Today, there are many ways for customers to access ecommerce sites: from laptops and mobiles to tablets and interactive displays. Devices vary in size, resolution, and several other ways. On top of this, the product content is constantly changing and customers expect an excellent digital experience, wherever and whenever they interact with brands. This presents obvious challenges for the development team.
Add to that the sheer volume of customer data involved, and some of the newer, more immersive digital experiences that are becoming increasingly common, and it becomes clear that developing and managing ecommerce platforms is a complex endeavor.
And at the same time, customers have probably never been less patient. If they don’t find what they need immediately, or if the page takes an extra second to load, they may be gone forever.
So, there’s no shortage of challenges. Luckily, there are great solutions as well, and one of them spells DevOps. In this article, we’ll examine how a DevOps framework can enable ecommerce businesses to grow faster and in a more reliable and resilient way.
What Is DevOps?
The DevOps methodology is a collection of philosophies, practices, and tools that help increase organizations’ ability to deliver applications and services at high speed. A DevOps framework allows companies to build, improve, and launch products at a much higher pace than organizations using a more traditional approach to software development and infrastructure management. And in ecommerce, speed is everything. The quicker you can go to market with new products, the larger your market share will be.
A DevOps model means breaking down the silos between development teams, operations teams, and security teams. In some companies, those teams are even merged into one, allowing the engineers to get engaged in and work with the entire application lifecycle–from development and testing to deployment and maintenance.
The Cultural Philosophy Behind DevOps
Moving from a more traditional way of working to a DevOps methodology requires a change in mindset and culture. One of the fundamental elements of DevOps philosophy is the removal of barriers between teams that have traditionally been more or less siloed: development and operations (hence the abbreviation, DevOps). With a DevOps approach, those teams work closely together. They do this in order to optimize the productivity of developers and the reliability and accuracy of operations.
With a DevOps mindset, the DevOps team takes full ownership of the services it develops, putting the customer–rather than processes–at the center. It’s a circular, rather than a linear, approach. When organizations adopt a DevOps model, the DevOps teams see the whole application lifecycle as their responsibility–as opposed to just parts of it.
The Specific IT Demands of Ecommerce
The digital landscape of today has created very high expectations on ecommerce sites. If the digital experience is not convenient, seamless, and smooth (not to mention engaging and inspiring) the customer will immediately bounce back to Google and continue browsing for alternatives.
Customers will not wait for you to get everything right; they have access to endless offers and may never return to your site after a bad experience. This is why ecommerce web development entails a specific set of requirements, such as:
- Short-term release cycles
- Quick bug fixes
- Service stability
- High availability (up to 99.9%)
- AI / ML technologies
- Strong feedback loop
- Rapid data processing
- Strong data storage and security capabilities
These are all building blocks of smooth operational processes and optimized usage of your computing resources—which, luckily, is exactly what DevOps can help solve. So what are the specific benefits for ecommerce companies who choose to embrace the DevOps way of doing things? Let’s have a look!
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Benefits of DevOps in Ecommerce
The ability to deliver and update products quickly and continuously is a critical success factor in ecommerce. The pace is always high, as new trends emerge and ecommerce merchants race to win the customer.
From a developer’s point of view, this presents quite a few challenges. Not only do new products need to be added, but new features and applications are constantly required. And while all of this happens, the quality of service needs to be maintained at a constant high level.
Implementing DevOps is a way to speed up ecommerce development projects by allowing developers and management departments to collaborate in a more smooth and agile way. The DevOps approach tends to eliminate clogging in deployment processes and to make development and launch processes more dynamic.
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Iterative Development and Deployments
Ecommerce websites need to be constantly updated, which means there are frequent deployments. Once the development process and automation are in place, deployment within the DevOps framework can be continuously made with minimal human intervention.
Instead of creating big projects, the DevOps way of doing things means small, automated, incremental builds that are pushed directly to production. This allows for quick and frequent changes in order to create the best possible customer experience.
Related reading: Optimize Your Digital Customer Experience
An essential part of the DevOps methodology is automated testing. This is a way to ensure that new code is solid and will not create bugs in the system. As in all things DevOps, the aim is an iterative process with a constant feedback loop, leading to a more stable ecommerce platform and an optimized experience, both for internal users and customers.
Automated testing requires frameworks and tools for writing test scripts that can test and verify that new applications work. Through test automation, DevOps are able to:
- Use test cases to detect bugs
- Test new applications and features quickly
- Deploy products and go to market faster
- Minimize the risk of human error
- Simplify the testing process
- Increase reliability
With a DevOps approach, many traditionally manual processes are automated. This is done for multiple reasons. By automating manual processes wherever possible, the risk of human errors is mitigated. It also saves companies a lot of time and money while freeing up the developers to focus on value-add functionality rather than repetitive tasks.
Infrastructure automation has several benefits, including faster turnaround, increased measurability, and more efficient time management for the developers. With the infrastructure automated, the IT team can spend time on improvement rather than on maintenance.
But the most essential goal of automation in DevOps, especially in ecommerce, is to build consistent and reliable applications in a stable environment. That’s why automation must be done thoughtfully and smartly and not just for the sake of it.
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On the back-end of the DevOps automation process, you benefit from improved security. DevOps practices allow developers to collaborate early with security experts, which improves security testing. Automation enforces security gates and provides enhanced mechanisms for compliance and security management.
The constant collection of customer data in ecommerce means a lot of personal information is gathered, managed, stored, and used, which can potentially put your company at risk for data breaches. Breaches that could damage your reputation, harm your customers, and lead to hefty fines and penalties.
DevOps can help build a more secure environment through increased automation that avoids human error. By automating configuration and updates, with frequent back-ups and extensive log files, and adhering to strict user roles and admin levels, DevOps can help avoid security threats that might go unnoticed in a less controlled environment.
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Agility and Resilience
A DevOps framework enables an agile way of working, reducing the time between ideas to production. And in ecommerce, speed and agility is what will help you stay ahead.
With a DevOps approach, businesses can go to market faster and roll out new features and applications at a much higher velocity. DevOps allows for a whole new level of speed, agility, and resilience, which means more software innovation and improved competitiveness.
And resilience is really the key here, as few companies would be willing to sacrifice stability to accelerate innovation. With DevOps, there is no such trade-off.
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How Vaimo Can Help
The ecommerce market is highly competitive, and it’s evolving faster than many other industries. Competition is fierce, and customers are presented with endless options that are never more than a few clicks away.
To win and retain customers, ecommerce companies must provide outstanding digital customer experiences. Speed and availability are crucial success factors in this, which is why the DevOps methodology holds such a significant promise for ecommerce businesses.
By implementing DevOps best practices, you will be able to respond to changes in market demands quickly, you will improve collaboration between your teams, and build an agile and scalable infrastructure to enable quick updates and deployments.
At Vaimo, we’re experts at all things ecommerce. We can assist your company in implementing a DevOps framework and help you accelerate your innovation and growth rate. We help ecommerce companies all over the world drive success and build outstanding digital experiences for their customers. Get in touch with our team of experts to learn how we can help you improve your processes and strategy or to explore how technology can enable success.