We were briefed with creating a straightforward solution to the issue of supplier overstock.
We were briefed with creating a straightforward solution to the issue of supplier overstock by building a platform which would allow sellers and buyers to manage the process of auctioning overstock in a fair and entirely self-service way. The platform needed to create a network effect, to attract buyers to the platform and allow for auctions to be extended to a wider network in a way in which allowed for total control by the sellers over which buyers can see their auctions.
The overarching challenge was creating a completely automated system which was easy to use while facilitating what is a complex transactional workflow.
Within this, the first challenge was in condensing the process of uploading an entire inventory in one go to allow sellers to easily set up auctions themselves. As sellers will often have a range of products to submit to auction – with a number of different details per item – the process of setting up a lot could become unwieldy and time-consuming.
The second challenge was managing the payment flow in a fair way for both parties; this meant committing buyers to paying for lots they have won and allowing for a secure transfer of funds to sellers on delivery of the goods.
The third, and biggest challenge was creating a methodology to manage a one-to-many auction environment. To maximise the efficiency of the online auction system, all the stock in an auction would be allocated to buyers in such a way as would maximise the value of the entire auction for the seller and ideally sell the entire inventory being auctioned. The challenge is allowing for this to happen in a real-time auction environment, accommodating fluctuations in bids and quantity requests and ensuring that the right amount of stock is allocated to each buyer to sell the entire amount of stock being auctioned. Allowing for the maximisation of the value of an auction-based on real-time bidding turned out to not be a simple algorithm.
The platform addresses the issue of setting up auctions quickly by allowing sellers to add their inventory in bulk using a simple automated spreadsheet upload. A range of items, with varying details and multiple product images, can be uploaded in one go and can then be attributed to multiple auctions for each type of product.
The payment flow was designed with security in mind, both to keep the funds themselves secure and to ensure commitment to payment on behalf of a buyer whose bid has been accepted. Buyers are required to pre-authorise a card, which is then used to commit funds once a bid is made. The funds are then held in an escrow account until the buyer receives the goods, protecting both parties. All invoicing is automatically created and distributed, with the commission for the sale being automatically transferred to Buyfair’s account.
As part of the UX/UI process, we designed a graphical interface that informs the buyer of current, real-time stock allocation at the time when they submit their bid and employs gamification of the bidding process. We developed a unique, Patent Pending algorithm to calculate buyer allocations, always maximising the value of the auction to the seller and updating buyers in real-time of the success of their bids, making it clear when they have bid too low to be allocated any stock.
To attract buyers, we created a network which allows buyers and sellers to connect, view each other’s profiles and access associated auctions. Algorithmic principles are used to suggest connections and auctions which buyers may be interested in and allows each seller to invite their current list of buyers onto the platform, giving them exclusive access to private auctions which are not available to all buyers but also enabling them to see stock from other sellers.