7 min readOct 14, 2019


In our recent article “How Work Is Really Done at ABOUT YOU Tech” we promised that you will get to know our teams & processes better. Today is the day! We invite you to meet the CRM TECH Circle — the team is part of the Business Intelligence & Customer Relationship Management Unit at ABOUT YOU.

What are Units & Circles

Teams are called Units and Circles here at ABOUT YOU. Units are divided into small circles each with their own specific objective. Every circle acts as a fast agile startup — changing the size and focus when needed. This allows us to flexibly deal with ongoing changes and new challenges.

About the Team

CRM Tech — currently there are 6 different nationalities & languages represented: German, Russian, Syrian, Canadian, Italian, Spanish & Pakistani

General Mission

The CRM Tech Team looks to increase customer lifetime value through smart customer reactivation. Ideally, the reactivation should take place providing the right content at the right time to the right person. Targeting the customer via email, push notifications, onsite placements in our online shop, parcel goodies and print advertisements makes it significantly cheaper than other online marketing measures.

What the Team works on

To give you an idea of what kind of topics the team generally works on we put together some current & future tasks here.

At the moment the team mainly works on the following topics:

  • The efficient integration of streaming data. This means turning customer interactions in our online shop e.g. adding products to the basket, price changes in the basket, availability changes of items in the customer’s wishlist, into actionable triggers for email campaigns and send-out of push notifications.
  • Improving the push notification send-out procedure, for our iOS and Android optimized app, with rich media content and an intuitive query builder for complex segment building. Segments could be the following:
  1. People of certain demographics with high customer lifetime value, but also high churn risk at the same time, who haven’t interacted with the latest onsite reactivation and ignored the last mail.
  2. Customers who bought clothing for children of a certain age. By this time the kids would potentially need shoes of a bigger size. As they grew out of the previous one.
  3. Customers who order higher-priced items and have a low return rate.

In general, the team strives to make it easy to build segments overall purchases, onsite tracking events, product metadata, data the customer stated about themselves, calculated/derived customer data, send out history and reaction, so that our campaign managers, automated systems and brand advertising partners can easily use this to point their advertisement in the right direction. The segmentation is based on the highly scalable Google BigQuery Data Warehouse Technology.

  • Extend reporting and AB-Test functionalities. A/B Test can vary from testing different subject lines, send out timings, template designs against each other over voucher types and values to customized content (e.g. sale affinity vs premium affinity).
  • The latest and biggest achievement of the team is the custom tool for complex segment building and personalized content called the CRM Next Tool. By now, the tool is used by ten to twelve people in the company. The new tool has several helpful functionalities: Campaign building, segmentation, channel selection (Push, Mailing, …) — this is a massive help for our campaign managers that send around 5 Million push notification and more than 4 Million. mailings a week.

Tech Stack

  • High traffic APIs with 8-digit requests per day
  • Contacting millions of customers via email, push notifications, print and OnSite channels e.g. brand advertisement placements on article overview page or article detail page on our shop’s pages for our partners which fit customer needs, e.g. right washing detergent, updates about shipment status and size reminder, birthday vouchers — Anything which is fitting the current context and state of a customer while being in our shops.

The CRM tech circle is a very tech diverse circle. We develop APIs that are directly called from the shop front-end, thus need to scale with high traffic and respond within a few milliseconds.

On the processing side, we want to do complex segmentations and have reliable and stable data processing. We also develop a front-end tool, which is used internally and should be easy and efficient to work with.

For all parts, we work with TypeScript and we deeply care about strict type definitions to avoid errors and enrich the development experience.

We love the guidance an IDE can provide on a properly typed codebase.

For our real-time APIs, we use fastify as a low-overhead framework, providing personalized onsite content for the shop in a few milliseconds. We heavily utilize Redis and an InMemory SQL engine to evaluate campaigns on the fly.

For our back-end processes, we use TypeORM to work with relational databases and heavily rely on queues to get the job done. We scale on demand to be able to send out millions of newsletters i.e. while the ABOUT YOU shop is featured in a TV commercial. Google Big Query is the Data Warehouse technology of our choice, which helps us to find the most relevant content for our customers.

On the front-end we use React and MobX for effective and powerful state management, connectected to a simple NestJS back-end.

We believe in strong monitoring, logging and instrumentation using Graylog, NewRelic and Datadog to get as many insights into our processes as possible. And to help tracking down potential issues, which obviously never happens ;).

Development Approach

The CRM Tech Circle works according to Scrum. They focus on dividing the existing features into smaller, less complex components that are easy to maintain. An integral part of their process is a stand up every morning. Besides this, they have regular meetings, planings & retrospectives. In general, the team focuses on reliability and performance, easy to understand code and a reasonable level of abstraction. If any questions are left open there are Q&A sessions between the leads and the developers.

The Team at there Sprint planning

Company Context & Dependencies to other Teams

The strongest dependency link is between the CRM Tech Circle and the CRM Channels Circle, who create CRM campaigns and continuously optimize them. Another dependency can be found in the online marketing sector because in general, there is a common interest in addressing customers as cost-effectively as possible. From a tech perspective, the CRM Tech Circle has a lot of touchpoints with other applications, since they need data from them, for example, order histories, current product data or customer service records.

The Team Leads

We are convinced that the best products are not developed alone. That’s why we don’t rely on one person to lead our Tech Teams, but on two. The leads of the BI/ CRM Unit are Robert as the Technical Lead & Nikita as the Product Lead.

Nikita — Product Lead

How’d he get started at ABOUT YOU:
Noticed how much fun data analysis was for him while doing a paper for university & was then looking for a student job in that field — which he found at About You.

What did he do before working at ABOUT YOU:
Nikita worked in 3D VFX and video production as a teenager. He founded his own company with friends and developed a game for the PS3. During his student days, he worked on projects at BCG and Nielsen.

Robert — Tech Lead

How’d he get started at ABOUT YOU:
Robert came to AY as Interim Lead for the Desktop Shop. He got very enthusiastic about the company started working at AY permanently.

What did he do before working at ABOUT YOU:
Before working at AY Robert had a small software agency in Darmstadt with start-ups and larger companies as customers.

Did the topic and team sound interesting to you? If you would like to contribute and become part of the team, please check the currently vacant position:

  • Node JS Developer

You can apply directly via our Corporate Page!




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