The largest shopping center in northern Germany, Dodenhof covers 170,000 square meters of retail space at the Posthausen location in Lower Saxony and the Kaltenkirchen location in Schleswig-Holstein. Dodenhof features a wide selection ranging from fashion, home decor, sports, technology, to food as well as a shop mall with a large number of retailers and restaurants. The company chose the microservices technology from commercetools to help it take the plunge into the online world, and launched a completely new online shop within just a few weeks. “Over the past year, we devoted great detail to developing a strategy with which we could compensate for our late entry into the online market. The shop was deliberately completed in a fast-track project so that we could go live right away, learn and see where we needed to improve and continue to grow,” explains Oliver Breitfeld, head of e-commerce for Dodenhof.

The future of retail: Think Big – Start Small

Very much in tune with the slogan “Think Big – Start Small”, Dodenhof is initially offering its customers a continually changing assortment of theme-related merchandise, with the gradual expansion of the online product line. “Currently the limited product range is helping us to better understand what our customers are interested in,” adds Mr. Breitfeld in explaining the company’s strategy. Dodenhof sees the shop as the basis for integrated digitization, and intends to initiate many exciting future projects to connect online and offline retail in a meaningful way. This objective is also the reason why the company decided to use microservices and the commerce platform from commercetools. “We are convinced that a future-proof retail strategy cannot consist of just one online shop,” says Mr. Breitfeld. “We would like to offer other options, such as making digital sales possible at the POS and offering digital interfaces to the employees on the sales floor. To us, the frontend includes more than just the desktop or smartphone. That’s exactly where the added value of commercetools comes in.” E-commerce agency Shopmacher provides the frontend and CS, and service provider Kommerz is responsible for the issue of usability (UX/UI).

“We are very pleased with the partnership with Dodenhof,” says Dirk Hörig, CEO of commercetools. “For us, this project is a very exciting case. As a retailer and shopping center management company with a more than 100 year tradition, Dodenhof absolutely understood the need for change, and in our opinion offers much more potential for innovative retail concepts. Dodenhof has great plans for the future, and we are pleased to be able to help them with that.”

Microservices: Easily implement complex retail concepts

E-commerce architectures created with microservices are considered the system of the future for online retail. This includes small individual programs, each of which digitally map a part of the retail business (like pricing, shopping cart, search, etc.). They are developed and operated independently of each other. This way, additional sales channels such as social media, a smart watch, and even a connected car or virtual reality glasses can be linked with the online shop very easily with no need for a complex IT system. In addition, it allows for much more experimental access to new ideas because microservices are quickly created and can be removed again as needed without making changes to the overall system.