City Weekly is a Utah-based publication company. You'll find news, reviews, ads, and offers catering exclusively to Utahns, on their website. This is made possible by partnering with a long list of channel partners who make the website a great platform for Utahns to stay updated.
Apart from news and reviews, their channel partners help local businesses advertise on the platform, which helps both customers and businesses in the area. Customers could easily buy vouchers and coupons from City Weekly and redeem them at their respective stores.
The business model at City Weekly was helpful and convenient for Utahns until the pandemic hit.
For almost a decade, City Weekly along with its channel partners had helped create a platform for businesses to reach more customers through vouchers, coupons, and other promotional offers.
One major advantage that businesses had using City Weekly was the opportunity to advertise their offers without any upfront costs to publish them. As customers purchase these vouchers from the platform, a percentage of the amount will be taken by the platform.
While the platform was still useful to the community, they quickly realized some major flaws in the system that could seriously affect their business.
- City Weekly found a major bottleneck in its existing model: it significantly reduced the merchant's involvement in the advertising process. In the existing system, merchants could only provide the ads to their channel partners who then published them on their page on the City Weekly platform.
- The platform wasn't designed for scalability; it was built over a decade, with much of its offerings limited to the initial model of channel partner tie-ups.
- Their legacy platform had very limited functionality coupled with a back-office that handled all the new merchant requests. Tasked with adding merchants, managing their inventory, and adding individual store locations, the system was dated and required some very needed updates.
With a decade-old model slowly phasing out in its effectiveness to help local businesses in their advertising efforts, City Weekly was ready for a major update.
We were tasked with three main challenges that could potentially pivot the platform into a much more user-friendly system for both merchants and users.
- We needed to transform the existing channel partner-customer system into a clearly defined merchant-customer platform where customers could interact with merchants directly.
- Setup a feature-rich merchant portal, user portal, and a strong back office to connect merchants to customers effortlessly.
- Create a customer credit system where users could easily buy store credits and redeem them at the store of the customer's choosing.