After REWE had founded its subsidiary REWE digital, the company was looking for a partner to meet the new challenge in online retail. The decision was quick and easy: REWE opted for commercetools – a modern and uncomplicated modular system with microservices that could be combined with in-house developments. Time to take a look at these five years of successful cooperation. 

In our first blog article we had a closer look at REWE digital’s marketplace and the role of commercetools in this area. Now we turn our attention to what we do best: eCommerce. For this we spoke with David Yasli, CPO E-Commerce REWE digital.

David Yasli, CPO REWE Digital GmbH

David Yasli, CPO REWE Digital GmbH

E-commerce thrives on the rapid adoption of new technologies, on experimentation, and on trial and error. How does REWE digital ensure an agile mindset, both technologically and organizationally?
David Yasli: One important prerequisite for success is to create the right conditions to enable our employees to take responsibility and work independently. Experimenting and testing are a natural part of this if you want to be a trailblazer. When someone has an idea for a new feature, we implement it quickly so that we can test the new feature using measurable data (KPIs or key performance indicators). Only when the KPIs show positive results, for example when the newly implemented feature generates more revenue, will it then be scaled up. At this point we have proven that our investment – programming effort in our case – really pays off. It’s always a matter of quantifying the technical aspects from a business perspective: Is the programming effort involved worthwhile in terms of EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes)?   

Why did REWE digital choose to use a blend of in-house development and commercetools?
We examine what a specific business area requires over an investment period of several years, then we decide whether to develop solutions ourselves or to purchase them. After our analysis process, we found it was most efficient for us to go with a mixture of in-house development and commercetools.

In which areas does REWE digital prefer in-house development and where is commercetools used? How is a decision reached in this case? Do you have any guidelines?
We don’t have any concrete guidelines for make-or-buy decisions. Instead, we use a checklist of criteria that includes a range of factors surrounding acquisition, maintenance and licensing costs. One key financial factor that we look at very closely is time-to-market. Soft factors such as interpersonal relationships and personal contact with commercetools naturally also play a role.

How do you ensure that the platform scales sufficiently at peak times?
We consistently rely on cloud-based solutions and a microservices architecture that can be expanded at any time instead of our own hardware. We use reactive programming in the back-end to support this. Scalability is also an important factor that we keep in mind when implementing the front-end interface. 

The attention of the first part of this series was on REWE eFood Marketplace and delivery services, so on the third and final part, Thomas Vidic, System Architect REWE digital, shifts the focus to the technological implementation.
More about REWE digital paving the way for the digitalisation of the REWE Group can be found on their website.