Bringing an Ecommerce Startup to Life

eCommerce | Second Story Auctions

Joe and Laura Steele knew the downsides of off-the-shelf auction software firsthand. Confusing bidding. Painfully slow photo uploading. And sites that were nearly impossible to navigate on mobile. So when the couple decided to launch Second Story Auctions, an online estate auction company, they wanted to build a custom app to give their ecommerce startup a competitive advantage.


These startup founders chose Gaslight for our collaborative approach, and the project kicked off with four days of brainstorming and user story mapping. The entire team, including everyone from Gaslight designers and developers to Second Story Auctions leadership, gathered in one room. They talked through the app’s target users, key features and functionality, and other must-haves. This discovery work guided the entire 16-week build.

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Speed of Agile

16 weeks from project kick-off to fully functioning app

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Mobile First

1 in 3 site visits from a phone or tablet

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Early Success

Thousands of registered bidders in the first few months

Micro-interactions enhance the user experience with quick visual cues. A thumbs-up means you have the winning bid while a thumbs-down shows that someone outbid you.

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One high priority from those early meetings: Create a fully responsive design that delivers the same great user experience on desktop, mobile or tablet. It’s just as easy to browse antique furniture or bid on a vintage necklace on an iPhone as it is on a laptop. In general, the whole team focused on making everything intuitive and easy-to-use for an audience with a wide range of tech savvy.

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This same approach extended to the back office portion of the app where Second Story Auctions staff upload and categorize hundreds of images to launch new auctions. The ability batch upload images instead of adding them one at a time saves the team hours over off-the-shelf software options. Other key features: making it easy to reorder auction items and choose the hero photo for each item.

“Most developers build exactly what you tell them, but we didn’t know exactly what we needed. Gaslight made us part of the team, helped refine our concept and built something better than we first imagined.”

Joe and Laura Steele

Founders of Second Story Auctions

The development team put a huge emphasis on making the bidding process seamless. With new bids coming in all the time, it was key that prices on the site go up instantly without users refreshing the app. The team addressed this challenge by creating a real-time data feed that pushes information to the app and instantly updates the displayed price of any auction item.

In just 16 weeks, Second Story Auctions went from concept to minimum viable product (MVP), and the startup launched its first public auction a few weeks later. How did the project move so fast? The Gaslight team followed an agile development methodology. This meant a laser focus on the next most valuable software feature to build. The dev team also practiced continuous delivery, so the Second Story Auctions team was always testing new features. Then the software could be refined along the way based on this feedback.