Online Auction Portal with Real-Time Monitoring Capabilities
- Real-time data synchronization across multiple auction clients
- Simultaneous bidding on over a thousand of items in one screen
- Flexible auction setup capabilities with custom price calculation formulas
One of the leading providers of insurance software, business process outsourcing, and procurement management solutions turned to Iflexion to develop a custom auction website with real-time monitoring capabilities.
Our Customer, a leading provider of technology-enabled business processing, technology and procurement services, decided to create a web application to host online bids and auctions for multiple groups of goods with monitoring capabilities. Taking into consideration the technical complexity of the task, the Customer was looking for a partner skillful at web portal development. Having previously cooperated with Iflexion, the Customer turned to us to design and implement an auction portal.
The delivered application represents a web portal hosting online bids and auctions in a specific matrix form, thus enabling providers to trade several groups of goods in multiple regions simultaneously. The app automates a range of business tasks allowing users to:
- Host matrix-specific auctions with access to real-time data encompassing up to several thousands of indicators.
- Access bid data, which is synchronized within the central auction host.
- Input custom formulas to calculate the total price of a lot (for example, the simplest scenario is the sum of a lot’s price and its shipping costs).
- Determine a winner depending on a range of indicators (e.g., choose a new vendor that offered the minimum price and minimum total costs or give preference to a current vendor as a change of vendor entails additional costs).
- Host auctions of different types, including Simple Matrix, Advanced Matrix, English Reverse, and Japanese auctions.
The delivered portal comprises the following capabilities:
- Auction setup
- Setting up general auction parameters (title, category, format, type (open/by invitation only), currency, publication time, start/end time).
- Designing matrices (setting up a range of goods, categories and groups, total price calculation formula; opening bids for each good in each group).
- Uploading files (uploading information for auction participants).
- Selecting participants.
- Drafting invitation letters for participants and distributing them via email (with read receipts tracking).
- Monitoring invitation acceptance.
- Auction progress
- Accepting bids and refreshing the matrix in real time.
- Displaying detailed information on selected lots.
- Allowing user participants and hosts to communicate via an online chat.
- Reviewing the bidding history.
- Displaying price change charts.
The platform supports the following user roles:
- Host. Hosts determine auction rules and settings, goods for trading, as well as invites participants. A Host monitors all the current bids during an auction and selects the winner(-s) of the auction guided by the hints in the system.
- Co-Host. Co-Hosts help Hosts, communicating with all the participants via online chat. A Co-Host has limited access to auction settings.
- Bidder. Bidders participate in auctions and place their bids.
- Observer. Observers monitor auctions, communicate with other users via the built-in chat but don’t have access to auction settings and can’t bid.
- Administrator. Administrators have full access to the whole system.
The application comprises a set of modules to ensure fully functional online auctions:
- Dashboard containing reports and statistics based on the system data and external market data and enabling users to chat with system support specialists.
- User profile, where users can change their title, name, contacts, etc.
- Company profile, where companies can customize the system look and feel and set their profiles for a particular auction.
- User access management module, which allows administrators to grant various privileges to users.
- Auction list that specifies all the auctions a user participates in either as a Host or as a Bidder.
- Auction creation wizard.
- Negotiation dashboard, a page visible to auction hosts, which displays bid information during and after the auction.
- Bid Point, the main page for auction participants where they can place their bids.
The Customer turned to Iflexion’s team to develop the application core that governs the processing of matrix data, real-time data synchronization, and bidding. Iflexion was involved in this auction portal development throughout the whole project life cycle, including requirements analysis, design, development, integration, testing, and maintenance and support.
Advocates of the Agile methodology, both Iflexion and the Customer were interested in ensuring rapid, incremental, and efficient application development approach. Our dedicated team utilized agile software development practices during the project including time-boxed iterations, stand-ups, demonstrations, and backlogs.
Iflexion’s team also fulfilled QA and testing of the delivered solution. The team performed manual functional testing at each development stage and implemented automated testing with Selenium. Altogether, all major and critical defects were identified and fixed, which ensured flawless performance and high reliability of the system for end-users.
During the auction portal development, Iflexion used Ruby on Rails, Nginx as the web server/load balancer, and Passenger as the application server. This allowed the developers to achieve the maximum flexibility and scalability of the system as well as smooth and fast delivery of both static resources and dynamic content to end users. Elasticsearch enables full-text search capabilities.
The database layer is built on MySQL with Redis and Memcached to speed up the database-driven application.
The application is integrated with a range of external systems:
- A custom third-party system which handles user logging, user data storage, access rules management, and a landing page aggregating and displaying information from various subsystems.
- A system providing data for the lookups in the auction creation wizard.
- Database of potential vendors which replies to the host’s request for information
- The database that enables hosts to send participation invitation to vendors while creating an auction.
- Database of vendor responses to host questionnaires, containing vendor replies which are utilized by hosts to determine the winner.
- SnapEngage and Freshdesk for customer support.
Since the application went live, the number of auctions rose up to 35 per week, whereas more than 12,000 unique user participated in the auctions. The system is used by companies in 10 countries, including UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil, China, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, and Spain. The Customer plans to release the solution in Italy in the near future. Cooperation with the Customer is still in progress, as Iflexion develops additional functionality for the custom auction website.
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