Succes Story: Pets4Homes
Pets4Homes, which started in 2005 and was later acquired by Pet Media Group in 2019, is one of the most trusted pet marketplaces in the world, due to its stance on responsible practices and safeguarding animal welfare, reflected in the company’s stellar Trustpilot rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars and its work with many reputable animal charities and shelters across the UK.
The platform, available on desktop, iOS and Android, provides a safe, secure and trustworthy way for people to adopt animals from a number of categories, including dogs, cats, horses, fish and birds. To further build on their track record of animal welfare and safety, the platform also provides advice on pet health, veterinary care and other tips for adopting pets.
Securing the Pets4Homes transaction process
Pets4Homes connects buyers with responsible breeders across the United Kingdom, and do this safely it uses a secure payment system called Pets4Homes Deposit Service. This feature was a prominent part of the EBS development process and one of the key drivers for refactoring the platform.
Since the launch of the Pets4Homes Deposit Service, the company has boosted revenue by 50%.
This unique escrow service, which was adapted by EBS to handle much-needed additional functionality, including deposits, money management, refunds and invoicing, is a foundational element of the development. Pets4Homes and EBS keenly identified this as an integral part of bolstering and improving the reputation of the marketplace.
Additionally, the escrow service can scale to meet the demand of its parent company Pet Media Group’s worldwide footprint – users can now select from more than 40 different secure payment processors. As a result, it will be rolled out to all of Pet Media Group’s online marketplaces in the future. With a 100% success rate for payments, they can be confident in the security of their on-platform transactions. Because all payment flows and commission-based transactions are automated, the Pets4Homes team is empowered to focus on other areas of the business.
Using the service buyers can be verified and reserve any pet through the marketplace, before visiting the seller for collection and completing the transaction through the Pets4Homes payment gateway. The system also takes into account refunds if the need should ever arise, through a simple, streamlined process for dispute settlement.
Refactoring the code base for optimal stability
Due to the age of the platform, the code base, libraries and logic had significantly depreciated in quality. The vast majority of the platform’s architecture had to be overhauled in order to implement newer, more secure methods of transacting – the outdated system simply didn’t allow for it.
To do this, EBS conducted a thorough code review in order to ensure consistency in the design and implementation phases, while optimising the code for vastly improved functionality and performance. The EBS team identified several areas desperately requiring improvement, including a range of outdated libraries.
The code review was a foundational part of the project, enabling the EBS team to build a consistently solid foundation on which to validate and develop the features and functionality required by Pets4Homes. By maintaining a consistent code pattern, the EBS team were able to focus solely on those features without needing to go back over old ground and reanalyse the code after each iterative sprint.
Building a culture of trust and innovation
To kick off the project, EBS developed a range of in-depth workshops in order to better understand the project scope and business requirements. The EBS team, including all developers and the project manager, regularly met with the team at Pets4Homes for weekly workshops.
Through this workshopping process, EBS were able to design schemas and logic, while identifying potential risks to the development. In addition to this, it provided the framework for Pets4Homes to develop a greater understanding of the practicalities and feasibility of their plans for growth, and how that would factor into the platform development.
Before embarking on the Pets4Homes project, EBS had already delivered a project for another of Pet Media Group’s companies, Hästnet, a similar online platform for the Swedish equestrian market. Due to this existing relationship, Pets4Homes were versed in the nature of EBS’ development style, working practices, strategy and solutions design.
EBS implemented daily meetings between the internal and external teams to define and prioritise the project specification, requirements, budget and timeframe, while also setting best practices for the ongoing development of the Pets4Homes platform.
As EBS moved further into the development phase, after the complex code review and business analysis workshops, the team presented numerous solutions to Pets4Homes for refactoring the outdated and depreciated platform by making significant improvements to the existing code base in the highly-prioritised areas, such as payments, listings and messaging.
Chat functionality was one of the main areas of focus during development, and is end-to-end encrypted for additional security. The internal and external teams knew that it was vital to ensure users were safe and secure when messaging and transacting through the platform, so EBS developed functionality that encrypts the message payload as it is transmitted, stored, and retrieved.
As a result of this powerful chat feature and the efficiency and security it brings to the platform, users are now able to conduct transactions up to three times faster than before. Prior to this, it took almost a week to complete a transaction through the platform, whereas now transactions are completed between one and two days.
A pet marketplace fit for a Queen
In early 2021, the news broke that a member of the British royal family had used Pets4Homes to find a pet through a verified breeder listed on the site. The late Queen Elizabeth II, whose love for dogs is widely known, had reportedly selected a corgi before a member of the royal household made a transaction through the site in February 2021.
This story perfectly illustrates the ubiquity and reputation of the Pets4Homes platform, which has gone from strength to strength since EBS refactored the code and implemented a wealth of new features. All in all, upon delivery of the project, Pets4Homes received a highly functional, feature-packed system that serves millions of users, playing a significant role in Pets4Homes’ mission to protect animal welfare, providing a reliable place for people to learn about pet care all while protecting buyers and sellers in a secure, safe environment.