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Caltex Loyalty Club

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This is the first time that I'm going to post anything under the showcase forum, although I have a few ProcessWire powered websites under my belt. This one is special because I think the use case is somewhat unique.

Caltex Loyalty Club - initial the situation

Caltex Loyalty Club is a customer loyalty and rewards program of Caltex Palawan aimed to provide exciting promos and incentives their customers' continuous patronage. Caltex Palawan originally bought their system from a large software company that also provides card-based solutions.

The previous system consist of the following:

  • two high-end Dell servers that are located in two separate Caltex' offices
  • traditional EFTPOS devices for reading loyalty cards
  • MIfare RFID cards as loyalty cards

Running within one of the Dell servers was a crude and barely usable loyalty/rewards manager application that runs the whole thing. Here's what I mean:

ateilla.PNG

You're free to imagine what the rest of the application looks like. :)

The other dell server acts as a VPN server through which all the EFTPOS devices and the application server connect to. To cut the long story short, this setup was running smoothly for a total of 3 weeks before problems started popping up, mostly because VPN server did not have a static IP address and the EFTPOS devices could not connect. The developers refused to provide service to the system because Caltex Palawan does not want to shoulder the travel and boarding expenses of the developers (since it was just working 3 weeks).

We were called in at this point (we being a local tech solutions provider in Puerto Princesa), and we made the VPN server work, but other problems soon surfaced. The whole system was barely working for about 3 years when they finally decided they were fed up with the customer complaints they keep getting everyday. 

 

Our Solution

We studied the existing system for quite some time to examine where the problems we're coming from. The most obvious one we found was that because the servers were located inside Caltex Palawan's offices, the servers were prone to downtimes caused by power outages and internet connectivity problems. It was obvious that the better way would be a web-based solution that would always be online. We also wanted to replace the bulky and outdated EFTPOS devices with android based NFC device that are more portable, and easier to work with. We retained the cards that originally came with the system since there are thousands left unused, but eventually replaced them with NTAG stickers, and newer cards. To sum it up:

  • A web-based application to manage the loyalty / rewards system
  • Android based NFC device to read the loyalty cards
  • NTAG stickers to act as loyalty cards

 

ProcessWire to the Rescue

Having used ProcessWire before, it was our best choice, after considering using Laravel, and other frameworks, because of ProcessWire's key strengths:

  • all custom fields - no unnecessary bloat
  • powerful api
  • scalability

Although this straight up looks like it's been lifted from processwire.com's front page, but this really is the case, and these are all we need from a web-application framework to do almost anything!

All custom fields

Since we are working with a unique dataset, it's impossible for us to find anything out there that would have anything even remotely close to what we need. In the beginning we were planning to use custom database tables that we would deploy alongside ProcessWire. I even posted one time in the forum, asking if there's any way to integrate an ORM library with ProcessWire, and the answer I got was that it would be redundant, and almost surely unnecessary. And this turned out exactly the case! When we designed our database (using ERDs), we we're delighted at how closely we were able to replicate our relational design using templates, fields, and pages. This is mainly due to FieldtypePage. We were able to create meaningful relationships within our templates. We ended up with ~60 templates and ~70 fields.

Powerful API

About 70% of our code are API calls. The rest are just control structures and simple computations. That's how powerful the ProcessWire API is. So powerful that we did not even need to write a single sql query to complete the whole project. We needed to handle user login, API has it. Session handling, API has it. Selecting and manipulating huge amount of interrelated data, the API has it!

Scalability

At the onset of the project, the existing CLC program already has some 20 thousand members with hundreds of thousands of transactions. Right now, our current system has around 500,000 pages and counting and were not experiencing any slowdown.

 

How we used ProcessWire

The first thing that we decided that our client would not be able to see the processwire admin page. We wanted to present them with a simplified UI that does not present them with anything they don't need. We created a whole frontend UI for the client to use. We had custom forms for all the pages that they can create, and all the actions that they can do. We, on the otherhand, use the admin backend thoroughly in continuously developing, and supporting the system.

What the clients see vs what we see:

campaign.jpg

 

Our setup

  • ProcessWire 2.8 running on a LEMP stack
  • DigitalOcean droplet
  • AjentiV VPS manager

 

Modules we used

We used a very minimal amount of modules for the project:

  • ImportPagesCSV - to import the data migrated from the old system
  • FieldtypeDecimal - for all our decimal values
  • Modified RestHelper - from clsource for all the communication between ProcessWire and our android POS app
  • Modified PagesSum from esrch
  • ProcessSelectorTest - for quickly checking some selections

 

Things we had to do on our own

  • Frontend user login
  • Frontend password recovery
  • Fine-grained permission handling for users
  • Cron jobs for scheduled tasks.

The rest are API calls, and business logic. :)

 

The Result

Our Caltex Loyalty Club web application is now running on its sixth month without so much as a hiccup! Compared to the previous system that was averaging 200 transactions per day, we are now getting 800 and it's growing. We are running 10 campaigns and promos simultaneously across 18 Caltex Stations all over Palawan, with 30 android NFC terminals communicating to a single ProcessWire installation. We are very happy with ProcessWire in terms of performance, ease of use, and most importantly it's simple and yet very powerful functionality as a web-application framework even though it doesn't primarily market itself as one.

PS.

Also one of the best things we experienced while doing this project is the awesome, unparalleled community support. Throughout the project, although we had a lot of moments when we just couldn't figure out what to do, never once did we have to ask a question in the forum. A quick search here and there, and someone already helped someone else that faced the same problem we were having. It's almost as if people are being paid to diligently answer all the questions! We most of the time just had to like an answer that was already there! :) 

 

 

Screenshots and photos

forgot.PNGdashboard.PNGtransaction.PNGterms.PNGvoid.PNG

 

Android POS terminals and CSR training

12909660_10207307377257614_973889697722794909_o.jpg12891075_10207307376017583_918646796646999382_o.jpg12890892_10207307382977757_2100134475319292136_o.jpg12916205_10207307377857629_7081566298522870245_o.jpg

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful and functional site and a fantastic writeup - congrats and thanks!

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Thanks for sharing, gave me insight on how to implement some frontend-only user ideas.

I saw the frontend/admin screenshot before I knew what business CalTex was in,  and I thought that "Silver, Platinum, Lubricants and Diesel" was an odd set of fieldnames. :lol: Now it makes sense!

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