Edstem partnered with an on-demand warehouse startup in 2018 to develop a cloud-based solution that let customers tap into a network of innovative warehouses and their services. The platform provides an on-demand warehousing solution and has the capabilities to seamlessly integrate with the chosen Warehouse Management System.The solution is end to end, with client onboarding, marketplace search, contracting and invoice generation enabled online. This greatly reduces the strain on the Inventory Management and Accounts Payable, while enabling transparent and safe transactions, thus making it a win-win for both the warehouse operators and the service seekers.
The solution identified should be highly scalable and quite easy to manage and use, both for the clients and the admin. Some of the key challenges identified were the below
The solution should cater to small, medium and large warehouses and hence should be scalable enough to accommodate and track any volume of data coming from the client or the warehouse management system.
The solution should be robust, and should enable quick and easy search of various options available for the depositor of the goods, and should accommodate multiple projects and inventory movements, across locations, with minimal errors.
The solution should be intelligent enough to suggest the best possible options in terms of ease of access, services provided and cost, thus ensuring that all client requirements are met in the best possible manner
The solution should be highly customised based on the logged in user type. In other words, the users should be able to access the preferred screens of their choice with less hassle, and perform the relevant tasks or view data in an efficient manner. The screens would vary depending on the logged in user.
Seamless payment integration
The solution should process end-to-end payments and charges incurred. It should generate invoices that are clear and enable quick and easy processing of payments and be transparent in terms of accounts.
Contract and communication management
The solution should encompass communication between interested clients and providers, and should also support project creation, with contracts and terms agreed upon, and have an option to enable legally bound contracts.
The solution, at any given point of time, should show the users the data which they are looking for, in a really quick and efficient manner – data like the number of active projects, listings, inventory in transit and much more, required in the warehouse operations. These snapshots should be specific to each user type.
- The solution was built in a way that the key architecture being the same, the front end user screens were markedly different for the three user types identified – the admin or the manager of the warehouse platform, the goods depositors (or the end-user clients) and the warehouse operators.
- The solution was initially built in a monolithic fashion, using nodejs and MongoDB, for beta users.
- The solution was then revamped to cater to larger warehouse clients and warehousing solutions. The front end was developed using EJS and the Backend APIs were all modified to REST based APIs, for easy integrations with client warehousing solutions.
- Continuous Integration Pipeline was achieved using Jenkins.
- The backend services were Dockerized, and Orchestration on Kubernetes was done using Helm.
- Key third-party integrations included Stripe integration for end-to-end invoicing and payouts, with support to multiple channels of subscription and transaction-based payments, as well as HelloSign integration for legally bound contracts between the warehouse operators and the clients.
A beta version of the Warehouse solution was built and released to production by Q1 2019. The solution catered primarily to two different users – Warehouse Operators and Clients seeking warehouse spaces, in addition to an admin user.
Currently, the application has around 200 warehouse operators and 160 clients using the platform, with around 450+ warehouses being listed for the clients to choose from. Around 180+ projects are being actively discussed and tracked, with an equivalent number of invoices being catered to.