialling the download products in the north of England and the west coast of America, but hopes to roll it out across their other global territories next spring. “It’s going to be a huge job,” says Chris. “But there’s absolutely no doubt that Meantime will be doing that work for us.”

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