Staples, a global office supply retailer, launched its first eCommerce site in 2001. Over the years, the company acquired other entities worldwide and their existing eCommerce systems, throughout which they continued to provide online services. Today, Staples faces the challenge of unifying their online presence across all touchpoints and has decided to test out modern Progressive Web Apps.
Providing global online services based on multiple backend systems is not an easy task, and Staples knew that well. Being the second largest eRetailer in the world (right behind Amazon.com), Staples have to provide daily maintenance of each eCommerce system separately. It brings a lot of challenges. This is a great struggle for the development teams, who have to work with the highly customized systems written in .NET and JAVA, but also for the end users.
What's more, owning entities and matching eCommerce systems in over 40 countries across the world, Staples tried to provide a consistent brand identity across all of them with great cost and effort.
Although this situation reflects the state of many seasoned eCommerce systems, the answer to such a challenge wasn't easy.
WHAT DID THEY NEED?
Dealing with legacy backends
The eCommerce team knew that changing all backend systems on such an enormous scale would be intensively demanding and time-consuming. Instead, they decided to build a unified user interface (UI) for two backends available in the Staples technology stack.
At first, the company considered the development of a mobile native app, a new frontend, and various headless solutions, but in the end, it became clear that the best option would be a progressive web app which combines the features of a web page and mobile app in one.
At that time, Staples approached Divante, which develops Vue Storefront, a PWA storefront dedicated to eCommerce.
“We were looking for a partner who would not only take us through the steep learning curve with PWA but also build a close relationship with us to embark on a journey to transform the Staples eCommerce space” – says Luiza Warno, Head of Applications at Staples Solutions.
WHAT DID WE DO?
Running a proof of concept
Staples and Divante began cooperation with workshops which helped both parties to understand the overall situation and decide on the final technology. The idea was to implement one, common user interface based on Vue Storefront in Azure Cloud and integrate it with two eCommerce backends (Genesis & Netshop).
By running this experiment, Staples hoped to answer the following questions:
- How to create a UI in Azure Cloud in a short time and what is essential to do so?
- How to create, easily and quickly, a new API for at least two online stores and to separate their frontend from the backend (headless approach)?
- What DevOps practices should be applied?
- How do Progressive Web Apps work in practice?
- How can we work with the Vue.js framework? Is it simple to use and scalable?