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Catalog Processing Tool

Client overview

The client is one of the leading e-commerce companies and the largest mobile commerce platform in India, selling products across categories such as fashion, home, electronics, industrial supplies, recharge services and more. With over 100 million users, 80,000 merchants and 500 product categories being offered and more than 50 million orders per month, the client enjoys a thriving marketplace that it offers to its consumers on its desktop and mobile apps.

Identifying needs and challenges

The Indian e-commerce industry is growing at a very fast rate and marketplaces are adding thousands of new merchants into the platform. Uploading catalogs from these merchants is a job which is performed by a huge operations team.

With hundreds of merchants being added to the marketplace every day, the client sees a large volume of product catalogs being submitted for uploading to the portal. Each vendor maintains a different template for their product catalog. Catalogs are submitted across categories such as fashion, home, electronics, industrial supplies, recharge services and more.The client had a large operations team to manually standardize the merchants’ excel templates.

This task involved:
⦁ reordering of field columns to match the template required for uploading to c-panel
⦁ changing of attribute nomenclature to that of the standard template
⦁ row-wise data validation to check for mandatory values, data type adherence, standardization of refiners, etc.

This standardization process required multiple iterations due to manual error-handling techniques that would not be able to identify all errors in the first iteration itself. Ultimately, this process used to take anywhere between 4-6 hours before the excel file could be uploaded to the c-panel.Also, due to a constant influx of merchants joining the platform, the client was planning to add double the amount of personnel to its team, thus increasing the team size to a whopping 400 people.

The client wanted a cost effective software interface that would reduce the errors, iterations, time taken and personnel required to perform the product catalog standardization process.

Solution implemented

Using Polestar’s agile methodology, we were able to provide the client with an automated Catalog Processing Tool to satisfy their needs. This tool consists of three modules:

User module
The User module is where most of the magic happens. It is in this module that the user processes each merchant’s spreadsheet. The system then generates CSV files with corrected data. Any erroneous records are extracted into another file along with the reason(s) for the error.

Key features of this module include:
⦁ automatic mapping of the merchant template to the company template
⦁ manually define additional mapping rules
⦁ search and replace all functions
⦁ product image preview
⦁ formulae building
⦁ spell checks
⦁ filters
⦁ processing of multiple sheets within an excel workbook without additional effort
⦁ error detection based on field level validations such as presence of mandatory fields, acceptable data validations, relationship with other fields, type of input data (numeric, Boolean, text, etc.) and more
⦁ strong visual error notification for the user to easily see and fix errors.

Admin module
The Admin module allows the Admin to create new templates and templates columns (attributes) on the fly. Key features of this module include:
⦁ creation of new users
⦁ assignment of roles to users
⦁ log management
⦁ creation of new templates, validations and mapping rules

QC module
The QC Module is built for the Quality Manager to check if processed files to be loaded into the ecommerce portal are correct or not.
Key features of this module include:
⦁ notification of errors existing in the processed files
⦁ comparison of processed and original merchant files
⦁ ability to change values in the processed file
⦁ exporting processed files in CSV format

Technology stack used
Node.js (OpenSource)
MySQL DB

Value delivered

Zero errors in 99% lesser time
The use of CPT replaced a lot of human effort, thus increasing throughput and reducing errors. It reduced the time taken for processing each product catalog from 6 hours to 5 minutes.

Satisfied customers
The CPT ensured more reliability of data in the product catalog based on defined checks and balances rather than human judgment. This greatly enhanced the end user experience of the portal.
Team rightsizing
The new, automated system increased productivity and enhanced human resource utilization by redistributing definable and recurring tasks to the processing tool. This enabled the client to suspend plans for further recruitment of personnel and reduced efforts of up to 280 man months per month. This meant that human resources were freed up to perform other, more productive tasks.
Conclusion

By implementing CPT, the client’s ad-hoc processes were reduced and manual efforts were reduced, thereby reducing the risk of errors, enabling optimum utilization of human resources and enhancing user experience.

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