Online Auction Portal Development with Real-Time Monitoring Capabilities

  • Real-time data synchronization between the server and auction participants
  • Simultaneous bidding on over thousand items on one screen
  • Flexible auction setup capabilities with customized price calculation formulas
Expertise
Business Intelligence
Social Networking
Verticals
Consulting

Our Customer, a leading provider of technology-enabled business processing, technology and procurement services, turned to Iflexion with a request to develop an innovative online matrix auction application with real-time monitoring capabilities.

Calendar
3
Duration
Years
Gears
19
Efforts
Person-years

Context

With consumption of things increasing exponentially and procurement being shifted online, our Customer, a leading provider of technology-enabled business processing, technology and procurement services, decided to create a web application intended for hosting online tenders/auctions for multiple groups of goods with real-time monitoring capabilities. Given the technical complexity of the task, the Customer required a skillful auction portal development partner. Having previously cooperated with Iflexion on behalf of its employer, the Customer turned to us with a startup idea, the successful technical implementation of which led to its turning into a multimillion business.

Solution

The delivered application represents a web portal intended for hosting online tenders/auctions in a specific matrix form when several groups of goods are traded in multiple regions simultaneously. The app automates a range of business tasks enabling users to:

  • Host matrix-specific auctions with access to real-time data encompassing up to several thousand indicators
  • Access real-time bid data which is synchronized amongst the bidders and the auction’s host
  • Input custom formulas which govern the calculation of the total price of a lot (with the simplest scenario being the sum of the price and shipping costs)
  • Determine a winner based on a range of indicators (e.g., based on minimum price, minimum total costs or give preference to a current vendor given that the 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 functionality:

  • 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 general information for auction participants)
    • Selecting participants
    • Drafting invitation letters for participants and its further dissemination 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 bidding history
    • Displaying price change charts

The platform envisages the following user roles:

  • Host. The Host determines auction rules and settings and sets of goods as well as invites participants. The Host monitors all the current bids during the auction and selects the winner(-s) of the auction guided by the hints provided by the system
  • Co-Host. Co-Host helps the auction host, communicates with all the participants via an online chat but has limited access to auction setting setup
  • Bidder. Bidders participate in auctions and place their bids
  • Observer. Observers monitor auctions, communicate with other users via the chat but don’t have access to auction setting setup and bidding

Administrator. Administrators have full access to the whole system

Development Process

Our team was tasked with the development of the core of the application governing the processing of matrix data, real-time synchronization and bidding. Iflexion was involved in this auction portal development project throughout the whole SDLC, including requirements analysis, design, development, integration, testing as well as maintenance and support stages.

Being ardent protagonists of agile delivery, both Iflexion and the Customer were interested in ensuring rapid, incremental, and efficient application development approach. Our dedicated team utilized all traditional agile practices during the project including time-boxed iterations, stand-ups, demonstrations and backlogs.

Iflexion team was also tasked with QA and testing of the delivered solution. The team performed manual functional testing at each SDLC stage and implemented automated testing with Selenium. Altogether, all defects were identified and fixed which, in turn, provided for spotless performance and high reliability of the system for end-users.

Technologies

The auction portal development was based on​ Ruby on Rails with nginx as the web server/load balancer and passenger as the application server. That allowed maximum flexibility and scalability as well as smooth and fast delivery of both static resources and dynamic content to the users. Elastic search enables full text search capabilities.

The database layer is built on MySQL with redis and memcached to speed up the database-driven application.

The presentation layer is developed using HTML/CSS and JavaScript (jQuery). Real-time data synchronization between clients and the server is achieved with Faye.

The application is integrated with a range of external systems:

  • A custom system developed by a third-party vendor which handles user logging, user data storage, access rules management and a landing page which aggregates and displays information from various subsystems
  • A system which provides data for the lookups in the auction creation wizard
  • Database of potential vendors which replied to the host’s request for information
  • The database enables hosts to send participation invitation to the aforementioned vendors when creating an auction
  • Database of vendor responses to host questionnaires, containing vendor replies which are utilized by hosts when determining the winner
  • SnapEngage and Freshdesk for Customer support

Results

Since the application go-live the number of auctions rose up to 35/week, whereas more than 12,500 unique user participated in the auctions. The system is being proactively used by companies in 10 countries (UK, USA, Mexico, Brazil, China, Russia, Japan, France, Germany and Spain) and is anticipated to be released in Italy in the near future. Cooperation with the Customer is still in progress as additional functionality is being developed.

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