Hackfest: 3 days, 27 teams, tons of new shop features coded
When Digitec Galaxus employees take part in our annual Hackfest, two things always take centre stage – fun and creativity. This year saw around 200 participants develop solutions for new shop features or improvements to our logistics process.
There isn’t a whole lot of time between Tuesday morning (post-breakfast) and Thursday afternoon, so our business engineers, software engineers, product designers and UX designers had to be speedy. After all, they needed to create a presentable result out of their rough ideas. Of course, the teams responsible for the Digitec and Galaxus online shops do this sort of thing on a day-to-day basis too. At Hackfest, however, it wasn’t quarterly targets and strategic focal points dictating what would be worked on. Instead, the 27 interdisciplinary teams invested their energy in projects they’d chosen themselves.
«Getting to do this is all the more motivating for our employees,» explains Tobias Quelle-Korting, Head of Product. He’s happy to give his team creative freedom – even more so when they’re working on specific improvements. These «hacks» often turn into «real» initiatives later, which then become visible to customers in the store. Alternatively, they work as solutions for simplifying internal processes.
After two and a half days, the highlight of Hackfest is the finale, which involves each team taking to the main stage to do a three-minute presentation of their idea and solution. The run up to the big finish? Hard work fuelled by 120 pizzas as well as hundreds of cans of El Tony Mate iced tea, Feldschlösschen and the occasional bottle of Von Salis wine – all companies which sponsored Hackfest. For the final showdown, desks in Digitec Galaxus’s Zurich West office are pushed aside to make room for the stage, audience and screen. Interested people from all over the company show up to watch.
Voice-assisted filter team bags special award from Digitec founders
Digitec founders Oliver Herren and Florian Teuteberg, now CIO and CEO on the Executive Board, are also at the event. As they’ve done every year since the first Hackfest was held in 2019, they award one team the Founders Prize.
This year, the award goes to a team that has come up with an alternative to the shop’s filter options. As the team point out in their presentation, the filters are helpful too, but they also involve a lot of clicking. Their solution? A voice-assisted search bar. In the demo, the voice input really does deliver the desired results.
CEO Florian Teuteberg is impressed. Reflecting on the voice-assisted technology in his car, he says he wishes it were as intelligent as that of the prototype put forward by the winning Hackfest team. For their prize, the four-person team walks away with cash and a gift voucher for a team event. They’re also given a fairly thick book entitled Access 2000. Serving as a sort of Hackfest trophy, this EDP (Electronic Data Processing) book will stay with the winning team until the next Hackfest. It originally belonged to Digitec’s founders, who built the first version of the online shop using Access, among other programs.
Audience Prize for Team Filter Ninjas
While the CEO and CIO are the only ones with a say in naming the Founders Prize winners, Digitec Galaxus employees get to decide who takes home the Audience Prize. After a close vote, Team Filter Ninjas leaves victorious. Like the winners of the Founders Prize, the team’s aim was to optimise the shop filter options. At its core, their idea was that customers shouldn’t just be able to filter search results based on what they want to see – they should also have the option of excluding certain options, for example particular brands when searching for a smartphone, or particular colours when searching for clothes. What may sound simple in theory presents a few design and usability challenges in practice. Even so, the winning team delivered some impressive work.
Here’s a glimpse at a few other Hackfest projects.
An end to printed queue numbers
How could our stores eliminate the need for printed collection numbers and save paper as a result? With a smartphone-based QR code scanning system.
Capturing the essence of all Community reviews
When a product on our shop has hundreds of reviews, how can our customers get a sense of what they’re saying? With an AI-based summary, which, if the user chooses, is also available in pirate speak.
Finding the right person
As the number of Digitec Galaxus employees increases, how can people who currently work here identify the person they need to contact? With a small tool that aggregates everything employees have posted on Confluence, in chats, or elsewhere, and infers who might know the most about a particular topic.
A thinking search filter
How can customers find the right product if the categories they’re searching produce too many results, even with filtering? With a dynamic comparison list drawing on data such as what other people using the same search filters have purchased.
Essential orders made easy
How can Galaxus- or Digitec customers make sure they’ve got regular supplies of toilet- or printer paper at home? With an intelligent watch list that gives you regular reminders. If you want, it’ll even put the product in your shopping cart and order it automatically.
Your order history at a glance
How can users who haven’t yet been active in the Community be encouraged to become involved? With entertaining, informative animated videos generated using the customer’s previous searches and purchases. The video would also show users how they could be even more active in the Community.
Making the shop (even) more fun
How can we make our customers feel even better when shopping on our platforms? It’s a given that better prices and product data would help with that. Team Micro Animations, however, had something else in mind. They put together a proposal for various actions customers can take when using the shop to be accompanied by cute little animations instead of static results.
Oh, before somebody asks in the comment section – no, nobody pitched dark mode. Not because none of the teams found the idea intriguing, but because specific work is already being done on the feature. As for its implementation, that’s already in the pipeline. In other words, what started out as a Hackfest idea has now turned into a standard project.
Has reading about all this made you want to work in one of our teams? Then check out what goes on in Product Development at Digitec Galaxus, take a look behind the scenes of our various departments or browse all of our current vacancies. You’ll also find more Hackfest content on social media (Twitter and Instagram) under the hashtag #Hackfest2023.
Journalist since 1997. Stopovers in Franconia (or the Franken region), Lake Constance, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Zurich. Father since 2014. Expert in editorial organisation and motivation. Focus on sustainability, home office tools, beautiful things for the home, creative toys and sports equipment.