THE BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
The client, a computer software company that connects remote sellers with their customers is bringing innovation to network marketing and direct marketing companies by giving independent distributors a way to get closer to their customers and act faster to customer demand.
With the evolution of social media, handheld devices, consumer transparency, and mobility, the ways that consumers find, learn, decide on, and purchase products has dramatically evolved in recent years. However, the direct marketing industry has been lagging far behind in evolving with its consumers. Distributors selling products and services for direct marketing companies have been limited in how they could reach consumers, learn about their needs, and sell solutions.
The client realized that distributors and the companies that they represented in this industry needed a more flexible and responsive way to find and respond to customer demand on a global scale.
The client’s envisioned creating a mobile tool that would give the direct marketer the ability to identify buyers in their community, match them with a product or service, educate them on a solution, gain their trust, and entice a purchase when they’re ready to buy. Furthermore, they wanted this tool to also provide back end coaching and support for the distributors, and help them achieve success.
THE TECHNICAL SOLUTION
The client’s first customer was a Nutrigenomics products company that embraced its concept of bringing the sales associate closer to the customer. The client’s new app would be a multi-platform application that runs on iPhone and Android devices.
The app would interact primarily with the client’s back end, a collection of graph databases, messaging, enrollment, transaction and social monitoring tools that integrate with the Nutrigenomics products company’s operations and its services provider, Info-Trax. The client would implement the back end services in .NET, on a collection of services and social graph databases.
The app was required to integrate with the following services:
Easy use of the app was paramount and the challenge was to enable functionality with the least number of screens and user actions (taps) as possible.
THE PROJECT EXECUTION
The decision was made to develop the app on the Xamarin framework based on the requirements and how well Xamarin forms fit them. In addition, the choice would clearly be the most economical solution as compared to any other tech stack, given the app elements.
AccelOne assembled the project documents from the client and met with their team leaders to discover the scope of the engagement, which we broke down into two phases. We assembled the appropriate team for the phase 1 delivery, which consisted of:
- Scrum Master, Senior Xamarin Developer
- Senior Xamarin Mobile Developer
- Mid-level Mobile Developer
- QA Analyst
- Project Manager
The Phase 1 feature deliverables would be geared towards an MVP and would generally be described as:
Authentication, Dashboard, Notifications, Media Library, Sharing, Messaging Tools, Calendaring Tools, Contact Import tool, Prospect and Distributor Management Tool, Shopping Cart
Sharing, Enrollment, UI Customization, Help & Support. Settings, Startup Process, Menu, and Localization.
UX and UI were to be provided by a third party UX|UI agency.
The backend was to be developed by internal resources to the client.
Delivery was to be via Xamarin Forms and C# for iOS, Android, and Windows Universal Apps. The delivery was estimated to take three-and-a-half months in total, with the test and deploy phase in the third month.
The Phase 2 delivery and implementation would follow the same feature deliverables but with far greater parameters of functionality, providing a far greater and in-depth user experience with extended capabilities.
- Xamarin Forms limitations: Xamarin Forms were the selected platform. Xamarin has become mature and robust, but it is limited in terms of the number of different UI elements that it can render, or provide features for, on the different platforms which use it. To divert this limitation, AccelOne’s expert Xamarin team created a framework for MVVM support, which required platform-specific renderers in order to provide the UI defined by and required from the UX / UI team.
- Short timeframe for the number of features of the app: MVP was required after four months of development work kicked off.
- Project organization: Work was done in parallel with back end, using a Kanban agile approach, including several change orders, to improve UX during the different product iterations.
- Main processes should be fast: Many complex processes are involved in the generation of information and screens of the app, and in order to keep a good UX, a lot of optimization work was required on both the app and the back end.
- The initial launch of their MVP to a select, superior performing group of the Nutrigenomics products company’s independent distributors was met with overwhelming applause.
- The app helped distributor sales performance and improved distributor retention and revenue growth to the delight of their brand and manufacturer.
- Gig Economy Group continues to add features to the application and increase the value to its stakeholders.
- The mobile development team’s expertise plus the correct orchestration with UX, back end, and QA teams made it possible to design, develop, and test the multi-platform app in about half the time that a project of this type usually requires.