During the past six weeks, our product teams worked hard to build two new major features and achieve a large number of improvements to the Highstreet platform. We wanted to kickstart this year, as we concluded greatly the last, and we believe we did!
Platform Update – February 2021
🚀 New features
- Video Lookbooks
- App Speed measurements
- Distributed Cache
- Adyen integration research
- Store Hub
- Store Locator Map View
iOS & Android
What is it?
Lookbooks are a big pillar of our apps and a feature that is heavily used by all brands. We know that lookbooks not only improve conversion rates by 5%, but also contribute to the total brand experience. Now it’s time to bring lookbooks to the next level by introducing Video Lookbooks!
Over the past years, video has taken an increasingly important role in brand communication. With the rise of Instagram and YouTube, brands are creating a wealth of videos to share their stories and products. For the app, we had a different vision in mind than just adding a video player. As always we want to offer extraordinary experiences and take them a step further. Just as we did with static looks in our Lookbooks feature, we’ve connected the video experience to the product catalog so that the videos become instantly shoppable.
How to use it
In the Lookbook Manager in Studio, we’ve added the possibility to upload a video. During uploading Highstreet’s backend processes the video and optimises it. At the same time, Studio also analyses keyframes within the video. Once the uploading is complete, you’re able to assign products to the recommended time stamps or select a time slot yourself. Sounds like a piece of cake, right?
Every linked product is shown for a minimum of 3 seconds, making it easy for users of the app to interact with the products. Once the time slot for the product has passed, a new product moves into the screen automatically. This ensures that a shoppable product is always visible in the screen. Users can scroll back to a product at any time and add it to their wishlist. With a single tap, users go to the Product Detail View and add the product to their basket. By tapping on the back button users return to the video lookbook, which automatically resumes.
We’re super excited to find out how brands will use Video Lookbooks!
Backend, iOS & Android
App speed measurements
Next to building new features, we constantly spend time on improving our existing ones as well. A great user experience goes hand in hand with fast loading times. In this development cycle our team enabled Firebase performance metrics to gain insight in the speed of our lister and detail pages. Any action by the user will now trigger data to be sent to a dashboard. The results will allow us to pinpoint what can be improved in a next cycle to make the app perform even faster.
Backend, iOS & Android
In the last development cycle of 2020, we made improvements to our backend to make sure the platform can handle large spikes in traffic and is easier to scale. In this cycle we’ve focused on improving the reliability and efficiency of our cache.
All products that a users requests in the app need to be fetched from the brands’ backend system, through our ‘middleware’. We’ve rebuilt our caching solution whereby we distribute the cache differently, making it a lot more reliable. Next to having multiple server clusters, cache is now also shared between these clusters. This removes the risk of a single point of failure and reduces the amount of requests to the brand’s backend.
Previously, while running a cache flush the app’s speed was affected by it. In the new situation, while running a cache flush the app retains its speed. However, the result of the cache flush has not changed. Another benefit of the distributed cache is that a cache flush will never end up in a queue and will always run instantly. No more waiting and instant result!
Lastly, with our improvements to the cache it now also recognises ‘hot items’ and prioritises them to make the cache more efficient. Hot items are products that are viewed the most and therefore most requested in the backend. Every day the first 20 products of a category are cached to make sure users can start shopping right away. When the user views products beyond those initial 20, the apps needs to request the product data from the backend. However, regardless of the position in the category ‘hot items’ will always load instantly.
Adyen integration research
Highstreet currently integrates with Adyen using a Hosted Payment Page (HPP). This integration has been serving us well for over 3 years however it’s now time to upgrade to the latest APIs offered by Adyen.
In this cycle we’ve investigated a solution to upgrade the Adyen integration. Our investigation was aimed at mapping the requirements for the different solution directions. We’ve looked into a number of possibilities like implementing a newer version of the HPP or a native integration. All while carefully considering the effect on the app and the user experience. The outcome will serve as input for one of our upcoming cycles this year.
The next step is to discuss all solution directions and decide on which one will be implemented. None of the solution directions we’ve explored require any work on the brand’s side.
The Store Hub is the next step in providing a seamless brand experience between the app and your physical stores. When customers enter your store and open the app, the Store Hub will launch immediately in case the user has given the app permission to share the location. From this view users will be able to launch store-specific features and see important information like their loyalty card, vouchers, or recent orders.
The store-specific features can also be accessed when a user is not physically present in the store. In the Native Storelocator, a button will be added to all the store views. Tapping this button also allows users to access the Store Hub.
iOS & Android
Store Locator Map View
The latest addition to the Store Locator is the map view. The map view serves as an alternative to the list view and allows users to quickly see which stores are nearby, based on their storefront. This visual overview offers customers a way to find all stores close to their location. From the map view, customers can quickly navigate to the detail view of a store, find more information and access the Store Hub.
To be able to make use of the Store Locator Map View users will need to share their location.
That’s it for our release update! Have a peek at our release portal to see what’s new and what’s next at Highstreet.