Software Development

How URBN engineers developed this new mobile authentication process

The fashion and ecommerce company updated its account login system, requiring cross-team collaboration.

Throwback: The Philly Tech Week 2013 Signature Event at URBN HQ.

(Photo by Neal Santos)

Everyone’s experienced the frustration of being locked out of an account because of a forgotten username or password. Engineers at URBN are trying to change that for their users.

Andy Rudi, senior manager of UI engineering, and Bala Kalyatpanoli, senior manager and platform architect, presented about the Navy Yard-based fashion and ecommerce company’s new mobile authentication project at the Developers Conference during Philly Tech Week 2022 presented by Comcast.

Before this project, users would manually enter an email and password to log into their account on URBN’s websites. According to Kalyatpanoli, the tech team wanted to implement an easy-to-remember, mobile-friendly credential across all of URBN’s brands, both online and in stores.

Now, URBN requires a mobile number before registering a new account, but does not prompt the user to create a password. It then requires verification of the mobile number by sending a one-time passcode to the customer’s mobile device via a vendor called TeleSign. The site validates the passcode, providing access to the account.

Sound simple?

Kalyatpanoli said this project required major changes in backend services and UI, and therefore, major collaboration between departments. The technologies used for this project — all hosted on Google Cloud Platform — include Python Tornado-based RESTful microservices, Python Celery-based event processors, MongoDB and Firestore databases, Google Pub/Sub and AWS queues and topics, and Cloud Run and serverless services.

“It was a project that made the whole team work together in a big way and was a major success,” Kalyatpanoli said. “From an engineering teams perspective, this was a big win for us.”

Watch their full presentation for a detailed review of the technologies involved in the project and how it all came together:


Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-
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