We live in a day and age where agile transformation is a must for any company that wants to grow its reach and expand into new markets. Being agile becomes even more important for businesses that activate in the online commerce industry, especially in highly-competitive niches.

This subject was thoroughly discussed in one of our recent webinars. During the event, our solution architects and program managers invited Basheer Shahul, Chief Architect from Essentra, to detail his experience as one of Tremend’s main clients.

Let’s dive deeper into some of the subjects discussed in this webinar and understand how you can upgrade your eCommerce platform leveraging the power of agile transformation.

The Catalyst of Essentra’s Story of Agile Transformation

Essentra is a UK-based company specialized in providing essential components and solutions. They have over 85k commercial and industrial customers all across the globe. Their services include manufacturing and distribution of plastic injection moldings, metal items, printed foils, blister packs, and filters for tobacco products.

Essentra needed a strategic partner that would enable them to offer a seamless customer proposition and to deliver their services through a single global platform. They wanted to offer a hassle-free customer experience using a global platform that has the ability to support regional languages and is optimized for search engines.

Because of our previous vast experience in eCommerce integration & implementation solutions and agile enterprise transformation, Essentra decided to partner up with us for this behemoth project. Additionally, Essentra was looking for a company with a proven track record delivering large-scale integration projects for multinationals, and with expertise in eCommerce projects.

Migrating to a Modular Platform from a Legacy One

Essentra took our experts’ advice and switched over to a modular platform. Doing that enabled them to cut down costs, add multiple new components and third-party products, and adopt an improved microservices architecture. The upgrade enabled Essentra to transform their platform into a global marketplace and sell to people from different countries in their own languages.

In Essentra’s case, the legacy platform came with a very clunky website. Customers were complaining that they couldn’t find products easily enough on the site, and the marketing team was having a hard time ranking their products organically.

The new platform we created was optimized for desktop and mobile users and offered a higher degree of findability for non-branded terms.

The Approach to Upgrade your eCommerce Platform

In Essentra’s case, we used proven business and technical principles to upgrade the platform to a modular one.

First off, we started the discovery phase with a set of business requirements. Our goal was to focus on the multi-site, multi-session, multi-language, and multi-catalog aspects. All of these aspects were required by Essentra from the get-go. The client wanted these to be served from a single domain name and a single platform.

We were also SEO focused and were required to create a full-stack CMS and eCommerce functionality. The new solution was supported as much as possible by an open-source code, which included a fast-discovery process based on Java and the Spring Framework.

The new platform has a modular architecture that uses a reduced variety of technology stack and has a multi-layer UI composition. This includes dynamic caching, decoupled & pluggable UI, and a unique blend of microservices and modules.

This unique modular architecture was specially designed to be scalable and to be plug-and-play. Basically, using this model, you can quickly use other types of components and design a microservices system that includes all the aspects of the eCommerce value chain: production operations, catalog management, warehouse operations and customer service.

Essentra’s new architecture is easier to test and has a more streamlined UI. The UI presentation layer is able to fully cache the product page, leveraging a reverse proxy layer to dramatically increase loading speed, fix dynamic content areas of the page and offer a more streamlined navigation experience to both new and existing site visitors.

The Technical Part of the Upgrade

So how did Tremend manage to perform the upgrade? After setting up the initial technical considerations and business requirements, adopting open-source technologies and going with Java across all modules in order to reduce the variety of the technologies, we also took into consideration team strengths and weaknesses, together with the established industry patterns to accelerate development. 

In the long run, this enabled Essentra to benefit from a quickly-maintainable architecture. We also wanted to create a scalable infrastructure, have the flexibility to allocate resources dynamically as needed and spin up or down new environments with ease. We’ve accomplished this with the help of Cloud Services and orchestrated Docker containers.

The entire platform could be easily replicated on developers’ computers. Thus, our team could maintain the website on the go as well as test and develop while being offline.

In terms of architecture, this project included a blend of modules and microservices. For instance, the UI has been dynamically composed of HTML blocks coming from different services. This was our unique modular architecture. It also meant that we did not have to create the product pages, or most of the user elements from scratch, but just merge the existing pages of the eCommerce platform with the ones from the new CMS system.

The new architecture is a mashup of legacy systems together with new platforms that surface to the user the new modern UI. The integration with the backend systems is event based, asynchronous, so that the entire platform can work independently without putting too much pressure on the backend systems, allowing them to run at their own pace. Customers can access the site, navigate it, find the products they want, place orders, register, and their records end up in Essentra’s back office.

Important aspects of upgrading an eCommerce platform

During our webinar with Essentra, there were some important questions that have arisen. We’ve picked two of them for this article, but you can find out all the questions as well as their answers by watching the webinar here.

Q: How do I know my eCommerce platform needs a reshape?

A: If your traffic or the conversion in your platform drops, then you know that the site is not being used at its maximum potential. A successful eCommerce platform cannot be stagnant, it needs to grow and expand.

Q: From a technical point of view, what are the main components that can help you successfully build an eCommerce platform? Why use a microservice architecture instead of a monolith?

A: A retailer can definitely use a monolith application. However, for a complex ecosystem, a microservice architecture is a much better choice. If you want flexibility and scalability, going with a microservice architecture is preferred over monolith.

The Results of Upgrading an eCommerce Platform the Right Way

The new modular platform enabled Essentra to gain a competitive edge in the market and attract more customers, while dramatically increasing platform availability, uptime, and resiliency. And we saw these results quicker than expected.

Additionally, the upgrade enabled this large company to enjoy a multi-sites single-payment platform, better Google indexing and conversion, and multi-faceted browsing.Discover more about this project by contacting us or you can check our end-to-end eCommerce services.

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