Larsen & Toubro (L&T) is one of the largest and most respected companies in India’s private sector headquartered in Mumbai. With more than 80 years of strong customer focus and a continuous quest for quality, L&T is viewed as a world-class leader across Technology, Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing. In March 2022, it launched L&T-SuFin, an integrated e-commerce platform for B2B industrial products and services that empowers mid-sized and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to source industrial supplies cost-effectively across India.
The L&T-SuFin platform includes a wide selection of industrial products encompassing more than 50 categories to connect buyers and sellers, providing greater transparency and market access. Designed to be a highly secure platform, L&T-SuFin onboards sellers and buyers after verifying their KYC documents and guarantees a last-mile delivery to over 21,000pin codes. L&T-SuFin also provides financing options which is enabled through a gamut of products like Overdraft, Term Loan, Invoice Discounting, Vendor & Dealer Financing, Equipment Financing from multiple lending partners.
All the features of buying, selling, finance and logistics are integrated into one easy-to-use platform. While the seamless solution offers convenience for users, the complex data management needs required a robust, resilient and scalable data platform offering privacy and security, which MongoDB's developer data platform has helped solve.
The Indian manufacturing ecosystem has faced supply chain inefficiencies which have resulted in challenges including business continuity, revenue ,and inventory optimization, and labor deployment.
Creating an integrated platform with broad capabilities and transaction volumes presented architectural and engineering challenges for L&T-SuFin’s developer team. Flexibility was the key to creating a game-changing platform. Since there had never been anything like it previously, the ability to add features and functions based on customer needs was essential.
The platform includes around 2,220 products and 300,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) in over 50 categories, with approximately 25,000 buyers and 25,000 sellers using the platform. From the beginning, they needed an agile and scalable solution that would be able to keep up with ongoing changes. At the same time, the lean development team was managing the database in-house, which required time and resources.
As Niraj Davangeri, L&T-SuFin’s Head of Data Architecture & Technology Operations, explained, “When we started modeling business processes around our relational database, we realized many things were very uncertain. For example, we wanted integrated logistics as part of the journey for buyers. But we also wanted the option of offering logistics as a stand-alone service. These flip-on, flip-off switches presented data storage and modeling issues. We realized that this would lead to data migration and data fix issues that would only grow over time.”
Niraj added: “Given the diversity of our business, plus scalability requirements, it made a lot of sense to move to a document-oriented database such as MongoDB.”
Niraj Davangeri, L&T-SuFin’s Head of Data Architecture & Technology Operations
In early 2020, they moved seamlessly to Azure and MongoDB Atlas. Atlas offers the full power of MongoDB in a managed service and the team decided it would be the best solution for scaling and continuously updating features and functions.
Atlas offers the full power of MongoDB in a managed service and the team decided it would be the best solution for scaling and continuously updating features and functions
Moving to MongoDB has enabled the team to move faster and more efficiently. Niraj noted, “To cater to the fast-evolving business requirements, we needed a database that could help accelerate the database design aspects and thus ensure a faster development turn-around. The schema-less nature of MongoDB was a key factor and its ability to adapt to the relational nature of the transactions was very helpful. Also, retrofitting new application features with older data setups was necessary and this was quick and easy with MongoDB,” he said.
To alleviate the uncertainty around the growth and fluctuations in traffic volume, L&T-SuFin uses MongoDB’s auto-scale feature.
Regarding the decision to use MongoDB Atlas as a fully managed service, Nabarun Sengupta, Head of Technology for L&T-SuFin, reinforced the value of freeing up developer time to focus on introducing new features and less time managing L&T-SuFin’s complex architecture. “You need the expertise and people to manage such infrastructure. We were aware of the challenges of maintaining a complex cluster, so Atlas made perfect sense for us,” he said.
Now practically, the entire application is running off MongoDB. Among the many features L&T take advantage of is MongoDB's native ACID Transactions which helps guarantee a database will be in a consistent state after running a group of operations. Full text search capabilities are now achieved from within the Atlas platform without the need for ETL (extract, transform, load) or managing separate infrastructure.
Nabarun Sengupta, Head of Technology for L&T-SuFin
Using MongoDB has made it possible to scale and improve the L&T-SuFin platform quickly. Since its soft launch, 30% to 40% of the platform has been rewritten or reimagined. Something that would have been almost unthinkably complicated if they had stayed with PostgreSQL. To meet the demands of the market, that process continues.
Bhadresh Pathak, Chief Executive at L&T-SuFin, highlighted the potential of the project: “As India continues to grow towards becoming a $5 trillion economy, there is a huge opportunity and requirement to digitize supply chains and help small and medium enterprises become even more competitive on the global stage. The work we're doing with our technology partners, like MongoDB, is helping us bring about this new era for Indian businesses."
Now, as the L&T-SuFin platform grows and improves, it will continue transforming the B2B marketplace for industrial products as well as providing working capital from a large array of banks and other financial institutions at attractive rates. It is making it easier for businesses in smaller cities to access the products and services they need, creating a level playing field and inclusive growth for all businesses.
The online transaction facility for trading products and enabling services with a payment and settlement mechanism will aid traditional enterprises to take on their newer digital-native competitors.
It’s still early days, but this is all paving the way for L&T-SuFin’s expanding development team to look at other elements, including mobility and search, and how to make full use of MongoDB Atlas to scale, and deliver on their long-term technology goals.