Complex Networks’ Sole Collector App Achieves 50K+ Downloads
Complex Networks worked with Very to design and build Sole Collector, a one-stop-shop app for sneaker enthusiasts.
Software Engineering, Product Design, Mobile App Development
React Native, Typescript, Node.js, PostgreSQL, AWS, Elastic
Complex Networks is a global youth entertainment network with unparalleled reach to millennials and Gen Z across big pop culture categories including streetwear and style, food, music, sneakers, and sports.
In just 10 months, Very partnered with Complex Networks to design and build the Sole Collector mobile app, a one-stop-shop for collectors and enthusiasts to build curated sneaker collections and buy shoes from participating retailers — plus stay on top of sneaker news, entertainment, and upcoming release dates.
CTO & HEAD OF PRODUCT, COMPLEX NETWORKS
Complex Networks had the idea for the Sole Collector app for years. With a large audience of shoe collectors and a long list of partners who sell collectible shoes, the company wanted a way to better serve collectors and help their partners generate revenue.
They envisioned a mobile marketplace app where users could easily find the sneakers they wanted in the right size and at the best price, aggregating data from all of Sole Collector’s verified retailers into one place. The app needed to have an intuitive, modern design to meet the high expectations of tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z’ers.
When Aleksey Baksheyev, CTO and Head of Product at Complex Networks, began looking for a development partner to help design and build the app, he chose Very because of our deep experience in the areas of eCommerce design & development.
“They were asking the right questions and recommending the right things right off the bat,” Aleksey says.
Very began the Sole Collector app project with a Technical Design Sprint, where our engineering and design leaders met with Aleksey’s team to understand the app’s users, define KPIs, prioritize features, map the user flow, and perform competitive analysis — looking at similar eCommerce apps on the market to establish Sole Collector’s value prop and differentiators.
Next, Very’s designers crafted user-friendly, high-fidelity prototypes to guide the development process. The engineering team chose React Native for the mobile app so that Sole Collector could eventually support the application across multiple platforms.
Working together to build the app, engineers from Very and Complex Networks used TypeScript to write the server-side APIs and content ingestion engines (for aggregating marketplace inventories and Complex media like podcasts and videos). They are run on server-side Node and PostgreSQL on a custom/self-managed AWS stack.
One of the biggest challenges the engineering team conquered during the development process was accessing data from different vendors. All of the retailers used different marketplaces that had different ways of handling the data, but the team needed to integrate all of it into a central data model to reference in the Sole Collector API.
The team solved this problem by building microservices to aggregate from a diverse set of architectures and data models. They were able to create a directory of products to unify offers, with the ability to show users which reseller offers a shoe in the collector’s specific size, for example.
When asked about what the development process with Very was like, Aleksey shared, “It didn’t feel like outsourcing. It felt like Very became an extension of my team.”
In particular, Aleksey added that he and his team appreciated Very’s rigorous structure and follow-through on established processes, which led to the high quality of the work delivered. He valued individual team members’ attention to detail, creative thinking, and overall level of expertise in their respective fields — from project management to UX/UI, to front-end development. Most of the time, he said, the Complex Networks team could give Very’s engineers a general outline of a problem, and the team would devise innovative ways to solve it.
Aleksey was also impressed by our team’s no-nonsense approach, remarking that Very teammates were positive, straightforward, respectful, and open to constructive criticism.
After launch, something cool happened...
APP STORE DOWNLOADS
Since its launch, the Sole Collector mobile app has reached more than 50,000 downloads and more than 40,000 clicks for Complex Networks’ partners.
The app operates as a one-stop-shop for sneakerheads to search for the shoes they want — even if they’re no longer in production — since many verified resellers on the app offer them in various sizes. The Sole Collector backend API aggregates these "marketplace" inventories to provide a single source to browse available products/sizes. The app links out to the vendor for actual purchase via affiliate links, enabling Complex Networks to generate revenue. Users can also create custom collections of their favorite shoes and share them with others.
Additionally, users can explore all of Complex’s media content, which is monetized at multiple levels. For example, the app highlights the Sneaker Shopping video series (with preroll ads to generate revenue) and showcases products featured in each episode with affiliate purchase links.
The application adds value on the backend, too. From Complex Networks’ content management system (CMS), employees can:
- Easily bundle together different collections of sneakers/products and display them on the Sole Collector app and website.
- Add sponsorships and ads from the website into the app.
- Collect rich analytics on how users interact with Complex media — including which videos users watch, when people start and stop episodes, and if a user starts an episode but doesn’t finish it.
Overall, Aleksey says he and his team love the final product.
“If we hadn’t chosen Very, we wouldn’t have such a beautifully designed app,” Aleksey says. “I come from a design background myself, so I had high expectations for the UI and UX of the app. Very met and exceeded those expectations.”
Metrics are showing that the app’s users are fans, too. As of the writing of this case study, the app has a 4.9 out of 5 rating in the App Store.