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Client Story

Building A Successful E-Commerce Start Up With A Real Estate Innovator

PenguinPickup – From Concept to Consumer in 12 weeks


When Canada’s largest developer and operator of shopping centres, SmartCentres, first approached TechBlocks, they were looking for an agile IT solutions firm that could deliver a highly customized system in a very short turnaround. SmartCentres had identified a real need in the marketplace for a new type of service that would revolutionize how consumers shopped online.

This new service would disrupt the traditional supply chain and would provide traditional retailers and e-commerce stores with a solution to reduce delivery costs, improve customer experience and at the same time help SmartCentres create a new revenue stream. This became Penguin Pickup.

With their existing IT department occupied managing the infrastructure and applications of their existing line of businesses, they were not able to commit the time or effort required to build the solution that this new pilot project would require. The solution would have to be highly customized and include a data warehouse, web application, POS scanners, as well as a new website. After a meeting with TechBlocks, SmartCentres was confident that not only did they find a consulting firm that could build and deliver the solution required in an aggressive time frame, but also a true technology and business partner to provide guidance and advice at every stage of the process.

  • Body-Egil-Nielsen-Smartcentres
    “We have been very pleased working with TechBlocks. TechBlocks is able to deliver high-quality go-to-market solutions within a very short time frame and they are competitively priced. Most importantly, the dedication of the TechBlocks team to our success is unrivaled. They offer excellent advisory and customer service and continue to be a valued partner of SmartCentres. In fact, we are currently partnering with them in additional areas of our IT portfolio.”
    Egil Moller Nielsen SVP SmartCentres

Solution Definition

SmartCentres worked with TechBlocks to define the business model and define the solution required to support their needs. Based on the business model of PenguinPickup, TechBlocks identified the need for two separate solutions, and they needed it ready to go live in 10 weeks. We identified the need for two separate solutions.

1. Front End Website for Customers

  • Responsive website design that would be accessible from desktop, tablet and mobile browsers
  • Allow new users to register and login using social profiles such as Facebook
  • Support secure sign-up for custom sign-ups on
  • Send email or text notifications to customers when packages are received

2. Application for Back Office and Operations

  • Role-based access to site content based on user profiles and login details
  • Generate unique address code for users for the PPU location they selected
  • Receive packages and update the system with the package status
  • Auto-update the inventory database with data from e-sign tablet for package pick up

Planning & Scope Definition

  • Complete website architecture
  • Sitemap and use cases
  • Complete solution architecture
  • Store inventory management solution
  • API specifications, allowing retailers to easily add PenguinPickup to their ecommerce sites

Focus on Customer Experience

Techblocks defined the user experience for both customer and PenguinPickup employees.

  • Complete persona identification, wireframes and user flows
  • Mock-ups, HTML5 and CSS3 Designs
  • PenguinPickup user experience

Prototype & Validate

The goal of developing the prototype was to validate the solution architecture, as well as verify that all devices and systems were working together. The performance and stability that needed to be validated were:

  • Microsoft Azure to host a responsive mobile website and SQL databases
  • Twilo for SMS for notifications to customers
  • 3Scale to build the API allowing retailers to easily add PenguinPickup as a delivery address

Testing The Solutions In The Real World

It was time to take the developed applications for a real-world simulation test under the harshest possible conditions. The TechBlocks and SmartCenters teams worked together to ensure rigorous testing of the solutions before the anticipated release in two weeks.

  • User experience testing & validation
  • Functional testing
  • Performance testing
  • Mobile device and cross-browser compatibility testing
  • Security testing
  • Scalability


From beginning to end TechBlocks employed an agile delivery method, allowing for a highly collaborative, loyal partnership. Not only was TechBlocks able to meet the aggressive target of building the solution within 10 weeks but they were also able to deliver the project under budget.

  • Elliot
    “TechBlocks ability to deliver such a customized solution within an extremely aggressive deadline was a huge contributor to the success of PenguinPickup. Partnering with them meant the SmartCentres’ IT department didn’t have to re-prioritize our workload or manage any of the challenges which came up during the build and allowed the business to focus on the other requirements to bring PenguinPickup to the market.”
    Elliott de Launay Manager, IT Business Analysis

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