Building an ecommerce platform that scales for multiple product and customer areas

The combination of ecommerce substance know-how, deep technical expertise and superb design has been invaluable for us when pushing for a scalable ecommerce platform and its first successful shop release. Tuija Åkerman, VP, Consumer Services, International Affairs & BG Marketing, Posti Group


Key objectives

Posti has an extremely wide array of products and services that are sold online for various customer groups with a very broad range of use cases. Managing ecommerce in this setup can become relatively complex at times.

Posti’s old ecommerce solutions were coming to the end of their lifecycle for certain product areas, such as stamps, physical mail accessories and various services regarding sending letters and envelopes – both in consumer and B2B areas. There was a clear business case for renewing them – starting from business continuity concerns but extending to synergies and providing a major user experience and, thereby, commercial upgrade.

After a long relationship of sparring Posti with their digital sales architecture, Posti wanted to set up a shared team with Columbia Road for:

  • Building a trustworthy and versatile platform for selling numerous product areas with various use cases online for diverse customer segments
  • Gaining synergies by having one core ecommerce backend and admin solution that scales for different needs in the short and long term and that is reliable
  • When needed, renewing ecommerce processes around the product areas to more efficient ones

Key challenges: Being able to manage numerous dependencies with other modern and legacy systems. The very broad scope and roadmap for years to come: how to get results quickly while actively pursuing the long-term goal?


Our approach

Thorough planning: Before starting a broad architecture renewal, we needed to acquire enough knowledge from the current systems and processes as well as customer needs in order to ensure that MVP capabilities scale for items two years ahead in the roadmap.

Ensuring short-term gains and validation: Defining an MVP scope, with a very limited set of required functionalities and clear business upside, that still establishes the core building blocks for the long term service.

Team: A shared team of developers, designers, architects and project management between Posti and Columbia Road.

Technical setup

A custom frontend was required due to the need to have several different webshop user interfaces with a very distinct set of use cases and ways to present products, and to ensure that the site can be extended to various future scenarios. Posti already had several custom digital UIs so having the service in sync with other digital touchpoints made sense in addition to knowing that there is a synergy within the company in maintenance knowhow.

Magento2 + microservices backend: There was a clear need for custom building the solutions for some of the more complex B2B use cases, including enterprise-level functionalities. Therefore Magento2 was chosen as the headless ecommerce platform with the support of a selection of microservices. An ecommerce integration layer was set up to enable flexibility with frontend and data layers.

Tech stack
  • Frontend: NextJS
  • Integrations: Product management system, Contentful
  • Backend: Magento2, KoaJS
  • Infra: AWS

Impact

During the first six months:

  • We set up the infrastructure, built the core elements for the headless multi-store ecommerce platform, set up Magento2, and built the integration layer for ecommerce.
  • Helped to continuously clarify the long-term target state for ecommerce at Posti’s Postal Services division.
  • Released the Santa’s Letter webshop from which people from all over the world can order a personalised letter from Santa for their children and loved ones. 
  • For Santa’s Letter webshop, we saw:
    • An order and revenue increase of 30% compared to the previous years’ average without any major changes in marketing budgets.
    • A bounce rate decrease of 16% due to users’ better ability to quickly get a grasp of the product and navigate the site

About Posti

Posti is the leading postal and logistics service company in Finland. Their core business includes postal services, parcels, freight and logistics services. They have the widest network coverage in Finland, visiting approximately three million households and companies every day. Posti’s history spans nearly 400 years, currently employing over 20,000 people.

www.posti.fi/en


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