As part of The Startup Magazine founders interviews, we sat down with Senior Software Engineer Carson Lv, a team leader from CouponBirds, a growing e-commerce company specialising in coupon code services and advertising. Here are his insights on the development approach and challenges of building and maintaining a high-quality e-commerce site.
What is your job at CouponBirds?
I’m responsible for all kinds of developing requirements from front-end display to the server-end as well as coupon data processing. The front-end work is aiming at bringing excellent visual effects and using experience to CouponBirds users, while the back-end developing committed to present coupons to users in the most efficient and reasonable way. Data processing, on the other hand, is in order to improve the coupon accuracy and brand coverage at the same time. A full-stack engineer can describe my work at CouponBirds.
Let’s first look a bit at your company. Describe the CouponBirds.com product/service in 10 words or less:
Real-time coupons with best coupon quality.
In the online coupon industry, have you noticed any disruptive factors that make it so promising?
In the last five years, we witnessed a sustaining strong growth in e-commerce. Thousands more retailers and stores attach greater importance to online business. Gross merchandise volume of Online transaction keeps incredibly high in the past several years. E-commerce giants like Amazon keep stealing market share from brick-and-mortar competitors by converting consumers through online especially on mobile ends. Amazon has captured up to 50% of total online holiday sales this year and it was 22% back in the year 2014. Holiday online spending increased by 16.6% in 2018.
With the strong move to online spending, consumers opt to make their purchases on the web instead of waiting in line for hours and fighting the crowds in person. More online shopping means more coupon hunters for CouponBirds. Nowadays most coupons are digital distributing online and many are delivered to highly targeted audiences. Coupons are also very influential during the consumer decision journey. They can even help in building brand awareness and brand loyalty in the long term. A recent study from Valassis indicates 90% of consumers want to use coupons and deals during the buying process. All these trending factors make coupon industry promising more than ever.
What kind of advantages does building the CouponBirds site have that makes it unique from its competition?
I’d say coupon code auto verification is a great breakthrough for us, and it’s a significant feature that differs CouponBirds from other coupon sites. It could save a lot of human work and improve the efficiency of coupon publication process. Digital coupons are extremely time-sensitive. The abundance and validity of coupons have always been the emphasis and difficulty in our data processing.
Traditionally, coupon verification solely depends on manual work, and CouponBirds is no exception. However, as we cover more brands and more coupon codes, we need more effective ways to improve the efficiency of Coupon validation. So we adapt People plus Machine to speed up the coupon verification process. Based on a variety of parameters, we have higher accuracy than similar projects in terms of coupon reliability of each dimension.
Continuous improvement and optimization in the recommendation algorithm also make CouponBirds stand out among dozens of competitors. In the beginning, we recommended similar items inside webpages. Later we do the recommendation based on users’ interest. In addition, we provide users with more choices according to the characteristics of coupons. So far, we are still continually optimizing based on the user’s feedback. From our statistics, users’ clicks and conversion rates are highly improved after optimization.
Now more about you and your career path, what inspired you to become a Software Engineer?
I think it’s the opportunity of realizing my thoughts with the help of computers. It’s great fun, even if there are difficulties and bewilderment in the process of learning and applying computer science knowledge hierarchy to engineering work. I solve problems with my knowledge base and in the meantime, learn more from practice.
For example, how CouponBirds can provide outstanding visual and operational experience for users on different devices, while the content on every landing page needs to load as fast as possible.
The server end should provide a sufficiently stable service, and allow retrieve, filter and display live coupons from the database, and also record the user’s activities and feedback as the basis for later subsequent analysis and optimization in my team. On data processing, more attention is paid to uniforming coupons obtained by different channels, removing invalid and expired coupons. Every direction is worthy of in-depth study. To overcome such challenges makes me feel fulfilled. What’s more, I feel so proud of what I do when receiving thank-you messages and comments from online shoppers.
As your company is growing, what are the primary challenges you have as a developer?
As an engineer of CouponBirds, I believe the major challenge in CouponBirds continuous development is to improve the whole data-processing system so to provide best-quality coupons to users, from every aspect of pretreatment and terminal display. I hope that when users look for coupons while shopping, they can find the coupons they want very quickly. It’s even better when they are looking for coupon codes, the idea of opening CouponBirds comes to them at once. This is the biggest rewards to the team’s hard work! So bookmark CouponBirds from today!
And what is the most important thing you can tell other startup developers?
As a developer in a startup, I think these two points are very important.
(1). Maintain the enthusiasm to learn as much engineering technologies as possible, and be strict with yourself as a real full-stack engineer. Because sometimes, to solve problems requires a wide range of knowledge and skills. So it’s vital to learn and get to know new things and knowledge. Computer science is developing and changing quickly. Every day there are new advances in programming frameworks and Internet developing. For me, it is a very effective way to read books in related fields.
(2). Keep being sensitive to data. Regard user feedback from various channels as the guide for optimization. And keep your work closely related to user requirements, which helps you hold enthusiasm for the job.
Lastly, what is one interesting fact about you that people may not know?
People always think that programming emphasizes theoretical and logical strictness, and thus a programmer’s work is rather vapid and programmatic. In fact, this is not the case. We engineers also have many hobbies. For example, I like to sing, go to the gym, etc. Occasionally I go out climbing and experiencing the wonders of nature.
Absolutely, we all appreciate some diversion from our day-job, especially when working as a software engineer. Congratulations on your continued success at CouponBirds. And, thank you for lending your voice to The Startup Magazine.
More information about CouponBirds can be found here.