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Implementation of Basic Chat
Founded in 1839 and headquartered in Oslo, Sweden, Schibsted is a family of digital brands leading the way across media, online marketplaces, and technology ventures. Today, Schibsted is one of the Nordic region’s most prominent companies with press/media brands such as VG, Aftonbladet, Aftenposten, and SvD. Schibsted also encompasses some of Europe’s leading marketplaces, including Blocket, Finn, Tori, and Oikotie, connecting millions of users every month.
Sendbird lets us think how do we do this. Not can we do this. We don't have to think about developing chat anymore. Instead, we build on top of it.
Schibsted’s search for a third-party chat API began due to internal restructuring. For Schibsted’s Swedish marketplace solution, Blocket, its previous in-house chat was moved to another part of the company. In the face of this restructure, Gustav Nordlund, Engineering Manager at Blocket, explains that there were various options, the first being to “make a ‘clone’ of the previous solution and maintain it, as it was initially developed in-house, and very tailored to our needs.” However, Nordlund continues that “it was also quite limited when we saw that our needs were changing” as Schibsted continued to expand, “we built that whole solution around an assumption that things work in a very specific way, and it catered quite well to us at the time, but when we saw our growth, we knew we needed something more dynamic.”
Well-functioning and robust messaging is a core need for a marketplace. Schibsted recognized that chat was becoming a greater commodity, thus continuing to dedicate time and resources to build and maintain chat was inefficient. Instead, Schibsted sought to deliver an innovative and engaging messaging experience for both buyers and sellers on the platform via third-party API.
For a marketplace to thrive, strong communication between buyers and sellers is paramount. As such, a seamless and well-working chat solution was a baseline requirement for Schibsted. This includes features such as push notifications, online status, read receipts, image sharing, and more. “We needed it to be flexible enough that we could build and decide how chat should work specifically,” says Nordlund. While Schibsted is currently focusing on one-on-one chat, Nordlund explains that a chat vendor would need “to support potentially other types of conversations as well, such as group channel messaging.”
However, the freedom to concentrate on needs beyond chat and focus more specifically on the marketplace itself was just as important of a consideration. Nordlund states, “we didn’t want to spend time on maintaining the basic functionality of chat. That kind of stuff is what users expect. We want to build great things on top of such a solution, such as integrations with our specific marketplace needs. That’s how we found Sendbird.”
Additionally, with the sheer number of users on Schibsted, scale and latency were top priorities. As one of the largest companies in Europe, Schibsted’s chat solution needed to scale with its ever-growing user base and the hundreds of thousands of conversations every day. With the enormous amount of activity moving through the platform, a chat solution “that could handle the huge levels of users and traffic” was vital. Nordlund elaborates that “Sendbird was definitely able to handle it, so we were thinking about other parts of the company that could also use advanced messaging in the future. We estimated the probable maximum number of users we could have and would be feasible, and Sendbird was up to that task.”
Finally, adhering to General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) was a must-have as a European-based company. “We needed a service that would let us have our data centers in Europe, along with specific privacy and security concerns that the solution needed to fulfill,” says Nordlund. With Sendbird’s data center presence in 9 global regions, including Frankfurt, Germany, “Sendbird checked all the boxes.”
Today, total sales on Schibsted’s Blocket platform alone are equivalent to 15% of Sweden’s total GDP, with approximately 5 million visits a week, and over 2 million active users per month.
The implementation of basic chat was completed quickly in just one month, with time spent building functionality on top of chat during the months following. “Sendbird lets us think how do we do this? Not, can we do this?” says Nordlund. “It’s flexible that any challenge we’ve had to deal with so far, or any new type of feature we’ve had to introduce has been possible and straightforward. We don’t have to think about developing chat anymore. Instead, we build on top of it.”
Following implementation of Sendbird, customer satisfaction, adoption, and retention was tracked closely and remained high.
In regards to security, trust, and maintaining integrity of the marketplace experience for users, strong moderation over Schibsted’s buyer-seller ecosystem was necessary. “One of the features we appreciate the most and utilize the most is Sendbird’s webhook support. It essentially allows us to be aware of almost everything that happens in chat and react and take action against bad actors and scammers quickly,” explains Nordlund. “Moderating conversations to ensure they’re safe is very important to us and something we’ve worked closely with Sendbird to enable.”
With Schibsted’s top prioritization of its chat tools for millions of users, the company needed reliable SLAs, support, and strong collaboration. Nordlund concludes that Schibsted and Sendbird “are partners, and work well together creating something great.”