To the pet owner, Koala’s new website feels invitingly simple, but that simplicity is backed with complex architecture and disciplined product management.
Mindful of a tight launch schedule, we began work on Koala’s e-commerce platform and brand expression while Koala was still building out their business. It was a hyper-collaborative process that required us to remain nimble and prioritize thoughtfully to achieve a product that could be utilized by customers in a mere few months, while also building a stable base on which the product could flourish for years to come.
We quickly learned just how complicated pet medication can be, with cascading factors like vet approvals, state-by-state pharmacy regulations, varying dosages and schedules, subscription management, order tracking, and payment processing. We worked alongside the Koala team as they developed their pharmaceutical offering, back office tooling, and business strategy. Working in lockstep was critical, as each week introduced new limitations and opportunities that impacted product development.
One of our greatest challenges was developing a rich e-commerce experience while the storefront’s content and capabilities were in flux. In search of smart, simple solutions for complex problems, we held many whiteboard and FigJam sessions with the team at Koala, diagramming our way through each hurdle. Hurdles such as: How can we store multiple variations on a product that were based on previously selected variations? How do we best design fully-typed, complex, multi-step forms in the checkout process? (We wrote a whole blog post about that last one.)
We established a coordinated system for the bulk of the engineering build. After the Upstatement team developed the architecture and data schemes (and the API specs), the Koala engineers reviewed the proposed plans and built the APIs while we tackled the front-end of the website.
With the goal of scaling quickly, every part of the tech strategy was established with long-term growth in mind. Next.js was our framework of choice, for its continued innovation in the React ecosystem and praised stability. (We even built a custom layout engine that can handle fetching global data server-side so that important information like user, cart, and pet information is available anywhere.) Everything was backed by TypeScript to ensure full end-to-end type safety for business logic. We paired this with Algolia to power a critical search experience and Stripe to power the e-commerce experience. We also made heavy use of Jest to perform unit testing on important business-related transactions.
Since launching, Koala has initiated their funding round and begun filling orders for a growing customer base that appreciates the painless transactions and reassuring aesthetics. We’re among those new customers. We’re proud to see the product thriving (and even prouder that some of our pets became official Koala models!).