In a few words
Fablr were appointed by inLink to produce a series of platforms that would deliver a digital invoicing and payment solution for wholesalers and their customers. Emphasising usability and scalability, Fablr built an iOS and Android customer mobile application alongside a web-based portal where wholesalers could manage their account connections and customers.
One of the key issues facing small business owners is receipt and payment of invoices from their wholesalers and suppliers. This is what Jack Boyle was facing on a day-to-day basis in his building firm. Incoming invoices would go missing, get lost, and it was a laborious and confusing process figuring out which invoices were for which job.
Looking to find a solution to the problem, Jack teamed up with friend and co-founder Gavin Stacey, to launch inLink – a platform which would allow building merchants and other wholesalers to quickly and easily send their invoices directly to their customers’ inLink mobile app.
To deliver on the objectives of the inLink platform, Fablr would build two MVP applications – a mobile-friendly wholesaler portal where suppliers could review and manage their account, and a customer mobile application where customers could quickly view, download, and pay invoices.
inLink had already commissioned LightStart to undertake a business analysis phase and deliver a full functional specification with wireframes which provided a strong analysis from which to start the development of the apps.
Another key aim of the project was to avoid giving wholesalers and building suppliers yet another system that they would have to moderate and maintain. The solution was for us to design a scalable platform that would integrate with popular SaaS account systems (such as Xero and Sage) which could then automate processes such as inviting customers and electronically sending their invoices.
We took the existing wireframes and design work provided by LightStart and expanded on these to create a series of interactive prototypes. These were used to simulate the functionality in the wholesaler portal and mobile application, and allowed us to run a series of early-stage user workshops. The insights and observed user responses from this process were then fed back into the brief to improve the cost-efficiency and user experience outcomes for the project.
"React Native helped us minimise the amount of time spent on the central API layer while allowing us to deliver the platform on iOS and Android devices."
- Fablr Technical Director
The challenge of getting the wholesaler portal and customer application to talk to one another was handled using a central API layer. It was this system that also interfaced directly with the wholesaler accounts systems to download invoices and customers so that they could be created or updated (as appropriate). Initial integrations were created for Xero and Sage accounts systems, and a flexible set of interfaces and abstract functionality was put in place to make future integrations relatively quick and painless.
The customer mobile application was built as a hybrid app using React Native, which minimised the amount of time spent on this key component while allowing us to deliver the platform on iOS and Android devices.
The wholesaler portal was built as a single page application (SPA) using React and with many of the same design patterns, components and interfaces ported over from the mobile application to make it easier to maintain and scale functionality on both systems.
Subscriptions to the wholesaler portal and card payments through the mobile app are both handled using a Stripe integration.
In order to support inLink in managing the platform we also built a bespoke and highly secure admin portal where they could review and manage subscriptions. The wholesaler portal also provides easy access to real time application information and usage data.
Lastly, we built a light-weight marketing website for inLink which provides an overview and top-level proposition for the customer app and wholesaler portal together with useful user guides.
The database, API, website, and admin platforms are all hosted on their own load balanced cloud hosting instances which can be scaled to meet demand. This robust architecture is necessary to deal with what could be a sudden surge in users after signing up larger wholesalers and building merchants.
The portal is now live and the mobile app has been launched as a public beta and is available on both the AppStore and Google Play. We’re excited to continue working on the platform in the future to help develop it further and ensure it continues to meet the demands of wholesalers and customers alike.