Author Topic: swill's group buy web app  (Read 1964 times)

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Offline swill

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swill's group buy web app
« on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 00:04:27 »
Because this idea seemed to peak a lot of people's interested, I figured I would get to work on it.  I have been thinking about it for a while and I have implemented some basic functionality already for a couple one off implementations, so I figured I should just build something proper to solve the problem.

The initial discussion around this idea started in the GH60 thread: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=41464.msg1853939#msg1853939

The implementation will be somewhat similar to what I did for the GH60 Marketplace, http://gh60-market.swillkb.com, but with a lot more of the details smoothed out...

I will be leveraging Google Drive and will be giving users the ability to expose some columns of their Google Drive Spreadsheet to the public so everyone can easily keep tabs on the status, how close we are to MOQ, and other such things.  The idea is that you would use the Google Drive Forms to collect information (completely configured by you as you see fit for your use case) and then expose some columns of the resulting responses to everyone so people know what is going on without manual counts and such...

Here is a teaser for now...

110375-0

Please give me feedback as you see fit.  I am in active development at this point.  I have user creation and management in place so far.  I have already built to core functionality for this, but there are a lot of moving pieces to get everything to be a cohesive self service app (or SaaS).  Hopefully I will be able to have something up for people to start doing some beta testing on in the next week or so.  We will see how things go in real life.  I have a LOT of work to do on a new fence I am building right now as well, so we will see how much time I have available right now. 

Figured I would give everyone a chance to give feedback before I get too deep into the development of this tool.

Cheers...
« Last Edit: Mon, 07 September 2015, 20:29:30 by swill »

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 00:04:39 »
reserved...

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 04:33:57 »
This sounds like a great idea,  Thanks swill!

Assuming Google spreadsheets are like Excel ones it would be good to be able to expose selected rows too?  That way you could add a section at the top detailing MOQs, price breaks and a row for the current totals which counts the entries below (I'm thinking it would be a column each for plates, stabs, PCBs...) along with the dates and updates.

If buyers are also logging in it could then show just their entry so they could amend quantities and colours (until the buy is finalised) and delivery address (until it's shipped)  Then you get into data validation though, where someone may paste a number with a space, or a Europeans may use a "," as a decimal separator in a length field...

Not sure if Google are as specific as MS in their lock down settings (or whether these come under the SaaS setup or user control within it) or as advanced in it's validation, but I thought these were worth mentioning.

I'll be around for beta testing so if anyone needs a "stupid" user to try and break stuff feel free to drop me a PM (I do spreadsheets for such people at work so know what they do :)))
                               
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Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 08:15:32 »
This sounds like a great idea,  Thanks swill!

Assuming Google spreadsheets are like Excel ones it would be good to be able to expose selected rows too?  That way you could add a section at the top detailing MOQs, price breaks and a row for the current totals which counts the entries below (I'm thinking it would be a column each for plates, stabs, PCBs...) along with the dates and updates.

I don't want to get into row management because it will complicate things a lot since the spreadsheet is auto generated by the form.

Each GB will have metadata configured in the app which will handle things like which columns are public, etc. I was thinking of also allowing the person who is running the buy to specify the columns to show totals for and what the moq is for those columns. It would be their responsibility to make sure their entry form only accepts numbers. Google forms allow you to have data validation on text fields, so its not difficult.

If buyers are also logging in it could then show just their entry so they could amend quantities aud colours (until the buy is finalised) and delivery address (until it's shipped)  Then you get into data validation though, where someone may paste a number with a space, or a Europeans may use a "," as a decimal separator in a length field...

The buyer will not need an account because their only interaction with the GB will be through the Google form. The buy author would have to specify if the form can be modified once entered, and if yes, the buyer would have to bookmark the edit link on their own.

Not sure how I can make that easier since I will have no control over that aspect of the flow.

Not sure if Google are as specific as MS in their lock down settings (or whether these come under the SaaS setup or user control within it) or as advanced in it's validation, but I thought these were worth mentioning.

I'll be around for beta testing so if anyone needs a "stupid" user to try and break stuff feel free to drop me a PM (I do spreadsheets for such people at work so know what they do :)))

There will be things that come up which may be tricky, but I think the basic idea will work...
« Last Edit: Sun, 06 September 2015, 08:17:12 by swill »

Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 08:29:07 »
OMG I made this! (By suggesting something incredibly obvious that someone else then actually created)

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 13:38:20 »
OMG I made this! (By suggesting something incredibly obvious that someone else then actually created)
Were you the one to ask for a status website in the gh60 GB?  Or are you thinking of something else?

Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 13:41:09 »
I asked for the google form for leftover PCBs, but it was really just a joke.

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 13:43:11 »
Sounds like there's more this than I thought, that's good.  I will wait until I've seen something before commenting further but you're right that it should work :)
                               
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Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 14:03:28 »
I asked for the google form for leftover PCBs, but it was really just a joke.

Oh ya.  I had already built something for BunnyLake for the gh60 status website (which we still need to launch), so the gh60-market was pretty easy for me to throw together in a couple hours and launch. 

This tool/service will use a lot of the same core functionality but will also show all the currently running group buys and interest checks and will allow the group buy authors to change settings and such throughout the process.  Right now with the one off sites I have done, they are all manually configured and I have to restart the service every time I make a change to the config.

This is the main reason why this new service is a bit of a bigger deal because there are a lot more moving parts rather than just the core functionality to show the status and such.  It will happen, I just have to get back to building my fence for now.  :P

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 14:07:20 »
Sounds like there's more this than I thought, that's good.  I will wait until I've seen something before commenting further but you're right that it should work :)

Ya, hopefully I will be able to launch a beta where we can dry run some stuff without people actually committing to buy anything so people who run group buys can test and verify things are working in a way that will be viable going forward.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this is because for cutting plates (using http://builder.swillkb.com for example), it is much MUCH cheaper to get like 5 plates cut rather than getting a one off.  I think this service will allow people to run micro GBs, getting 4 other people to go in with them to get a specific layout plate or case cut.  That is the idea.  I am all about building services to enable people to do cool things and to lower the bar so it is more accessible to more people.  We will see...

Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 14:31:25 »
Now THAT'S a good idea! You could have a tiny GH60-GB for just people who don't want the letter A on the keyboard. It's a big forum, you might find 4 other people with the same though.
« Last Edit: Sun, 06 September 2015, 17:10:03 by tofgerl »

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 06 September 2015, 21:29:28 »
Alright, a couple questions I need some input on.  Hopefully there are people trolling this thread who run group buys or at least participate in them a bunch and can get me some feedback...

I think I should probably support both interest checks and group buys.  I am still on the fence a bit about the interest checks because I am not sure I see the point to be totally honest.  So the big question is, should they be run completely isolated from each other.  So, if someone signs up for an interest check, there is NO expectation that they will be signed up for the Group Buy if it moves to a group buy.  OR, an interest check is just a setting in a group buy that can be toggled, so if people sign up for an interest check and it becomes a group buy, they are automatically enrolled with the details they entered in the interest check. 

The difference technically between these two workflows is relatively large because the basic model and filtering functionality changes quite a bit depending on this decision.  If I make the interest check a toggle in a group buy, then technically you would be able to do both scenarios.  If you wanted to have interest check sign up's added to the group buy when it is launched, that would be possible.  If you wanted to start from scratch, you could easily create a new group buy and make everyone sign up for it.

My personal preference would be to have a toggle and the default would be for people to be automatically added to the group buy if they express interest and the status is changed to 'group buy'.

Feedback and comments welcome...  :)

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 02:34:20 »
It all depends how long the IC will run for.  I remember seeing an IC thread that was a couple of months old with "quick turnaround" being a prominent thing in the OP but another six months passed with no action - in this case I don't think it's fair to auto-add me to the buy because it's not what I signed up for, and who knows where I'll be in eight months time - I could have a child I know nothing about today, so my budget would be spent!

Again coming from my non Google spreadsheet experience it sounds like you just need a "commit to buy" column added to the sumifs() when the buy goes live (or for the GB runner to filter on when ordering) but will anyone keep their edit link?  Can you e-mail people their link based on the e-mail in the form?  If not that's a pretty big oops by Google.

If all else fails I guess people could just add a new entry which would really count and the old one would be ignored when it goes live.
                               
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Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 02:39:26 »
What about a kickstarter-like thing where the owner/operator sets a time limit on the IC, and if the number hits before the time is up, the GB is enabled?

This could be an optional thing of course, a normal IC could still be the default.

And I think a (once again optional?) binding interest is a good idea.

Offline Oobly

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 05:15:10 »
IC participants should NOT be automatically added to the Group Buy. An IC is just to guage interest, there are no actual commitments made at the IC stage, although it's requested that anyone who signs up for an IC should be willing to commit to the GB, it's not mandatory and there are often changes from IC to GB that may change the person's interest (price changes, design changes, etc), or sometimes changes to the person's situation (job loss, unexpected expenses, etc) or simply the timing of the GB (other GB's the person has signed up for recently, timing of the GB, salary payment dates, etc).

What tofgerl is proposing is a very good idea, but it means there would be three stages to a GB:
1. Desiging the set / keycaps / PCB's, etc with community feedback (this often happens currently in IC threads)
2. Actual commitments to purchase as an "IC" form.
3. GB stage.

The last 2 should really be part of the GB, not the IC, IMHO. Something like Massdrop's "commit at this price point" is a more flexible idea to me, and covers all cases. If the numbers don't reach the goal, the GB doesn't happen. If it does, everyone gets invoiced at the final price (at least all those who commited to that price point or earlier ones). People who commited at an unreached price point will not be included or invoiced.

The way I see it, an IC (the way they currently work) is more for feedback for the designer at the stage it's still in the design process than for actually running the GB on a final product / design. Of course, I could well be wrong on this, but then we may need a new subforum for "Design Feedback / Active Designs / GB WIP" or something like that. Sometimes it makes sense to get numbers on the interested parties, sometimes not.

So, in my view the IC stage is more of a Work-In-Progress / Feedback / Interest Check, with the numbers slowly growing, but the actual interested parties changing over time as the design progresses (as a design change would turn some people off who prefered the original design, but usually would be made to accommodate a larger group of people). So if you do implement an IC section, perhaps it could be something a user can opt out of if they change their mind? Of course I think designers prefer this to happen in a thread where the person can voice the reason they've lost interest.

Some designers may find value in an IC section to count interest on a particular "finalised" design, though, so it could be a handy feature, but probably won't be used as much as the GB section.
Buying more keycaps,
it really hacks my wallet,
but I must have them.

Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 06:21:41 »

I completely agree. Of the three stages I think only the last two really needs improvement. The design and feedback is actually working quite well on the forum imo.

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 10:47:38 »
It all depends how long the IC will run for.  I remember seeing an IC thread that was a couple of months old with "quick turnaround" being a prominent thing in the OP but another six months passed with no action - in this case I don't think it's fair to auto-add me to the buy because it's not what I signed up for, and who knows where I'll be in eight months time - I could have a child I know nothing about today, so my budget would be spent!

Again coming from my non Google spreadsheet experience it sounds like you just need a "commit to buy" column added to the sumifs() when the buy goes live (or for the GB runner to filter on when ordering) but will anyone keep their edit link?  Can you e-mail people their link based on the e-mail in the form?  If not that's a pretty big oops by Google.

If all else fails I guess people could just add a new entry which would really count and the old one would be ignored when it goes live.

Yes, this makes sense.  I guess I was focusing on smaller buys.  I think it may make sense to have group buys and interest checks be completely separate and you would have to create a group buy as the transition from an interest check, there would be no way to auto enroll the interest people into a group buy when it launches...

The "commit to buy" concept is tricky because I am only making the framework available, I would have ZERO control over what a group buy creator decides to allow or not allow in the buy.  All of that would be done though the google forms and/or google spreadsheet implementation...

I believe it is possible to have it so people can only have one entry (and i would have to check if that would allow them to edit their response), but that would require that every person sign into their gmail account to participate in the group buy.  That, again, would be controlled by the group buy author as it is a setting in the google forms.  I will have to test this functionality and see what it gives...

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 10:51:14 »
IC participants should NOT be automatically added to the Group Buy. An IC is just to guage interest, there are no actual commitments made at the IC stage, although it's requested that anyone who signs up for an IC should be willing to commit to the GB, it's not mandatory and there are often changes from IC to GB that may change the person's interest (price changes, design changes, etc), or sometimes changes to the person's situation (job loss, unexpected expenses, etc) or simply the timing of the GB (other GB's the person has signed up for recently, timing of the GB, salary payment dates, etc).

What tofgerl is proposing is a very good idea, but it means there would be three stages to a GB:
1. Desiging the set / keycaps / PCB's, etc with community feedback (this often happens currently in IC threads)
2. Actual commitments to purchase as an "IC" form.
3. GB stage.

The last 2 should really be part of the GB, not the IC, IMHO. Something like Massdrop's "commit at this price point" is a more flexible idea to me, and covers all cases. If the numbers don't reach the goal, the GB doesn't happen. If it does, everyone gets invoiced at the final price (at least all those who commited to that price point or earlier ones). People who commited at an unreached price point will not be included or invoiced.

The way I see it, an IC (the way they currently work) is more for feedback for the designer at the stage it's still in the design process than for actually running the GB on a final product / design. Of course, I could well be wrong on this, but then we may need a new subforum for "Design Feedback / Active Designs / GB WIP" or something like that. Sometimes it makes sense to get numbers on the interested parties, sometimes not.

So, in my view the IC stage is more of a Work-In-Progress / Feedback / Interest Check, with the numbers slowly growing, but the actual interested parties changing over time as the design progresses (as a design change would turn some people off who prefered the original design, but usually would be made to accommodate a larger group of people). So if you do implement an IC section, perhaps it could be something a user can opt out of if they change their mind? Of course I think designers prefer this to happen in a thread where the person can voice the reason they've lost interest.

Some designers may find value in an IC section to count interest on a particular "finalised" design, though, so it could be a handy feature, but probably won't be used as much as the GB section.

I agree with your position.  The commit to purchase tiers is tricky.  I think it could be done by an author, but it would be a bit challenging for me to add that functionality into the service itself.  I am really just enabling the ability to use google forms and exposing some aspects of the responses, I have no intention in handling EVERYTHING because that is not feasible in my 'spare' time.  It also will never be everything to everyone, so this approach is to give the most flexibility without imposing too many hard rules about how things 'should' work.  I could potentially create some template forms that people could start from in order to get some specific desired functionality, but that is probably the best I could do...

Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 12:27:11 »
What about the PMK-model? As soon as X commits to buy it automatically becomes a GB?

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 16:09:36 »
What about the PMK-model? As soon as X commits to buy it automatically becomes a GB?

well that was kind of my thinking originally.  i assumed that people who said they were interested would want to actually be involved in the group buy if it happens.  i was thinking have them automagically added to the group buy would be nice in that case.  that does assume shorter group buys and does not account for interest checks which last for like 6 months.  not sure yet to be honest...

Offline tofgerl

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 16:16:20 »
Well, we'll see how the community reacts when PMK (****ing finally) goes back online. That might help decide.

Offline swill

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Re: swill's group buy service
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 07 September 2015, 16:21:06 »
Well, we'll see how the community reacts when PMK (****ing finally) goes back online. That might help decide.

Ya, I didn't even realize they were not online right now.  I only buy SA from then anyway and I have like 3 or 4 SA sets right now so I don't need another set right now.  :P

I will start with GBs and wait on ICs to start with.  I can always come back to that later.  I will only be moving in the right direction anyway.  That would allow us to better define how an IC workflow should work anyway...