Smart Shopping Assistant to transform the online shopping experience

, Smart Shopping Assistant to transform the online shopping experience

VSH solutions designed and developed an advanced SaaS-based product from scratch to provide a complete sales and marketing automation tool with a number of industry-first features.

Product Brief

Zen Shopping was developed as a smart shopping assistant to facilitate the online shopping experience with unique offerings like price comparison, coupons, discount offers, shipment tracking, price drop alerts, post-delivery support and many other features to make the online shopping more easy.

Deployment of the first version turned out to be decisive event as Zen Shopping received exceptional response with more than 100, 000 downloads in the first week only; identifying the huge requirement of a competent solution in the domain Zen Shopping management decided to extend its features and provide end to end online shopping assistance platform with number of industry first features. In the second phase, additional features were introduced in the product making it one of most efficient application in the category.

Zen shopping’s new features and upgraded technology allows users to search and compare prices in over 100,000 stores and buy anything in one tap with the guaranteed best price.

Zen Shopping’s development was one of the complex project with engagement duration of more than three years. The project scope consisted of development of:

  • Web Application
  • Google Chrome Extension
  • iOS Safari mobile extension
  • iPad and iPhone Applications

Background

VSH had a previous engagement with the client for the development of web and mobile application developed to donate the cash back rewards and rewards of online shopping to non-profit organizations, the solution got acquired by a San Francisco based company.
Having acquaintance with the professional approach and technical competency of the VSH team, the client chose VSH as a technology partner for the development of Zen Shopping with the steady engagement of twelve resources for a period of three years.

Our Solution

The application development initiated with extensive market research in the digital commerce domain and based on research analysis the features were finalized which included price comparison of product across the digital commerce platforms, coupons and best offer suggestions, receipts management, shipment tracking, post-delivery support, product notifications and price drop alerts.

2 nd version of the product was developed after the overwhelming response to the product, which included technology upgradation and feature additions based on the feedback received from users.

The most important part of the 2 nd phase was the inclusion of universal checkout system which allowed users to buy any product from any store and complete the checkout with just one click without creating an account on that particular store.

Crawling

Crawling of millions of products across more than 10,000 online stores with their detailed information, deals and coupons from a number of websites and third-party sources and providing these details relevant to the user’s search was a herculean task which demanded an intelligent and robust crawling solution. For this purpose, VSH leveraged its Crawling Platform and developed a set of data crawlers to crawl data in near real time with high accuracy.

Offshore development Centre

All the websites from which Zen Shopping used to crawl the information were dynamic websites and their content/data used to change from time to time. So it was difficult to keep a check on the accuracy and health of the crawlers. In order to maintain high availability of the crawlers, stakeholders decided to set up an offshore development center in India to maintain the crawlers and to support the order processing and fulfillment.

VSH was given the complete responsibility to set up an offshore development center in India and oversee its thoroughgoing operations from recruitment, training to resource management.

Semi-automatic System

Universal checkout system exponentially increased Zen Shopping’s user base and processing of a number of orders from these users; in order to keep the order processing flawless and mitigate the risks, the semi-automatic system was developed to complete the order processing with a touch of human interference. The back end operations of this system were executed
from offshore development center in India and VSH oversaw the administration of these operations.

End to end involvement

During the development phase of the product, there was an immense need to have a close and real time communication between the Zen Shopping stakeholders and VSH development team. VSH’s administration team ensured that by providing the necessary accommodation and facilities to the Zen Shopping stakeholders when they decided to come and work with VSH
development team in India for a considerably long period of more than six months.

Subsequent to incredible success, Zen Shopping’s stakeholders were exploring acquisition offers and during this phase, VSH resource went on site to assist the process by creating presentations and technical due diligence. The engagement continues even after the acquisition of the product; VSH team was involved to provide the walkthrough of the technology, complete documentation and successful handover of the product.

Infrastructure

Considering the various infrastructure management factors, Zen Shopping was deployed on the AWS environment. Some of the characteristics of this environment include

Auto scalability

Auto-scaling configuration to manage the server load with respect to surge in the users

Capacity Planning

Scale up and scale down the servers based on the requirement patterns to optimize the infrastructure costs

Performance Monitoring

Performance monitoring is a part of VSH’s deployment methodology. Each and every build deployment is audited for any spikes in the usage of RAM, Database or CPU

Database Auto scaling

VSH leveraged AWS Aurora for auto scaling of database as per the usage requirement without need of any manual interference

Technology Architecture

mailtag structure

Technology Stack

, Smart Shopping Assistant to transform the online shopping experience
PHP
, Smart Shopping Assistant to transform the online shopping experience
JAVASCRIPT
wordpress
SWIFT
swift
OBJECTIVE-C
sqlite
SQLITE
, Smart Shopping Assistant to transform the online shopping experience
POSTGRES
, Smart Shopping Assistant to transform the online shopping experience
HTML 5
css
CSS 3

Tools

gmail
GMAIL
googleMaps
GOOGLE MAPS API
SES
AMAZON SES
analytics
GOOGLE ANALYTICS
slack
SLACK
jira
JIRA
SMARTLOOK
FACEBOOK PIXEL
facebookPixel
SMARTLOOK

Team Composition

iOS Developer

Account Owner

Android Developer

2 Test Engineers

3 Web developers

DevOps Engineer

3 JavaScript support Engineers (For Crawler Maintenance)

Challenges

Scale and variety in data crawling needed to maintain a number of diverse crawlers and their maintenance was a challenge because of the arbitrary websites and continuously changing data sources. VSH set up an offshore development and
maintenance team to maintain the health of these crawlers and developed a system to generate crawler health reports on a regular basis.

Checkout was one of the biggest hindrance to mobile shopping ecosystem as user had to create accounts on each and every store, problem was resolved by creating an universal checkout system.

Huge user base and popularity of the application gave rise to certain displeasing legal issues like; use of stolen credit cards purchase the products and getting their delivery at public places to avoid getting caught. Noticing the issue, VSH immediately implemented fraud detection and verification system bringing the illegitimate activities to stop.

Learnings

VSH team developed the continuous deployment system from scratch which was not available with the AWS during the period. This helped the VSH team a lot in setting up sophisticated deployment processes and infrastructure management practices.

Product display was accompanied by their multiple images eventuating a need to process millions of images simultaneously, unfortunately, there was no tool available to resize and format images at such a high scale. VSH team developed an advanced image processing tool to resize and upload millions of product images in a predefined standard format and ensured optimum user experience.

Project Results

Stores
100,000

Association with more than 100,000 stores

Downloads
500,000

More than 500,000 downloads

Apple Users
50k +

Zen Shopping was featured by Apple under best new apps

  • some important media publications. BBC and TIME have recommended this application to the users:
    BBC( goo.gl/by9DBy)
    TIME (goo.gl/ib0pTf)
  • Acquisition of Zen Shopping by United States based company for an undisclosed amount

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