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IS480 Team wiki: 2012T1 6-bit Project Deliverables

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6-bit's Chapalang! is a social utility that connects people with friends and new friends
by offering a place for exchanging ideas and information on its public domain.
http://www.chapalang.com

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Project Scope

Chapalangprocesses.png

X-Factors

Commercial service

The development of Chapalang! will lead to a commercialization of the project after the completion of IS480 course. It is neither a proof-of-concept nor prototype, but a commercial project and hence proves that there is real business value in the project. Additionally, the system features and processes ought to be sound and valid in order to qualify as a commercial service, which will good project management and effort. Therefore, Chapalang! will be a unique project in IS480 with special values and qualities.

Real users environment

While the official launch date of Chapalang! as a commercial service will be at the discretion of our client, we will be accepting real sellers, real products, real buyers and real transactions. The fulfilment of the transactions has the logistical support of the client, but our team will be fully responsible for catering to the system processes.

A real user environment offers 2 key challenges. The first challenge is that the system function has to be of the same quality and operational standard as a competing commercial service, as customers will have the same quality expectations. Authoring, staging and production environments and policies have to be clear and strictly adhered to. Secondly, real users in this project belong to a mass market audience and hence have highly diversified preferences on functionalities or user experience. Hence, it is challenging to satisfy most or a value stratified users, and subsequently aligning it to our project objectives.

As it is uncommon for most IS480 projects to face these project characteristics, we believe it is a unique X-Factor.

Problem Scenario

As-Is

Problem 1: Existing e-commerce platforms lack social media presence
Modern social media has incorporated many features which are traditionally independent such as photo hosting, micro-blogging, games, information sharing and other collaborative tools. However, it appears that e-commerce has not hit the perimeters of social media if we do not include informal setups of Facebook Groups by small online shops for the purpose of sale.
Facebook had initiated to include an e-commerce application, but it did not appear to be successful. While other major e-commerce players have started to support the sharing of their links on social media, and using social media accounts to login into their portals, social media presence remains sparsely integrated with e-commerce.
This offers a gap in social media where we could have better understood our friends’ online shopping patterns, the things they like and dislike. The integration could have also introduced viral sharing of promotions and discounted products to more people. Furthermore, the wealth of user’s Facebook data could also be put into valuable use by filtering out relevant products and activities of a portal for a user, alleviating information overload.

Problem 2: Dilemma in buying gifts for friends, and hassle in sharing the costs of gifts
In real world social context, it can be a longstanding dilemma on what to buy for a friend on special occasions such as birthdays. Though social networking has helped us connect with an unprecedented number of friends concurrently and conveniently, many of us lost the same quality of close friendships of yesteryears. It is usually a struggle on what to buy for a friend, because we don’t know for sure if they need something, whether it’s already given by someone else, or even if they will like it.
Adding to that, busy people or those with a smaller gift budget will opt to share the costs of a higher priced gift with other mutual friends. Typically, someone will buy the gift and pay in advance and then start to collect equal shares of money from contributors. Contributors pay the organizer via cash or bank transfer.
However, it is sometimes difficult to recover the full costs of the gift for a variety of reasons. Some of them include,

  • Contributors who back out at the 11th hour,
  • Insufficient contributors and hence the average contribution amount is above budget to some contributors,
  • Busy contributors may have forgotten to pay, or delay payment till a long time later


Problem 3: Lack of trust and assurance between buyers and sellers
Forms of e-commerce include but not limited to branded websites (zalora.com), agent websites (amazon.com), blog shops, forum marketplace, and many more. While there is a general level of assumed trust when shopping with branded websites, many online shoppers are also on constant lookout for alternatives offering low prices and more variety which are more commonly available in other forms of e-commerce platforms. These platforms usually do not enjoy high reputation, and simply aggregates various sellers instead of solely maintained by a single company from end-to-end of the order-to-fulfilment process.
In such uncertain circumstances, there is a classic problem of transactional trust where there is low level of trust between buyers and sellers. Buyers worry that if they pay in advance upon their order, sellers may not fulfil the order and send the goods. On the other hand, sellers worry that if they send the goods before receiving payment, buyers may not make the payment.
For most transactions today, we practice caveat empty where the burden of risks is on the buyer and they will often have to pay in advance upon making the order. However, there are no lack in complains that they do not receive their orders after making payment, or receiving the wrong items, or receiving items that are defective.

Problem 4: Informal mass orders and shopping sprees lack structure and organization
Informal mass orders on blog shops and forums are highly attractive because of high costs savings leveraging on bulk pricing. Very often, there will be an organizer who organizes a mass order after sourcing for a supplier and bulk price. He will then post it on a virtual space to collect orders with a target quantity and target price and participants will respond by stating their desired model and quantity. Whether payment is to be made upon order or upon delivery is dependent on the organizer’s preference and ability to pay in advance. Once the target quantity is hit, the organizer will make the order to the supplier. Subsequently, the organizer will receive the goods and will then ask for individual addresses of participants or host a self-collection venue.
The existing process for a mass order is highly manual, and opens many opportunities for distrust between the buyer and seller, further complicating the buyer-seller trust dilemma. More problems are appended below:

  • Organizer collects the payment but do not fulfil the orders
  • Participants cannot be found when the goods arrive and requires payment
  • Human error in recording of participant’s details
  • Human error in sending of wrong items to participants

To-Be

Chapalang! social shopping on a social marketplace platform
Putting all the problem scenarios together, Chapalang! is conceptualized to be a platform that will enable e-commerce with the appended key capabilities:

  • Buying and sharing of gifts,
  • Participating in mass orders, in a structured and organized manner
  • Support escrow service, allowing the administrator manage payments between buyers and sellers.

In addition, the marketplace should be social and support social shopping. In order to achieve this, the following characteristics are important:

  • Close integration with Facebook

User activities on Chapalang! should have options to be mirrored onto Facebook since it has more dominant social networking impact, in forms of postings, linked actions, sharings, et cetera.

  • Migrating existing social network of a user

Friend list on Facebook of a user is obtained from Facebook, for additional social activities recommendations or linkages.

  • Personalized user dashboard

Information overload is undesirable, and information should be filtered according to user’s preferences, behaviour and personality. Personalized dashboard will be data-driven, using basic information from Facebook, as well as sentimental and behavioural analysis on user’s Facebook status, likes, birthday, location, relationship status, et cetera. For example, product recommendations for a male user should not include female fashion and cosmetics.

  • Exposing wish lists of a user to his/her friends

Despite having a wish list function on many e-commerce portals, they mostly serve as a bookmark of items for the user because only the user himself has access to the list. It might have been useful to mark down the things you have browsed through and liked, revisiting and buy it off the virtual shelves on paydays.

However, the exposure of wish lists to friends will enable the buying of appropriate gifts and another user will need.