E-commerce Logistics Application

Ecommerce Logistics

Table of Contents

E-commerce logistics providers simplifies and automates construction delivery and logistics, saving $10000 and 200 hours per construction worker

About the client

Based in the U.S., our client is an app-based, web-interface platform that connects the driver network to the construction & building material supply chain. For construction material suppliers, they act as an on-demand last mile delivery interface delivering materials to customer job sites or other internal dealers. For builders and contractors, they are an on-demand construction & building material runner. They solve the frustrations builders and suppliers face when they need to get materials from one location to the next. Their main requirement was an optimized ecommerce logistics application.

Impact numbers

The client partnered with High Peak Software to  digitize and automate the construction material e-commerce ecosystem so that it could carry out a full-cycle shopping and material delivery process in the most efficient way possible. 

Construction companies and vendors in the U.S. are leveraging our client’s e-commerce platform to relieve themselves from the hassles of physical store-to-store shopping and arranging shipment and delivery. As a result of this:

  • The construction companies have a higher scope for productivity by saving 200 hours of productive hours per job site
  • Mitigating expenditure by saving at least $10000 
  • Hours and $$$ saved by the vendors 

Why did our client first approach HighPeak to take over the redesigning and development of their construction e-commerce and delivery platform?

Construction services in the U.S. are often costly, and construction workers spend a lot of time and money transporting and delivering construction materials. A client survey predicts that construction workers spend upwards of 200 hours gathering construction materials, leading to an annual loss of $10000 per individual.

The client’s business revolves around resolving the frustrations related to material shopping for construction companies, which is often a time-consuming, costly, and hectic process.

They conceptualized a solution that could deliver these materials onsite and initially approached a development partner that built:

  • The customer facing application through which the the customers could place pick-up and delivery orders
  • The admin application run by a Customer Success Manager (CSM) who would process and accept the orders, coordinate with the vendor, assign a driver via telephone based on their distance from the store location and then manually notify the construction company about the status of order. 

They partnered with High Peak to arrive at an intelligent solution to accustom the ecommerce logistics ecosystem so that it can not only scale their business but also further alleviate the pain areas of vendors and construction folks by:

  • Integrating a shopping interface that allows construction users to virtually shop for construction materials directly from the vendors 
  • Enabling the vendors to adopt the application as their construction ecommerce logistics solution. 
  • Developing a driver- facing application that can digitally coordinate with the drivers 
  • Implementing a robust search feature borrowed from the vendor’s e-commerce system to establish familiarity with the users’ search patterns 
  • Building an algorithm that can identify the best driver for a given order request based on the distance from the store, determine the best transportation based on the bulk and volume of the order and also determine the shortest route to take in order to stick to the delivery schedule. 

Product team at High Peak faced and resolved a range of technical and business challenges

Automating end-to-end e-commerce workflows with seamless integration between multiple apps

The High Peak team architectured an automated platform that integrated multiple applications catering to the vendors, construction workers and the delivery partners. 

This ecommerce logistics platform included an admin console, a driver-facing application, a vendor-facing front (for vendors that use our client’s product as their delivery partner) and a web-application for construction workers to place construction material orders. 

Our client employed a manual workflow with a CSM at the center who was incharge of: 

  • Checking the availability of ordered construction materials at the nearby  home depots and validating  said orders based on availability
  • Planning a delivery flow in case the materials are not available in a store
  • The availability of drivers and suitable transportation according to the volume of order 
  • Assigning an additional helper if requested by the construction workers while placing the order 
  • Tracking the order and notifying the shopper about the status of delivery 

This was a continuous, rigorous and error-prone process that posed obstacles in the way of smooth delivery management and eventually the scaling of the our client’s business. 

Dynamic multi-keyword search algorithm that vastly improves user search experience

The initial model of the client’s ecommerce logistics platform only allowed browsing for products without a search feature. 

The products were segregated based on their department, category and subcategory and required the users to correctly navigate through them to finally arrive at the product. This process was cumbersome and lengthy, delaying the purchasing process.

While the virtual shopping solution mitigated the frustrations of store-to-store shopping that construction workers were used to, it also took away the ease and clarity within the shopping experience due to the complexity in navigation process. 

This was a major disadvantage for three big reasons: 

  • Construction workers often place big-purchase orders consisting of a huge number of products in a single go, making the process extremely time consuming. 
  • The construction shoppers look for intricate details like size, color and the raw materials used to manufacture the finished goods like the wood, steel, etc. This meant that the shoppers browsed through a list of similar products differentiated by minute details adding a lot of cognitive load onto the user. 
  • Construction material shopping is a collaborative process that involves construction workers within multiple roles to review, edit, cart and uncart the order and this frequent back and forth was all the more inconvenient when the products were difficult to find. 

Further, the users were already well acquainted with the search interface of popular construction e-tailers and wanted a similar experience that would shorten the browsing and purchasing workflow.

Therefore, the High Peak team had to implement a search mechanism that emulated the functioning and keyword usage found in the websites of popular construction material procurers. 

Effective team collaboration with role-based access

As mentioned earlier, construction material shopping is a collaborative activity that involves multiple people in various roles.

Initially, the client’s ecommerce logistics platform had no room for collaborative shopping, restricting the workers to carry out purchase discussions either off-platform or through external communication platforms. 

Contractors and full-time construction workers typically work as a team with peers, supervisors, and clients. Their requirements would vary with the type of construction work that they undertake. This means that they are constantly looking for supplies and need either a supervisor or a client to sign them off and pay for them as well.

This also means that the workers were manually duplicating/ generating the purchase orders and sending it across to the experts for feedback and then to the superiors and stakeholders for approval, who would send it back with amends, additions and recommendations.

To automate and digitize this manual workflow and to enable easy communication between collaborators under a single roof, High Peak had to engineer the application in a way that enables role-based access to the purchase process. 

Establishing uninterrupted interconnectivity across logistics and supply networks for timely order fulfillment

Coordinating between the retailer stores and delivery partners was largely on the CSMs. 

Even with systematic operations in place that kept the system running, the process was incompetent in establishing a steady and reliable network of communication between the stakeholders involved.

This was due to the manual workflow that required the CSM to manage each stage of the delivery process including order verification, delivery assignment and consistent monitoring of the flow and resolving any hurdles in the process. 

This not only made the delivery flow error-prone and difficult to manage, but restricted the client’s e-commerce platform from attaining optimum productivity as human limitations interrupted the process. There’s only so much as CSM can handle on their own.   

High Peak developed an algorithm that allowed the CSMs to handover the monotonous tasks (that does not require contextual understanding) like accepting the orders, updating the etailers about the order details, locating the closest delivery partner and most importantly navigating the driver through the ‘shortest’ distance for timely delivery of orders. 

Creating a virtual shopping platform that allows construction workers to list, cart, and order construction materials virtually with a simple user flow

Order management and processing system that connects to major construction etailer products

The customer facing application, or the shopping platform is engineered to avail a smooth and efficient shopping experience. 

The ecommerce logistics application enables the users to instantly and easily discover the products with the global search feature embedded/ backed with a multi-keyword algorithm that provides accurate results every time. 

The application avails all the conventional e-commerce facilities, allowing users to select/ add items, cart them and place orders, along with some industry specific solutions like enabling the users to choose the suitable transportation and call for an extra puller if they presumably need help in unloading the materials. 

For e.g. In case of heavy-volume order, the shoppers might want to select a bigger truck and a helper to unload.

The app also facilitates push notifications and allows users to edit orders and upload invoices.

High Peak integrated the app with a robust payment gateway to process payments and transactions securely.

After a customer places an order, the order processing system finds the nearest stores where the ordered products are available. Once the purchase is through and the store is determined, the system then locates the nearest driver/ runner and the opted vehicle and sets the delivery process in motion. 

Real-time delivery tracking and invoice processing system

The ecommerce logistics application consists of various verification checkpoints. For instance, the driver can capture images of ordered products and send them to a Customer Satisfaction Manager (CSM) for verification. The driver can also attach an invoice for the purchases made and send it via email.

Additionally, drivers can raise issues through the driver-facing app that will alert the CSM, who can quickly patch with the end customer to resolve the issue.

High Peak implemented real-time delivery tracking on the customer app that allows customers to track their delivery after having placed an order.

Once the customer places an order on the customer app, the details of the order and delivery status are shared with the customer via SMS, emails, and in-app notifications.

As soon as the order is complete, the invoice is sent to the customer and also stored in the company’s account on the platform for the later reference of the customer and team. 

Intelligent search mechanism that enables users to circumvent complex product titles

One of the major back-foots that the platform suffered initially was the lack of a search feature, restricting the users to a tedious browning process to find the desired products. 

However, this was resolved with an intelligent search solution that adapts to the customer’s search patterns and behavior, with a dynamic and multi-keyword solution. 

The ecommerce logistics application was also engineered to replicate the vendor partner’s search features and interface design, making the platform significantly more learnable and familiar. 

This solved some major hurdles in the way of product navigation as the shoppers were so acquainted with their unique vocabulary and product description that it was extremely challenging to track a search behavior pattern among the customers. 

By optimizing the search mechanism, an average shopper could save a lot of time while finding and carting the products.

Simplifying shortest-route driver–truck assignment and order delivery system

After a customer places an order, the driver assignment system allocates the order to a driver, who is then notified of the orders on the driver-facing app. The assignment of a particular driver is done after considering various parameters other than just the location of the driver, including vehicle availability, bulk size and volume of the order, etc. 

One of the most intelligent features of the algorithm that backs the driver’s application is its ability to navigate the driver through the shortest-route after processing details like:

  • Distance between driver’s location and store location.
  • The distance between the store location and delivery location 
  • How fast the driver can deliver
  • The automobile availability 
  • The shortest route for drivers based on the availability of materials and the delivery flow

Enabling collaborative shopping and inventory management with an additional ‘company page’

High Peak added a ‘company page’ on the shopping platform to avail a collaborative shopping experience and eliminate the need for any off-platform communication among the construction team, stakeholders and contractors. 

Construction workers from various departments can simultaneously list their products with complete transparency to the purchase list with everyone included in the company’s account on the client’s shopping platform. 

To maintain proper decorum throughout the process, the members get role-based access to the shopping process, with the admins having the authority and the other members having access to limited operations.

The company page also stores separate order details for collective purchases (all orders) as well as individual purchases by a member that represents the company (my orders). 

Configurable admin console to securely manage orders, users, and other sensitive data

High Peak designed and developed an automated order management system that enables the CSMs to process orders, assign stores, assign trucks to drivers, and manage orders.

Additionally, if there is any discrepancy in the order, or issues such as non availability of an item, the CSM can communicate with the customers and resolve their issues.

The admin console enables CSMs to control the entire workflow and override automation of certain features.

This includes user actions such as changing the store location, checking for quantity of products, allocating/changing drivers according to the shortest route possible, deciding trucks size in proportion to the order, and checking for availability of products.

The portal also facilitates real-time tracking of trucks and drivers, direct communication with end customers, and quickly issue resolution.

The user management system enables CSMs to manage the drivers and orders. The system also allows for tracking and updating of order statuses. Notifications about the status of the orders are sent to drivers via emails and SMS through the user management system.

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