Community Based Group Buying Ecommerce App
Table of Contents
- About our Client
- About the product
- Key highlights of the app are:-
- Impact numbers
- Why did the client approach High Peak Software?
- Development timeline
- Development Journey
- Individual consumer model
- Collective/Group Buying Offer Feature
- Web Admin
- Pricing matrix
- Special offer setup
- Technologies used
- Request a call to create ecommerce app and see the HPS team into action.
Did you know that in the fragmented African ecommerce market, pricing is a major purchasing factor? But the ecommerce market of Kenya is projected to reach US$2.662 billion by 2027. Find out how High Peak turned this into an opportunity by building a community-based buying app.
Now, this case study explores High Peak’s journey in transcending geographical limits to empower communal purchasing. Let’s get started!
About our Client
Our visionary Kenyan entrepreneur brings invaluable experience in consumer goods marketing and is the guiding force behind a groundbreaking venture. With an unyielding commitment to accessibility and affordability, our client has been reshaping the retail landscape for 11 years. Their unwavering focus on making fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) more accessible and the lowest price are set to transform the shopping experience for communities, empowering individuals to enhance their livelihoods through innovative solutions. This led to their requirement the process of ecommerce app development.
About the product
High Peak’s team invested a lot of research for this trailblazing ecommerce app. It is dedicated to empowering and streamlining community group-buying experiences. With a focus on B2B and B2C users, the native Kenyan app for ecommerce offers the lowest prices possible and delivers the orders to 3 distinct distribution channels. Led by a mission to make FMCG more accessible and affordable, it leverages its innovative platform to enhance convenience and foster economic growth.
Key highlights of the app are:-
- The client understands the diverse needs of Kenyan consumers and provides clear and distinct distribution channels tailored to their requirements. This targeted approach ensures efficient access to products and services.
- The b2b ecommerce app focuses heavily on pricing research, ensuring the lowest prices in the city. Customers can confidently shop, knowing they are getting the best value for their money.
- It goes a step further in lowering prices by introducing a unique community buyer model. This innovative approach encourages collective purchasing power, enabling customers to enjoy even greater discounts and savings.
A significant achievement by the product team is the attainment of over 14,500 app installs within just 3 months of the product’s launch. This remarkable milestone demonstrates the successful adoption and acceptance of the product by a large number of users in a relatively short period of time. This achievement highlights the team’s ability to drive user engagement and attract a substantial user base, setting a strong foundation for future growth and success.
Therefore, the % increase in the new app:
- Increase no. of users:- 41.67%
- No of orders fulfilled:- 41%
Why did the client approach High Peak Software?
The client approached HPS, an ecommerce app development company, with two primary motivations. Firstly, they sought our expertise to assess the limitations of their current web application and identify areas for enhancement in terms of functionality and user experience.
They wanted us to thoroughly examine the user journey within the application and gain a deep understanding of how users interact with it.
Secondly, they desired a Native App platform and wanted us to explore the potential opportunities for enhancing the existing user journey. Thus, making it even more seamless and user-friendly. Hence, by partnering with HPS, the client aimed to leverage our knowledge and capabilities to achieve ecommerce app development services.
In December 2022, the journey of developing the b2b ecommerce app began with a comprehensive discovery phase. The team analyzed market trends, customer needs, and existing challenges to identify the app’s key objectives and functionalities.
January 2023 marked the start of the development phase. The dedicated team at HPS diligently worked on designing and coding the app, ensuring a seamless user interface, intuitive navigation, and robust features. Rigorous testing and iteration took place to guarantee a high-quality user experience.
The first release on the Play Store
After months of dedicated effort, the app finally went live on the Play Store in March 2023. Customers could now easily download and install the app on their mobile devices, gaining instant access to a user-friendly platform designed to simplify their shopping experience.
This journey showcases the swift progression from the initial discovery phase in December 2022 to the successful launch of the app on the Play Store in March 2023. The HPS team’s commitment and meticulous development process resulted in a polished app ready to serve customers with convenience and efficiency.
It all began with stakeholder interviews, where the HPS team delved deep into understanding its existing business model and the terms that governed it. This knowledge would serve as the foundation for the upcoming research. Through their diligent research efforts, the HPS team employed a comprehensive approach that encompassed desk research, market studies, and insightful user interviews with active shoppers in Kenya.
These interactions provided invaluable insights into the lives of Kenyan users, allowing the team to gain a deeper understanding of their lifestyle choices, sacrifices, benefits, and pain points. Constructing a user journey based on their findings, the HPS team was able to uncover meaningful perspectives on how users engage with the app and seamlessly integrate it into their daily routines. This thorough research endeavor enabled the team to align the app’s functionalities with the real-life experiences and needs of Kenyan users, ensuring a user-centric approach.
Insights depict the evolving shopping trends in Kenya, where balancing convenience and price is depicted. In Kenya, the shift towards online shopping gained momentum with the emergence of COVID-19. While price remains a key consideration, ease of living has become increasingly important for consumers.
Many individuals, prompted by the hazards of the pandemic, turned to online purchasing and home deliveries for their convenience. The HPS team researched extensively, delving into online material and YouTube videos and engaging directly with Shop users who offered valuable insights. Kenyan consumers, particularly those in the middle tier, exhibit moderate tech-savviness and prioritize a harmonious blend of convenience and affordability in their app preferences.
Brief market analysis
The HPS team embarked on an extensive research endeavor, delving deep into the intricacies of the Kenyan market. They meticulously conducted a comprehensive market rundown, aiming to grasp a profound understanding of the market landscape. Their quest involved exploring the purchasing habits prevalent among the Kenyan populace and discerning the factors that hold significant value for them when making buying decisions.
Insights from the market analysis revealed that Kenyan users exhibit a strong emphasis on price when making purchasing decisions. During user interviews, it became evident that a significant portion of Kenyan consumers prioritize affordability.
However, it was also discovered that there is a segment of users who value certain products based on their quality and the availability of a wide range of options, particularly through alternative purchasing channels such as supermarkets. This finding highlights a notable divide between price-centric and brand-centric preferences among Kenyan consumers. It showed that 70% of Kenyan consumers prioritize price, while 30% focus on product quality and variety.
Their research encompassed a wide spectrum of aspects, ensuring a thorough analysis of the Kenyan market and equipping them with valuable insights for future endeavors. They scrutinized the competitive landscape, identifying prominent brands that have established themselves as leaders in the market. Recognizing the similarities between their objectives, the team paid close attention to the latter, carefully studying their approach and positioning.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of its users, the HPS team conducted user interviews. They met with individuals who used this platform regularly, listening attentively to their experiences, challenges, and daily routines. By empathizing with the users and understanding their pain points, the team gained valuable perspectives for the project.
Journey mapping was an integral part of the research process. Although time constraints limited the team’s ability to map the buyer app’s journey extensively, they meticulously worked on developing a journey map for the Supplier App. This allowed them to visualize the user’s interactions and identify areas for improvement.
It played a vital role in organizing the app’s structure. Beginning with onboarding, their aim was to introduce users to new customer models and offer features, ensuring a clear understanding of their functionalities within the app. From there, they delved into the intricacies of each feature, engaging in comprehensive ideation sessions and end-to-end wireframing.
This iterative approach encompassed both the customer app and the keeper app, dedicated to community leads. By carefully mapping out a cohesive flow, we aimed to create a seamless user journey, enhancing usability and ensuring optimal engagement.
To create the information architecture for the app, they drew inspiration from existing apps, analyzing their features and structures. Using Sketch, we developed a high-level wireframe that incorporated visual elements such as icons. This approach ensured clarity and comprehension, avoiding confusion that can arise from low-level wireframing.
By utilizing PNGs of black and white icons, we crafted an intuitive and visually appealing information architecture for its seamless user experience. This step served as a crucial checkpoint for the design direction.
Embarking on an extensive technology study, the HPS team delved into the realm of native app development. Their research aimed to comprehend the prevailing technology space, encompassing device usage, screen resolutions, and operating systems.
Through meticulous desk research and online resources, we gathered valuable statistics and insights, showcasing the dominance of brands like Apple, Samsung, and local phone manufacturers in Kenya’s market.
With a strategic focus on the most prevalent resolutions, we targeted approximately 70% to 80% of the market share. Additionally, user tests provided further data on phone models and resolutions, enriching our understanding of the mobile landscape. This comprehensive study laid the foundation for informed decision-making in the native ecommerce app development journey.
Understanding the competitors
Along with many Indian and Kenyan apps, the two apps served as significant inspiration and reference points for the HPS team. These apps include popular group purchasing app in China and a South American app. While both apps provided valuable insights, the team found the Chinese app to be particularly relatable due to its relevance to the group purchasing model and the community-driven purchasing behavior prevalent in China. This connection allowed the team to draw meaningful insights from the app’s success and adapt relevant strategies to their own product development efforts.
The HPS team began the design process for the app in December using Figma. Initially, the team focused on creating the brand language by drawing insights from the customer’s website and app. Later, the customer shared their brand language, which the team fine-tuned. The HPS team deconstructed the font structure, color scheme, and component hierarchy, creating atomic and molecular components.
With the component language in place, the team found it easier to design individual screens using drag and drop. By January, the team had an initial version of the user interface (UI) ready. Regular meetings with the product team ensured ongoing collaboration and fine-tuning of features. Each feature was plotted in Jira and transformed into interactive mockups for a seamless user experience.
To bring the product to life, the team created interactive mockups. They carefully crafted user test case scenarios and developed animated mockups based on those scenarios. These interactive prototypes would allow them to gather feedback from users and fine-tune the user experience.
The HPS team embarked on an extensive user testing journey, employing various applications. They employed testing sketches, wireframes, and designs. Following the ideation phase, the team conducted initial user tests on interactive mockups with wireframes, addressing both wireframes and designs separately while coordinating with on-site teams.
Collaborating with a dedicated individual from Kenya, assigned through customer support, they scheduled weekly user testing sessions with assigned customers. These sessions took place remotely, utilizing a user testing tool and a link provided to the customers’ app. Most sessions were recorded, offering valuable insights into click states, bounce rates, user focus, lost communication, and user preferences during app operation.
The team encountered challenges during user testing. Participants struggled with context comprehension and feared making mistakes by interacting with the screen. To address this, comprehensive onboarding was implemented, assuring participants that they were working with a prototype, not the actual app. Providing crucial background information proved pivotal in achieving successful user engagement.
By breaking down scenarios and clarifying participants’ roles and the prototype’s purpose, comfort levels increased, and task understanding improved. Task sessions typically lasted seven to fifteen minutes, followed by a Q&A segment to delve deeper into user experiences, feedback, and any concerns regarding app usability.
The insights gained from user testing were truly fascinating.
Feedback from participants was documented in the notion document, providing valuable input. Through usability reports and insightful questions, the HPS team could assess if users followed the intended path or deviated from it. They identified instances where users spent excessive time on specific screens, struggling to grasp their purpose.
By analyzing misclicks, they determined whether users needed to navigate through specific components before progressing. This process allowed them to fine-tune important user experiences, prioritizing crucial aspects first.
Around 15 user testing sessions were conducted, providing initial feedback on the app and keeper apps. Users appreciated the app’s automated features, streamlined processes, and helpful onboarding sessions. These findings were discussed in product review sessions to shape the app’s future direction.
In short, the HPS team determined the user experience and other experience insights, such as user retention rates, thanks to the insights that were recorded, such as bounce rates, misclicks, and heatmaps.
High Peak faced and successfully addressed numerous technical and business challenges throughout the process of product design and development of this ecommerce app. Let’s see and understand how the HPS team dealt with these challenges.
Core design principles
One major insight derived from the HPS team’s research was the identification of several core design issues within the app’s flow. A specific example highlighted a heuristic issue involving location selection. Users were required to scroll through a lengthy list of locations, select a location, and then a sub-level location before gaining access to the app.
This cumbersome process created unnecessary overhead for customers, which could be streamlined through automation using native app functionalities. Furthermore, issues related to OTP-based entry, such as timing and manual copying from SMS, also impacted the user flow negatively. These findings emphasized the need for intuitive improvements and a smoother end-to-end user experience.
Kenyan Perspective: Insights into Mindsets and Purchasing Habits
Understanding the Kenyan people became a fascinating yet challenging journey for the HPS team. Despite the physical distance, they bridged the gap through heartfelt conversations and personal connections. Desk research provided valuable insights, but the real magic happened through emotional connections fostered by reaching out to individuals and immersing themselves in YouTube videos.
From tales of resilience, like the rise of poultry farmers from humble beginnings to the trials faced by those participating in farmers’ markets, these stories shed light on the experiences and challenges of Kenyan entrepreneurs and users. This intimate understanding of their mindset and purchasing habits illuminated the path forward for the HPS team.
Group Buying model research
One of the challenges faced by the product team was understanding and implementing the unique consumer behavior of group purchasing, as revealed by the offer module research. Unlike traditional buying methods, it requires individuals to form a group to purchase a product. However, this group purchase model had a time limit, and if enough people didn’t join within that period, the purchase couldn’t proceed.
Incorporating this model into the ecommerce app necessitated a deep understanding of the dynamics involved in group purchasing. The team delved into studying existing apps that employed similar concepts to gain valuable insights. They had to grapple with comprehending the complexities of facilitating group purchases, optimizing the user experience, and seamlessly integrating the feature within the app.
This app caters to a variety of economic models, which sets it apart from many other companies. These models include:
- Individual consumer
- Group/Collective buying
- Web Admin
Individual consumer model
The app allows users to create an account and securely log in to access personalized features and preferences.
The app offers an extensive product catalog with a wide range of categories, including groceries, fruits, vegetables, household items, personal care products, and more. Users can easily search, browse, and select products of their choice.
Each product listing provides detailed information, including descriptions, images, and prices, enabling users to make informed purchasing decisions.
Users can add selected products to their shopping cart, review the items, modify quantities, and proceed to checkout.
Secure Payment Options
- The in-app wallet takes priority for payment preferences. The wallet offers users the opportunity to earn rewards and cashback on various offers.
- Flexibility is provided for payments by allowing phone number changes and offline ordering options for non-smartphone users.
- Dedicated volunteers can also take orders on behalf of non-smartphone users, which ultimately expands the customer base of the platform.
They offer a seamless and efficient doorstep delivery service, ensuring a convenient and professional experience for their customers. With their dose of delivery, orders are brought directly to the customer’s doorstep, eliminating the need for them to visit the store or make additional arrangements. The delivery process is handled by dedicated professionals who specialize in timely and secure deliveries.
Coming directly from the warehouse, the delivery executive or concerned person ensures that the package is safely transported to the customer’s desired location. Also, if a customer orders before 7 am, they get the delivery on the same date. Or it’s always the next day.
Pickup point-based delivery model
A “Keeper” is a dedicated individual responsible for overseeing the efficient dispatch and safeguarding of goods at the designated pickup location. These dedicated volunteers have valued customers in the company who not only demonstrate loyalty but also express a desire to assist fellow customers in receiving their goods promptly. When customers select the Pickup option, they choose a nearby individual/shop from a list on their screen.
The app provides a map for easy selection. Once selected, the process involves order/product collection and assignment to the chosen Keeper. The assigned Keeper stores and sorts the products for customers to pick up at their convenience. The company pays Keepers a commission for storing and safely sorting the goods.
This method streamlines delivery by utilizing nearby Keepers, ensuring efficiency and reliability. Customers can personalize their experience by selecting a suitable Keeper. The assigned Keeper handles order/product collection. An automation system optimizes efficiency and convenience for all involved.
Order History and Tracking
Users can view their order history, track the status of current orders, and easily reorder their favorite items for added convenience.
The ecommerce app provides customer support options to assist users with any queries, concerns, or feedback.
Collective/Group Buying Offer Feature
The ecommerce app offers a unique way to purchase products. Instead of buying alone, you form a collective with at least three or four (or more) people who share an interest in the same product. By coming together as a group, you can enjoy a discounted price that would be otherwise unavailable.
For example, if the original price is $10, you can bring it down to just $6 by forming a group of five people. Thus, the entire group gets the product at $6. However, there’s a catch. The initiator(user) and the group have a limited time, usually 1 hour, to complete the purchase. Also, the initiator of this offer can reduce the minimum no of users needed to join. But the maximum number can only be configured by the admin.
Also Read: Shopify Store Development & Integration
This time limit creates a sense of urgency, giving the impression that the product may run out of stock or expire soon. Also, the product gets launched only after the last person has joined. Thus, there’s a specified delivery time period of 48 hours. Again, if the same user wants to create another offer, s/he needs to wait for 48 hours to create a new one.
If no one or fewer members of users join the offer, we cancel it and transfer the refund to the user/users’ wallet. But to motivate users to create more offers, the company credits their wallet with a pre-decided amount as Creator rewards.
The idea behind the offer is to bring people together, leverage their collective buying power, and make products more affordable for everyone involved. It’s a fun and exciting way to shop while saving money. So it requires users to gather friends and neighbors or find like-minded individuals to enjoy the benefits of group purchasing with the offer. Adding to the above details, the offer feature follows the same order flow as the individual consumers.
The wholesale model in the ecommerce app shares a delivery flow similar to the individual model, but it sets itself apart by implementing unique rules established by the administrators. These rules serve as a differentiating factor from other apps. Users must comply with these guidelines, including selecting at least two different products to qualify for the wholesale option.
The wholesale configuration allows the Admin to set the minimum and maximum quantity, with a default minimum of 1. However, it is important to note that other rules cannot be customized or modified. These regulations ensure a distinct user experience and promote variety in product selection.
The Admin dashboard the ecommerce app displays the production data in a comprehensive manner. It encompasses a wide range of elements spanning multiple categories, including numerous SKUs, brands, and variations. The variations present their corresponding SKU types, clearly indicating the status of each variation. This provides a detailed representation of how a product is structured. Each product entry is accompanied by an image, product name, description, and information regarding its placement and category classification.
In the Admin dashboard, the user, assumed to be an administrator, possesses the authority to upload, modify, and adapt data in accordance with specific requirements and market demands. Each section within the dashboard is editable, allowing for dynamic adjustments based on product availability. Notably, the admin has the capability to modify the SKU categories, thereby enabling the efficient organization of products.
Allocating to the wholesale category
Additionally, the dashboard facilitates the categorization of products as either regular or wholesale, providing the admin with the flexibility to determine the appropriate classification. While all uploaded products are automatically included in the individual consumer section, this feature grants the admin control over special offers, which can be modified periodically in response to stock availability. Basically, the category “Promo” encompasses products that have special offers or promotions associated with them.
The Orders section is primarily managed by the Operations team. They export the order details as a CSV file and upload it to a third-party app. Delivery executives utilize this app to efficiently track and process the status of orders, ensuring a streamlined workflow and prompt resolution of pending tasks.
The HPS team built this section which is a highly distinctive research system that ensures the provision of optimal prices, setting it apart from its competitors. This section in the ecommerce app encompasses an elaborate pricing matrix, which delves into pricing intricacies across four distinct levels. By employing this approach, the platform diligently guarantees that its valued customers benefit from the most competitive prices in the market. These are:-
This segment refers to small shops, commonly found in local neighborhoods, that operate without engaging in bargaining or negotiation practices. These shops are often situated near establishments or within the vicinity of residential areas. Unlike traditional retail outlets, these shops adopt a setup similar to a warehouse, where goods are stored and displayed under a single roof. Due to this distinctive characteristic, they are commonly referred to as “Ducas” in the context of the local community.
This section is for vegetables and fruits that thrive on a unique business model. Vendors and customers engage in active negotiation and haggling to determine the prices of produce. This dynamic marketplace creates a competitive environment where both parties strive to strike a mutually beneficial deal, resulting in cost-effective purchases. However, these vendors always establish a base price, below which they refuse to charge. In light of this, the platform’s operation team goes to great lengths to meticulously determine the prevailing market rates for each variety of vegetables and fruits. This diligent effort enables them to provide accurate and competitive pricing within this section.
Supermarkets cater to diverse consumer needs, providing convenience, variety, and competitive pricing. It critically assesses and analyzes this business model to stay abreast of prevailing market practices. By closely monitoring its competitors, the company ensures that it consistently offers the most competitive prices, surpassing even the lowest prices offered by other supermarkets. This proactive approach enables it to provide its customers with the best possible deals.
It diligently monitors and evaluates its competitors, maintaining a meticulous record of pricing trends. By analyzing this data, the client strategically positions itself to offer customers lower prices. This proactive approach ensures that the app consistently provides its valued customers with cost-effective options, setting itself apart in the market.
This matrix serves as a valuable tool in adjusting prices based on customer demand and preferences. By closely analyzing user feedback, it can identify opportunities to lower prices or offer promotions, ensuring a customer-centric approach that aligns with market demands and enhances affordability.
The ecommerce app incorporates a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) feature that encompasses customer data such as names, addresses, and registered numbers. The system includes roles like admin, customer, and keeper. Within each user entry, transaction details, top-up amounts, order history, wallet refunds, current wallet balance, and order amounts are accessible, providing comprehensive insights for effective customer management. It has multiple filter options, as shown in the image above, making it very easy for the admin/user to search for the item.
Special offer setup
- The special offer setup and configuration provide an intuitive interface for administrators and users to effortlessly modify settings. Administrators can easily define the offer price, allowing for seamless adjustment of the group purchase cost.
- The system automatically populates the specified price, simplifying the process for administrators. Also, the admin can configure the delivery and expiry time for any particular offer that has to be launched.
- Additionally, savings and available quantities can be easily modified to reflect the desired settings during the initial setup. The allocated stock is conveniently displayed, enabling administrators to update and present accurate information to users.
- The user setting section enables the admin to configure the minimum and maximum number of users needed to complete the offer. The user-friendly ecommerce app empowers administrators to make swift modifications, ensuring the offer experience remains customizable and adaptable to changing requirements.
- To facilitate a comprehensive grasp of the statistical information, the operations team is encouraged to avail themselves of the Export option, which allows for the downloading of the CSV file. This will enable them to obtain a detailed insight into the data.
The offer setup and configuration provide an intuitive interface for administrators and users to effortlessly modify settings. Administrators can easily define the offer price, allowing for seamless adjustment of the group purchase cost. The system automatically populates the specified price, simplifying the process for administrators. Additionally, savings and available quantities can be easily modified to reflect the desired settings during the initial setup.
The allocated stock is conveniently displayed, enabling administrators to update and present accurate information to users. The user-friendly ecommerce app empowers administrators to make swift modifications, ensuring the offer experience remains customizable and adaptable to changing requirements.
- Mobile – Flutter
- Web app – React
- Backend – NodeJS-Express, PostgreSQL
Supplier connectivity program
One ongoing project in the pipeline is the development of a supplier portal designed to establish a seamless connection between suppliers and the platform. This portal allows suppliers to access and update their respective pricing structures, aligning with the platform’s C2 (Cost-to-Manufacturers) model.
It incorporates these supplier-provided prices, while its own percentage is the only additional component. This consolidated pricing information flows through a unified channel from the supplier to the admin app and ultimately reaches the app. This scalable approach fosters partnerships with suppliers, streamlines price information, and represents an ongoing effort to enhance the overall system.
Open search feature within the app
An upcoming feature in the project pipeline is the implementation of an Open Search capability within the app. This feature enables both customers and keepers to easily search for specific information. Customers can conveniently search for products by name, while keepers can search using customer ID, name, or phone number. This streamlined search functionality allows keepers to quickly locate and access customer orders, eliminating the need to manually sift through the entire order list.