Helping retail go digital with mPocket
mPocket is an interaction platform that allows local brick and mortar businesses to connect, interact and engage with today's customers digitally. They recognised it's no longer efficient for retailers to wait around for the next customer to visit as competition is simply too big and diverse, especially following the pandemic where customers and here’s been a complete shift in customers and their shopping behaviors.
mPocket was on a mission to bring in the features of top tier CRM systems to brick and mortar businesses at a fraction of the cost and effort. This mission led to the birth of their app which is designed for use by anyone who is able to operate a smartphone.
|Areas of operation||Munich, Bayern|
|Product portfolio||Wholesale and dealer ordering solutions|
mPocket is an interaction platform that allows local brick and mortar businesses to connect, interact and engage with today’s customers digitally. They recognised it’s no longer efficient for retailers to wait around for the next customer to visit as competition is simply too big and diverse, especially following the pandemic where there’s been a complete shift in customers and their shopping behaviors."
This mission led to the birth of their app, which is designed for use by anyone who is able to operate a smartphone.
From inception, mPocket wanted to strengthen and prepare local businesses for the future. They observed that real world customer service was becoming more and more complex and time consuming for local retailers. Particularly with advancing digitisation, retailers no longer meet their customers in their shops. Instead, they connect with customers through various online channels because that’s where most customers start their shopping journey. They saw the need for retailers to be more digitally engaged to drive customers back into stores without any additional effort. After all, despite e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retail remains the largest employer in the world.
They realised that local retailers of all sizes needed the right support. Namely, solutions which save time, are easy to handle, help collect more customer data to understand their needs and simplify the retailer’s workday. The online convenience, which customers were acquainted with during COVID-19, also needed to be available in brick-and-mortar retail.
mPocket wanted to empower local retail with a tool that supports sales associates with their daily activities and doesn’t distract or complicate it. A tool that merges all necessary data and brings a decisive advantage. This is where the mPocket mobile app came in.
While the client had already built a version of the product, they required a complete overhaul along with the addition of significant new features. Villvay built the new mPocket mobile app on microservices architecture using React Native and Java Spring Boot, and hosted it on AWS Cloud. Some of the key challenges faced, and solutions provided by Villvay during its development are as follows:
mPocket needed an MVP within 4 months, along with a thorough product roadmap, to demo to potential clients and investors and ensure that the company meets its funding goals.
The Business Analysis team worked with the client team to translate their business requirements into a working technical product. We collaboratively created a product backlog with all the necessary product features and defined the features that would go into the MVP and post MVP milestones. A dedicated agile team helped iteratively build working product features 4 weeks from initiation.
As a start-up, mPocket needed to be mindful with their cost structure. They needed to build a working product that can be easily scalable on demand without incurring additional costs for unused resources.
Cloud infrastructure was set up to support the microservices architecture with a minimal running cost. Cloud services were optimised to meet changing business priorities and market conditions.
As the users of mPocket were traditional brick and mortar business owners and employees, they needed to have the simplest user workflows for each user so that they would not be burdened by the need to use technology in the middle of their day-to-day operations.
A modern and simple UI was developed using extensive secondary research into user behaviour and discussions with business stakeholders to understand user workflows.
Each business using mPocket had multiple users within the app. A solution was needed to define separate access levels and functionality for each user by a business admin or super admin.
After in-depth research into the most popular Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions evaluating their capabilities and costs, a popular open-source IAM was decided upon by the team and customised to fit the specific business needs of mPocket and its users. This customised IAM was able to define specific access and feature levels for pre-registered users.
Integrations with third party platforms such as Facebook, Google My Business and Tripadvisor were essentials that needed to be a part of the MVP. They facilitated the integrated communication functionality such as the dashboard and messaging features.
With each platform having their individual integration criteria, the team conducted extensive research into the best options to connect mPocket with each platform to support two-way messaging, reviews, synchronisation of user information etc. Custom platform apps and API configurations were done based on this research to support functionality.
Being an interaction aggregator, having the right communication mechanisms to reach customers was critical for mPocket. The product had several functionalities such as subscription reminders, birthday reminders, review requests etc. that needed to be communicated to retail customers through each business preferred communication method.
AWS services were leveraged to support automated and manually triggered messaging through e-mail and SMS to customers via the mPocket app.