How NFQ developed a logistics operating system – Alaiko
Founded in the first half of 2020 in Munich, Germany, Alaiko GmbH is a hypergrowth startup offering small- and medium-sized e-commerce DTC brands a digital fulfilment-as-a-service platform. As a reliable and hands-on tech partner, NFQ helped them turn their business idea into a working solution.
Obviously, e-commerce in Europe has never seen such numbers as today, and further growth is only imminent. According to data by TradingPlatforms, in 2020 there were 480.9 million digital commerce users in Europe, and by the end of 2021, this number will most likely surpass 500 million. In this highly competitive market, any company that helps bring down operating costs and streamline the journey of goods to customers has the potential to scale at warp speed. Provided they are not late to the market themselves. That’s where having a tech partner like NFQ can help immensely.
To build a well-functioning software solution from scratch (be it an e-commerce platform or a SaaS product), a young company would, first of all, need to hire across many different verticals – from seasoned software architects to developers and QA engineers. And focusing too much on the actual tech itself, the company would have limited resources to dedicate to business development, sales and marketing – components as crucial as the underlying technology.
Mindful of these constraints, Alaiko, then an early-stage startup taking its first steps knew it wanted to build a scalable, automated logistics and warehousing system to enable smooth order fulfilment. As e-commerce experts, they understood well the problems their future clients were facing – sub-optimal inventory reconciliation, a lack of an effective connection between store and warehouse systems, the need to adapt to fluctuating order volumes, and so on. The system they wanted to build and the market would have to connect all relevant stakeholders, including ERP platforms, fulfillers, shipping providers, and the e-commerce stores themselves into a single unit, allowing for seamless and flexible process control, monitoring, and communication.
“We came to NFQ with a vision in mind and a broad MVP scope of what we wanted to achieve with the first version of our product. During several initial workshops, we shaped the technical foundation and went through all parts of the product step by step. The NFQ team was a great sparring partner from day one, helping us to define the scope with a super scalable technical foundation while cutting out complexities that would delay shipping an MVP that would enable us to go live with initial customers. As a superb tech provider, they were then quick to provide us with a detailed roadmap that had the goal of bringing our solution to market on the best possible terms”Gabriel Thomalla, co-founder and CPO of Alaiko
“I am still amazed by the precision and little input NFQ was able to ship the first version of our product. So we didn’t stop there. We have continued to build the product with a dedicated team of NFQ engineers and we are confident that the combination of speed and quality the team is able to consistently deliver is best-in-class and allows us to work towards our vision of becoming the global leader in e-commerce logistics.”
With a solid blueprint in place, NFQ’s veteran software engineers used a wide range of technologies to deliver an MVP within 6 months. During its first year of operation, Alaiko was able to scale substantially, managing a high six-digit number of orders through the software. The system NFQ built features asynchronous data transfer via queue systems for scaling, active monitoring and alerts for spotting potential issues before they arise, and data reconciliation for critical processes. Today, Alaiko is helping over 100 brands with order fulfilment, and fully integrates with the most popular e-commerce platforms and tools, like Shopify, Billbee, WooCommerce, among others.
According to Gediminas Pukšmys, NFQ’s Technology Lead for Alaiko, quality, as well as speed, was always front and centre during the development process:
“We have multiple stages of quality testing and development, as well as a number of automation tools for ensuring code quality before it goes to the AWS servers. We also continually upgrade our tech stack whenever a worthwhile addition turns up on the market.”
Alaiko’s success of quickly going to market with a stable tech solution was ensured by getting a tech partner at the earliest stage of their business journey. And it is one of many NFQ’s partnerships where concrete business goals and ideas were given the technological shape they needed.