Everything But The House needed an e-commerce app that could handle its hundreds of thousands of users — and learn from them. 

Everything But The House

Everything But The House brought startup innovation to the unlikely world of estate sales, creating an online auction house that draws hundreds of thousands of users each month and earning them $84.5 million in VC funding — including the latest $41.5 million round. EBTH turned to us to conquer the iPhone with its first full e-commerce app for iOS.

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Working together to work smarter

When EBTH approached us, they had a fully responsive website, but their only app offering was a web-view app — just the existing website packaged for Apple’s App Store. It just couldn’t do what the team wanted. They needed to build a new app from the ground up. And with one iOS developer, they needed help to do it.

The single most impressive thing during this project was the sheer integration between the EBTH team and ours. We worked so closely together with their designer, their iOS developer and their product owner. We traveled to Ohio, they traveled here, we shared a daily standup meeting, and we chatted in Slack constantly. We trained their developer on our toolset. We even pulled the EBTH team into our retrospectives every two weeks, so we could transparently talk through how things were working. That fusion really let us work as one team: We were able to rapidly make good decisions because all the stakeholders were working together. With that speed, we went from idea to the app store in a few short months.

“We really wanted to collaborate together, literally doing pull requests together and all that. We saw it as an ability to learn from other practitioners who have done a lot of work in the mobile space.”

Drew McKenzie, Product Manager at EBTH

Starting with strategy

To build that closeness, we started with an Inception, our version of a project kickoff meeting, which gives us a crash course in the business so we can make strategic product suggestions based on its needs. Spending two days together in-person at the start really helped us to get to know the people alongside the company, so we went into the project with a shared understanding and a rapport. We were also able to help them think strategically, add features to the product and plan out future versions.

“From Day One we were really comfortable with their approach to planning and detail up front. The Inception process was really time well spent.”

Drew McKenzie, Product Manager at EBTH

We listened to the users to build an app that met their needs.

A mutual respect for the user

TXI and EBTH both share a deep understanding of how important user feedback is. We actually had EBTH’s Chief Marketing Officer fly in from Ohio to talk to our delivery team. He told us how EBTH thinks about its users — that the whole team is regularly in contact with real users and often scouring analytics for opportunities to improve the user experience. To get an app off the ground, we knew we’d need to take the same approach.

Will Norris, our user researcher, conducted mobile usability testing with several potential end-users to find out what held true from web to mobile and what functionality needed to be added or altered. We quickly found out that we had underestimated how strategic users are when they place their bids. To give them the information they needed to place winning bids no matter their auction style, we completely redid the bidding page to add more information and clear feedback to direct users effectively.

“It's easy for us to latch on to some things as a company. What was helpful for me as the product owner is to see that we still need to educate people about how to participate and frankly how to win auctions.”

Drew McKenzie, Product Manager at EBTH

Creating an app stable enough to support 24,000 active users a month — and rapidly growing!

With a high-profile company like Everything But the House, we had to architect the application to not just handle a ton of users, but to manage the massive jumps in traffic that can come from, say, a high-end celebrity sale such as Tanya Tucker.

To build them a foundation for success going forward, we focused intensely on code quality and test coverage. We complemented our thorough code review process with code test coverage of 93 percent to make sure the app works great now and will continue to work great in the future.

That meticulousness has paid off. Despite the high adoption rate and a few big spikes in usage, we’ve kept crash-free users at 97 percent or higher. That’s something we’re incredibly proud of. We’ve built EBTH a robust and stable platform for innovation going forward.

“This was really about setting up our project to be something that was longterm, very stable. You could have a lot of team members developing on it in the future.”

Drew McKenzie, Product Manager at EBTH

Adding in-app analytics to act strategically

To test how effective those innovative future improvements are, we’ve equipped EBTH with a suite of in-app analytics tools that can inform their decisions. Until very recently, it was almost impossible to see what users were doing inside your app. But innovative new tools like Fabric.io’s Answers and AppAnnie can give phenomenal new insights. So far we’ve been able to analyze the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and track the spike in downloads and usage caused by tweaking keywords — a change the EBTH wouldn’t have known to make without these tools.

Fabric.io's Answers is one of the tools that let us see what users are doing inside the app in real time. 

“Table XI already had its stable of tech tools. It was great that we could just very quickly get that up and running. We wanted to learn how larger mobile teams are set up and what tooling they use.”

Drew McKenzie, Product Manager at EBTH

Building for the future

Since Day One, EBTH has clued us in on their business strategy. Because of that, we’ve been able to build an application that will work for the company’s future needs. All of the above — the close teamwork, the inception, the user testing, the analytics — they’ve all been bricks in a foundation EBTH can build on.

Already, the new application is driving growth for the company. And with the data we’re collecting, EBTH will be able to make informed decisions about how it grows next.

“We've been able to iterate. It's really great for me when I'm sitting down with our customers. I can say, 'Hey, don't worry, we have a release coming out next week.' Just that idea that we can keep showing them that we're improving is just so much fun.”

Drew McKenzie, Product Manager at EBTH

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