UWE Bristol students develop e-commerce for community transport charity

Issue date: 09 March 2017

A team of students from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have developed an e-commerce hub for the Bristol based community transport charity Social Access.

Each year the Information Technology Management for Business course invites local charities and voluntary groups to bid for student teams to carry our work that will enhance the service they offer. The university is keen to ensure that the students are given the opportunity to work to a real client brief.

A student team of four has worked with the charity to help develop the e-commerce function on the website and also to research product ranges that will appeal to clients.

William Coldrick, Communications Manager on the student team, said, “We have really enjoyed pulling together a web site that will be easy for the charity to navigate when we are no longer there to maintain it. A key part of the task that Social Access set us was to build an e-commerce function that will enable a more entrepreneurial approach through sales of products that will be useful for the customers who use their services.

“Alongside building the website and online shop we also produced a report that analysed how other similar charities approached fundraising through entrepreneurial activity. We looked into potential product ranges that the charity might want to develop including accessories for wheelchairs but also some promotional products like t-shirts.

“Our team has benefitted hugely from carrying out the project as we have gained useful insights into how charities operate and learned about how important it is to be efficient when doing work for an organisation that has significant financial and time constraints. We have learned about the challenges that smaller organisations are faced with and it's been a humbling experience to feel that what we do will make an important contribution.”

Adele Haley, CEO of Social Access, said, “I cannot speak too highly of the UWE students we have had the pleasure of working with as part of this brilliant scheme.

“We have bid successfully for the student consultancy on many occasions with students helping us to build our website, developing an electronic scanning system to help us with storing our schedules and this year with helping us to develop e-commerce.

“Of course this is a two way process and we commit to supporting the students whilst they work on projects. This year it has been great to see two women on the student team. As an IT graduate I have a vested interest in encouraging more women into what is a male dominated profession.

“I am always so impressed with the way UWE Bristol students not only come up with great IT solutions but also how they learn from and become involved in our client group. Many will not have encountered disability before and I'm always impressed and inspired by the way they go all out to understand the difficulties experienced by our customers and integrate this understanding into their reports and proposals.”

Kamran Munir, supervisor of the student team, said, “I have really enjoyed the experience of working on this interesting project with such a fine team. These real projects provide an enormously valuable experience for students exploring the value of good project management and multidisciplinary collaboration.

“They develop the intellectual skills of critical analysis and also valuable transferable skills such as teamwork, interacting with other people, time and resource management.”

Dr Nick Plant who runs the projects as part of the UWE Community Action and Knowledge Exchange scheme (CAKE), said, “We are very proud of the work our students do and it is wonderful to be in a position to provide expertise where and when it is needed but also to work with charities as partners and placement providers.”

To find out more about CAKE projects see here

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