With over 40 product awards worldwide and more than 3 million loyal customers, founded seven years ago as a start-up, Emma has revolutionized the mattress market. Now, the company has expanded its business to over 30 countries – and in 2020 achieved a turnover of 405 million EUR with over 1.5 million mattresses sold. Such corporate growth must not only be met by strategy and innovation – the online shop must also cope with the high demand. And it was clear that the existing platform would not be able to do this for much longer. A new, scalable solution was needed.
The tech team at Emma defined a number of key principles that every part of the future eCommerce architecture would have to follow. The choice landed on commercetools, the industry-leading headless eCommerce platform, because it is as flexible and scalable as possible and has excellent developer tools. We spoke to Andreas Westendörpf, CTO at Emma – The Sleep Company, about the new tech stack and what the changes in the teams' workflow mean for the future of the company.
The top priority is flexibility. With the size of our company and global reach, it is important that we use appropriate software services flexibly and that we can supplement or replace them as required. In addition, we wanted to be able to easily incorporate at any time new components to the tech stacks we used. That is why we prefer lightweight, lean solutions based on microservices that live in the cloud.
Another important aspect was organizational scalability. We want to decouple services horizontally (microservices instead of monolith) and vertically (in layers that can be deployed independently of each other). This not only has technical advantages, but also enables the work in these different areas to be scaled to multiple, interdisciplinary Empowered Product Teams.
And the last important factor was a harmonized software development process – as well as the definition of a lightweight documentation standard and common CI/CD tools as the standard for the tech stacks used. Our goal was to develop a common and binding understanding of software quality and an effective way of exchanging knowledge between the teams. This enables us to move capacities (and people) flexibly between teams if business priorities change. All of the solutions that we select must support our software engineering practices and their tooling.
Since the criteria above closely match those of the MACH Alliance, it is not surprising that commercetools, along with other solutions by members of the MACH Alliance, were ultimately selected as the cornerstones of our target architecture.
commercetools was the first eCommerce platform designed for headless from the start. In addition to the advantages of a headless and modular eCommerce platform that is available as SaaS, commercetools offered several advantages for us. First of all, there is the broad range of functions: The software has a commerce API with more than 300 endpoints, which supports, for example, identity and access management, a product information management system (PIM), functions for processing orders and a powerful promotion engine. Moreover, commercetools is surrounded by an ecosystem of excellent developer tools, including mature support for GraphQL and Terraform. And finally, the platform leads the industry when it comes to extensibility: the data model can be supplemented with user-defined fields, and the APIs can be extended with your own code – without having to create and maintain a microservice for each case.
With commercetools as a fundamental component, our business is fully agile and flexible, and we can run proactive business developments in over 30 markets at the same time. Since we are still in a very early stage of development of the new platform and its global introduction, the primary positive effects are already tangible, but not yet evident. However, we are already noticing that some decisions are becoming easier: The architectural decoupling from the respective requirements reduces the complexity when deciding where certain business functions should be implemented. Because this only occurs selectively and purposefully in one context, the teams can work on several topics at the same time and progress quickly.
In the first part of our blog series about Emma, we outline how the collaboration between Emma – The Sleep Company and commercetools came into place.