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Project Proposal


									                                  IS480 Project Proposal
                         Re-defining Online Shopping Experience
                                     18th June 2012
Team Members:
    Chew Siew Chin (             – Project Manager
    Zou Mei (                   – Secretary
    Ong Zhen Guang (             – Technology Analyst
    Ryan Lim Wen Rong (        – Lead Developer
    Yong Qian Hwee (            – Creative Director
    Lau Shu Neng (          – PR Manager

Faculty Supervisor:
    Richard Davis
1.1        Project Description & Motivation:
There is a limited variety of brands and goods that are imported into
Singapore. Moreover, even when such brands are sold at shops, it is
sold at a significantly higher price due to the profit percentage that
retailers add to these products. Many people would then seek
alternatives, like going online to shop for these products, but due to
the steep shipping costs, they feel such a purchase would not be worth
it as the price is comparable in the end. This in turn motivated people
to start sprees where orders are aggregated to one bulk purchase so
that the shipping costs are split amongst the involved parties.

However, the current situation for sprees in Singapore is mostly
unregulated and disorganized. Managing these sprees is a manual and
tedious affair. We aim to redesign the online social shopping
experience, making it such an easy and simple process that it becomes
an extension of yourself. Shopping as a group will be done effortlessly
without the hassle, so that the joy of the retail experience can shine
through untainted by any unwanted issues.

1.2        Stakeholders:
Online Shoppers Our target audience are the online shoppers of Singapore, who tend to prefer to purchase products online,
                especially those who like to buy overseas brands. They tend to buy in groups to offset the shipping costs,
                and in time this can become a social ritual that many Singaporeans participate in.

Online Retailers After achieving a certain user threshold, we will aim to coordinate our efforts with online retailers to further
                 enhance the online group shopping experience. This can be done through analytics that display to the
                 retailers how effective we are at driving traffic to their sites.

1.3        Deliverables:
      1.   A Social Shopping platform
                 A hangout for spree organizers and spree-ers to meet and participate in sprees
                 Allow interaction between users to share shopping experiences and build a community of like minded
      2.   A browser plugin that allows users to easily capture product information data from any website that has a product
           catalogue, so items could be added into their shopping cart within a click (Eg. Pinterest / Amazon Wish List)
      3.   An order management system that helps coordinate orders and billing issues.

1.4        Scope:
We intend to create a web application that will serve as a platform for users to congregate, mingle and start their bulk group
purchase orders. This web portal will allow users to start their own sprees, join sprees, or share their social shopping
experiences with friends and other users. In order to facilitate the ease of joining sprees and managing such orders, we have
decided to take upon a technical challenge and create a plugin that would allow us to read data from product websites
effectively and efficiently.

This plugin will be built using Javascript that reads the website and obtains all the necessary information like the product's
name, type, colour, quantity, price and so on. This saves time normally spent by the user filling up forms to send to the
person in charge of buying the goods. This will also reduce the discrepancies in the forms due to user error and negligence.
We have timed ourselves filling up the templates currently available for this form of purchase, and the average time is about
3-5 minutes per product. Our technology aims to complete the task within a click, reducing the time taken to merely just a
few seconds per product.

An order management system that would keep track of all these orders as well as the transactions between users must be
incorporated seamlessly into the web application so that the user would not have to overly manage their own account.

To counteract the trust issues that strangers might feel towards one another when dealing with money, we decided to start a
middleman account where the buyers would purchase credits from us, and we will then pool the funds for each spree. After a
spree is finalized, we would release the money to the organizer so that they can start purchasing the goods from the online
retailer. To reduce the risk to the buyers, we are contemplating implementing a deposit concept where we only provide a
portion of the funds to the organizer, and the whole lump sum is only released to the organizer when the goods have been
purchased and received by the buyers. This decreases the chances of the organizer running away with the money, an issue
which occasionally crops up in purchases of this manner. There would then be a system where organizers that are trusted and
provide good services to the other users are commended, and this in turn would lead to a greater freedom in the amount that
they receive for each spree and an increase in the number of orders that they can handle.
1.5        Project Milestones

 1.6        Risks:
Category         Identified Risk                                      Mitigation Plan

Technical        Each merchant’s site has a different design          Develop a base framework which allows us to easily
                 structure. A unique solution is required for each    tweak our codes to accommodate all merchants.
                 site in order for us to capture the required data.
                                                                      Allow for user error reporting, so we could be alerted
                 Also, merchants may edit their sites from time       immediately for us to debug.
                 to time, so our original method of capturing the
                 data would be rendered ineffective.

Security         They may be some cases where there would be          Keep an audit trail to track all transactions. Every
                 dispute in money transactions between users.         transaction made would have a log to avoid such issues.

                 Product delivery could also be problematic           A system could be set up where pictures of receipts could
                 where one party says they sent the goods and         be uploaded so that whenever a delivery is made they
                 the other party asserts that the goods have not      can confirm it visually. This would reduce the number of
                 been received.                                       such issues.

                                                                      If any of the above problems cannot be solved and thus
                                                                      need to be elevated to the authorities, the data that we
                                                                      have available can easily be provided as proof.

Barriers    of   This is an unavoidable problem when any new          Provide detailed step by step videos to guide users on
entry            systems are introduced. Users new to the system      how to use the system.
                 would be afraid to adopting the new system, as
                 they would need to learn how to use it               Demonstration and elucidation on the benefits of using
                 effectively.                                         our system would also be essential in enticing new users
                                                                      to try our application.

1.7        Resource and reference:
We seek to use the current technologies available to us like Javascript, Ruby on Rails, SQL, HTML5 and CSS3. Ruby on
Rails, HTML5 and CSS3 are recent technologies that would allow us to achieve our aims. The risks are that these
frameworks are new, so compatibility issues would crop up, as well as the learning curve that we all will have to overcome to
fully utilise their potential.

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