In our stores around the state, we constantly study how a shopper moves through our aisles and selects products on display. In order to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers, we move things around and optimize the shopping experience to keep it fresh, relevant, and fun for the people who shop our stores. The same is true online. Our H-E-B Digital team rolls out innovative new user experiences and interfaces consistently while using what we know about our customers shopping habits to optimize the online shopping experience.
In fact, even though the grocery shopping experience is constantly evolving from traditional in-store shopping to online ordering for curbside pickup or home delivery, at the heart of it all, its core offering remains the same and so does our customers’ behaviors and shopping habits.
That’s where Functional Programming comes into play to help keep things in order. According to Matt Rasmussen, Vice President of Engineering, Functional Programming “is building applications using mathematical functions. That’s really the simplest way to describe it. At H-E-B, it comes down to how we define what we build.” As Matt likes to say: “you have to be kind of crazy to love Functional Programming,” but it’s just that kind of out-of-the-box ingenuity that keeps our Digital teams innovative.
Understanding the Digital Stack
Before investigating how exactly H-E-B Digital applies Functional Programming to its business, it’s worth noting how a digital stack operates. The User Interface serves as the highest level and is the front of the house of any user experience. It gives us access to whatever it is we need to get done. One step below that lies the Application Level, where the business logic that powers the user interface lives. At the Application Level, software engineers can build the rules for programs, modify them, and ultimately control them. The final level is Core Services. The behind-the-scenes core services include things like inventory, pricing, and product information. This critical information serves as the platform for building a system and applying any kind of business rules to applications. It’s at this level where we see Functional Programming start to make an appearance.
Adding Functional Programming to the Mix
For information to be accurate, it needs to be controlled and gated. You want rules built around this core data that the enterprise agrees upon. For example, you don’t want anybody going in and changing things without oversight — such as your prices or your inventory. That means that when an engineer does something within a contained function, they can’t change anything outside that function. “Everything is self-contained by design, ensuring that things don’t go wrong,” Matt states.
How H-E-B uses Functional Programming
As Matt shared with us, “There aren’t a lot of enterprises that are using Functional Programming in the way that we’re using it to build out our services.” For years, our Digital division has poured countless time and investment into building a team filled with forward-thinking innovators. Now, H-E-B Digital is expanding its team of technological trailblazers. We highly encourage those interested in using their Functional Language skills in a uniquely commercial environment to apply to positions at H-E-B Digital. Come join us on our digital journey, as we continue to make the lives of Texans better – our tech feeds Texas!