Auction Portal Development with Real-Time Data Monitoring Capabilities
- Real-time data synchronization for auction hosts and bidders
- Simultaneous bidding on thousands of items on a single screen
- Flexible auction settings with custom price calculation formulas
Iflexion helped a US startup become a multimillion-dollar acquisition thanks to the online B2B auction portal developed in cooperation with our team.
Our customer, a US startup now acquired by a leading provider of information technologies and consulting services, was looking to create a web application for hosting B2B tenders and auctions online to simplify enterprise-level procurement. The key value propositions of the solution would be its real-time monitoring capabilities as well as the opportunity to trade multiple groups of products simultaneously across different regions.
While they had the product vision, the customer was looking for professional software engineers with a proven expertise in web portal development to bring the auction portal to the market. Based on their experience of cooperating with Iflexion in the past, they chose us as their strategic partner for this project.
To meet the customer’s requirements of enabling real-time bidding, negotiations and data synchronization across auction participants, Iflexion’s team went for the matrix-based auction model. When implemented, the online auction portal was able to process thousands of indicators that were trackable in real time.
The web portal automates the full cycle of B2B auctioning, with the opportunity to simultaneously trade multiple groups of products in different locations and negotiate with bidders without leaving the platform. It supports a variety of auction types, including Simple Matrix, Advanced Matrix, English Reverse, and Japanese auctions.
Before getting down to the auction portal development, our team structured all the functions by user roles and implemented them accordingly:
- Hosts, who are typically procurement managers, determine auction rules and settings, specify products for trading, and invite participants. Hosts can also monitor all incoming bids and bidders’ details in the Negotiation Dashboard, and select the winner(s) with the help of special pop-up hints.
- Co-hosts help Hosts to communicate with auction participants via online chats, yet they have limited access to the auction settings.
- Bidders, who are typically product or service vendors, participate in auctions by placing their bids in the special Bid Point area of the portal.
- Observers monitor auctions, communicate with other users via online chats yet don’t have access to the auction settings and can’t place their bids.
- Administrators manage the portal on the customer’s side and have full access to the system settings.
The portal features dedicated profile management modules, where the portal users can enter and update information about their companies as well as add their branded visuals such as logos and banners.
We built a range of features into the portal, allowing hosts to set up auctions and invite participants to place bids. This includes:
- Setting up general parameters: title, category, format, type (open or by invitation only), currency, publication time, start/end time.
- Designing auction matrices: specifying the products, categories and groups; inputting custom total price calculation formulas; opening bids for each product in each group.
- Uploading files with relevant information for auction participants.
- Selecting auction participants.
- Drafting and sending invitation letters to participants via email with read receipts enabled.
- Monitoring invitation acceptance rates.
End-to-end auction management
In addition to the auction setup features, we also introduced full-cycle auction management workflows for hosts and bidders. This includes:
- Accepting bids and refreshing the matrix in real time.
- Displaying the details of selected lots.
- Communicating with hosts and auction participants via online chats.
- Reviewing the bidding history.
- Looking up real-time price changes visualized as charts.
- Determining the auction winner according to a range of indicators (e.g., vendors offering the lowest price, choosing the current vendor over a new one, etc.).
Iflexion’s team was involved in the auction portal development throughout the entire project lifecycle, including requirements analysis, design, development, integration, testing, maintenance, and support.
Advocates of the Agile methodology, both Iflexion and the customer were interested in ensuring rapid, incremental and transparent deliverables. Our team utilized Scrum software development practices, which included time-boxed iterations, daily meetings, and backlog tracking. For all the processes on the project, our team also configured the CI/CD workflows.
Manual and automated testing
Iflexion’s team also provided quality assurance (QA) and testing of the delivered solution. At each iteration, we carried out manual functional tests as well as implemented automated testing with Selenium. This helped us ensure the flawless performance and high reliability of the system for end users.
For this auction portal development, Iflexion used Ruby on Rails, Nginx as the web server/load balancer, and Passenger as the application server. This allowed our developers to maximize the flexibility and scalability of the system as well as ensure fast-paced delivery of static resources and dynamic content to end users.
We developed the presentation layer using HTML, CSS, and jQuery, and enabled real-time data synchronization of the client-side application and the server with the help of Faye. Elasticsearch provided for advanced full-text search capabilities. The database layer was built on MySQL with Redis and MemCached to speed up the database-driven application.
The application was also integrated with a range of external systems:
- A custom module, specially developed for this project, that handles user authentication, user data storage, and access rules management, as well as hosts the user home page aggregating and displaying information from various connected subsystems.
- A data reference module for populating auction fields with specific values.
- The RFI database recording potential vendors who respond to the Hosts’ requests for information.
- The RFP database storing the vendors’ responses to the Hosts’ requests for proposals and containing information to be considered at the winner-picking stage.
- SnapEngage and Freshdesk for customer support.
Being but a startup at the beginning of the project, our customer moved on to make a multimillion-dollar business thanks to the groundbreaking digital platform developed in cooperation with Iflexion. A few years into the release, the company was acquired by a leading UK-based consulting corporation, which made the auction portal the centerpiece of its offering in procurement. The system is now used by companies in 35 countries, including the UK, USA, Japan, France, Germany, China, Russia, and Spain.
The project developed into one of the longest and most sustainable partnerships for Iflexion. Satisfied with the collaboration, the customer kept awarding us more work in recognition of our dedication. Now, our team stays on the project to provide ongoing maintenance and improvement through DevOps services.
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