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Intern students help to narrow down the search for the perfect purchase

Two University of Sussex students have made it easier for customers to find their perfect product during a successful internship at an ecommerce supplier to some of the world’s biggest brands.

Master's students Yingjie Liu and Rohan Bhayana, from the university's School of Engineering and Informatics, used their eight week internships at Attraqt PLC to add new search functions to the company’s software.

The pair were able to make it possible for customers to search through customer reviews to ensure that the products they were thinking of buying, met their specific criteria and priorities.

Yingjie Liu said: “The biggest challenge we faced was the architectural design, I had to overturn my previous architecture twice before getting it right. My goal was to make the system simple and straightforward to use but with the addition of extra features, the system becomes more complicated.
“I really found a great benefit from the internship in honing my skills in a real business environment. My technical abilities were considerably improved during my time with Attraqt.
“Our efforts made a meaningful difference and for me, being a student who can make something valuable is a very fulfilling thing.”

Instead of trawling through scores of reviews to see if the product met their needs, Yingjie and Rohan’s upgrade allows shoppers to search for specific words or phrases used in scores of customer reviews as well as rank products based on one specific criteria referenced to within customer reviews.

The enhanced system allows customers to search for products to find the particular qualities they value the most, such as the level of waterproof protection of a coat, the warmth of a jumper or the value for money of the product, as well as identifying any issues customers had with the same product.

Attraqt CTO Peter Thomas said: “Working with the University of Sussex and the two research students was a great way to boost Attraqt’s R&D programme. The University made it easy to collaborate and the projects presented interesting and valuable results based on real-world data and the latest machine learning technology.”

The placement with Attraqt was established thanks to the university’s links with alumnus Luke McKeever, who is Chief Executive with the London-based firm.

Paul Roberts, Head of Business Engagement at the University of Sussex, said: “This is a great example of our new approach to consultancy which aims to instigate long term collaborative relationships that deliver benefits to students, faculty and companies.
“I am grateful for the referral from our colleagues in Development and Alumni Relations Office and for the work of Alex Silvestri, our Consultancy Manager, in instigating new exciting approaches. I look forward to the next stage of collaboration with Attraqt, which is already under discussion."

The business engagement team always welcome businesses to come forward and benefit from partnering and collaborating with the university.

If you are interested in working together with the university, please contact the consultancy manager Alessandro Silvestri on Alex.Silvestri@sussex.ac.uk or 01273 877 133.

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By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Wednesday, 27 November 2019