How does it look when a well-established profitable holding company ventures into the digital product realm to build the Amazon of the Balkans? Buckle up and read the full story from the start.
Delta Holding is a Serbian holding company, and one of the largest non-government employers in the country, which performs a variety of services, such as agribusiness, real estate, and wholesale. With online commerce experiencing expansion during the coronavirus pandemic, Delta Holding recognised the need and started their next bold mission to build the largest eCommerce platform in the Balkan region designed to meet both sellers’ and buyers’ needs and win their trust in online shopping.
One of the main differentiators of this platform set to be reached is a unique user experience in each of the phases of online shopping – from browsing the products, via ordering, to the payment and the delivery. In addition to superior user perception, this platform strives to achieve sophisticated design, outstanding user support, safe transactions and on-time delivery. This will allow Ananas to connect the sellers and the buyers on a reliable regional online shopping platform and, therefore, stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the biggest world eCommerce platforms such as the eCommerce giant Amazon. After working with Boston Consulting Group on creating a roadmap and a business model on how to turn their vision into reality, Delta Holding approached HTEC seeking its tech expertise on how to build on that momentum. We joined this journey first as a tech advisor and later as a tech enabler.
Delta Holding, Boston Consulting Group and HTEC brainstormed the ideas during numerous innovation workshops. In the early phase, we not only conducted the tech advisor but also suggested the most appropriate foundation for the entire build-from-scratch product. Our product team backed up with BCG’s consultants defined all the major MVP initiatives, designed the entire look-and-feel, UI and UX and conducted the entire product discovery. Eventually we expanded the product management layer, gradually onboarded the cross-functional development teams and embarked on the full-fledged product delivery to reach the desired MVP. We worked as a true business partner where we added value not only in terms of developing a desired solution but also in recognizing new opportunities and offering business consultation and support along the way.
We set a few goals we wanted to reach on this project:
- End-to-end fulfilment — Introducing Ananas’ own fulfilment centre to guarantee delivery on time and next-day delivery promise
- Last-mile delivery carrier — New carrier on the market to build up internal crew and decrease the dependencies on other local carriers
- Smooth product browsing, checkout, returns and claims — Ensuring outstanding customer experience for the local market and faster and guaranteed money return in a defined time window
- Scalable and rich eCommerce — Performance-oriented, scalable architecture to support any kind of growth, internationalisation and localisation
- Merchant portal — A new standard for local merchants on how to do online selling business smoothly
The goal for Ananas is not only to build a marketplace that would be a go-to place for online shopping in the region and beyond. Thanks to the bold vision of Ananas’ CEO Marko Carevic, the goal is much more challenging: to create a whole ecosystem consisting not only of Marketplace, but also Logistics, Retail, AdTech and FinTech departments all running under the same umbrella and offering a variety of products and services.
Among the Ananas recent aspiring new joiners is Natasa Kazic, CMO, there to steer the further product innovation along the above-mentioned lines. She has a strong footprint in the eCommerce industry, with focus on marketing, where she spent more than 10 years combining product development with consultancy, co-founding and writing.
The brilliant delivery crew that stands behind the quest so far consists of battle-proven Solution Architects, DevOps, Backend and Frontend developers, Data scientists, QA Automation and Manual engineers, Product, Project and Engineering Managers, UI/UX Specialists and Scrum Masters. Next to those we had several younger aspirants energized to reach those same levels of expertise. Team Topology methodology was adopted to roll out the entire process of scrum development, product discovery, and product delivery.
“There are three things that distinguish HTEC from others: Exceptional partnership approach, deep care about the created business value, and truly open communication with the management.” — Marko Carevic, Chief Executive Officer at Ananas
At some point of the journey more and more programmers and experts within different above-mentioned tech, product and project stack joined from the Ananas side.
- AWS for infrastructure
- React for the front-end side
- GraphQL as a middle layer
- Java Spring Boot on the back-end side
- Various accelerators and 3rd party integrations
Ananas MVP was built from ground up in less than 9 months and released in mid of 2021. Now, at the end of 2022, customers in the region (and soon beyond) can easily browse and purchase 100,000+ various products without having painful experiences with order and delivery. They can enjoy all the benefits of the world-class eCommerce platform, which distinguishes itself by:
- a large assortment of goods across many different categories, in cooperation with hundreds of suppliers and merchants
- delivering a completely innovative and new user experience to the Serbia’s customers
For example, products marked with aDirekt grant next-day delivery since they are sourced from Ananas’ own fulfilment centre! And the shipping has been free of charge for months now. All that with the cherry on top, namely the superb last mile experience envisioned by Felipe Alves, Ananas COO, ex Mercado Libre Director and BCG partner, who came to Serbia to leap-frog the Logistics and Supply Chain industry of the region! Buyers can choose hundreds of different Pick-Up-Drop-Off or Lockers locations in Serbia in case when products aren’t too bulky.
And that’s only the beginning of Last Mile novelties. Plus, there are over 15 product categories to choose from. With all these unique functionalities, we can say that Ananas platform will provide shoppers with everything they need – from electronics, clothing, and footwear to tools and small home appliances – the way they need it — a carrier coming to their front door instead of them having to play hide and seek with the carrier.
Unlike some off-the-shelf solutions, the Ananas platform is created as a highly bespoke solution, based on heavy user research and continuously adapted per-user feedback. This enables Ananas stakeholders to easily scale and customize their operations.
For example, the heart of the platform is a custom-order lifecycle flow that spans the whole post-purchase experience. It is built and adapted specifically for Ananas business and software ecosystem enabling advanced features like automated decision making, sophisticated status tracking and automated refund processes.
“One of the reasons why this collaboration resulted in success is the HTEC’s determination to proactively take new challenges and invest much of their time in better understanding of each of them.” — Dragana Djogovic, Head of PMO and Portfolio at Ananas
On top of this, the client has ambitious plans to internationalize and roll out the Ananas platform on several new regional markets thus enabling something that no one has ever succeeded so far in the local region: uniting several smaller markets under the same umbrella despite the myriad of regulatory work needed!
“As Ananas leadership states its moto: “teško, a jako!”, or in English “tough, but strong!”, it reflects just the right attitude coming from someone who’s on an inspiring mission to completely change the regional eCommerce landscape.” — Vojislav Mokric, Engineering Manager at HTEC Group
Ananas sees HTEC as one of the strategic partners in the coming years as well. Due to our strong and robust domain knowledge of the entire ecosystem we have gathered during the last 3 years, we will continue to provide high value to our client and empower them to make a valuable difference in the Serbian market as well as in surrounding countries. So, stay tuned!
But don’t take our words for granted! The best way to experience what we have built is to order something from ananas.rs (or browse it if you are outside of Serbia) and see it for yourself.