General Pants reaches new global customers and business expansion with UltraServe’s digital commerce solution

Overview

General Pants (GP) is a leading Australian fashion retailer operating with over 50 physical stores across Australia, and online in multiple countries worldwide, covering USA, Canada, UK, Japan, Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and more.

 

Challenge

GP were long-time SAP Hybris users, deployed on traditional physical infrastructure, on-premise in Data Centers hosted in Sydney. As part of a move to expand their online offering to other countries outside of Australia, GP looked to the cloud to add flexibility and resiliency to their infrastructure.

To support their expansion, GP needed to find the right partner to provide a platform for SAP Hybris to scale for anticipated surges in traffic (including sales promotions and holiday periods), add extra resiliency, and take full advantage of cloud technologies. GP was also going through a period of change and open to redesign with all elements of their infrastructure being under review.

Deployments of new code resulted in scheduled downtime to the GP site, located only in Australia. Fortunately for GP, this didn’t cause a huge impact to revenue since these deployments were done outside of Australian business hours. However, as GP looked forward to global expansion, they needed a new solution for updates that would minimize downtime at all times, decreasing disruption to customers.

Scalability is critical for any e-commerce business, and this was especially true for GP. While GP’s infrastructure allowed them scaling to handle anticipated surges in traffic (pre-planned sales, etc.), their target demographic meant that ad-hoc, instant surges in traffic (typically driven by social media) happened occasionally and by surprise. Their existing on-premise infrastructure setup meant that quickly scaling to handle the sudden surge of traffic was sometimes too slow to react, leading to issues with the website including poor user experience and inability to transact business.

 

Solution

GP came to UltraServe and took advantage of their Platform as a Service (SmartStack), professional services, and expertise with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Thanks to UltraServe’s SmartStack, GP was able to make the most of a number of AWS services. First, to address the restrictions of on-premise infrastructure hosting, SmartStack used AWS Database Migration Service to migrate GP site from MSSQL to Aurora with AWS Schema Conversion Tool. This combination ensured a smooth transfer to the AWS Cloud with little to no interruption to daily business.

UltraServe also used AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) with Elastic Load Balancing, AWS Relational Database Service (RDS), and AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) to make an easier setup, operate, secure, scalable, available, and a high performing environment for GP in the AWS Cloud. Continuing to increase performance of the GP digital commerce solution, UltraServe implemented AWS CloudFront, creating a better user experience for customers globally.

To address GP’s need for high global availability at scale, SmartStack utilizes AWS EC2 Instances to perform code deployments in such a way that reduce the duration and frequency of downtime windows when deploying new code. SmartStack also allows for 24/7 code deployments, even in Production, meaning GP can perform deployments at a time that suits them.

Additionally, SmartStack takes advantage of the ease of scalability that AWS offers which allows GP to quickly add additional resources during unexpected peak times. This differs from their previous hosting situation where new physical infrastructure needed to be purchased well in advance.

 

Outcome

Once commencing their relationship with UltraServe, GP noticed an improvement in site performance, availability, and scalability – at a reduced cost, thanks to the smooth migration to the AWS Cloud.

Attaining their expansion goals, GP expanded to over 8 regions of online stores globally, transacting business 24/7/365. SmartStack has eliminated downtime for code deployments, allowing GP to stay online at all times to be competitive in their market.

Without fear of their site slowing down or going offline due to unexpected high user loads, GP comfortable executes large scale sales and marketing campaigns. SmartStack’s ability to quickly react to GP load requirements in the AWS Cloud has kept the online stores highly available with their guaranteed Service Level Agreement (SLA) of 99.999% uptime.

GP now delivers increased customer experiences with their new digital commerce solution to more customers globally. UltraServe has proved a successful partner in supporting GP goals for global customer growth and business expansion, running millions in revenue through SmartStack in the AWS Cloud.

UltraServe Awards Q3 Employee MVP

Congratulations to Bayden Allen!

This quarters UltraServe staff award goes to, Bayden Allen! There was no question for our CEO, Matt Hyland when deciding an employee to highlight this quarter. Described by his peers and superiors as tenacious, hard-working, motivated, technically sharp, and high energy, Bayden was a clear choice for this quarters employee spotlight.

With less than a year at UltraServe, Bayden has risen to be the Technical Team Lead for the Australia Service Desk from an entry-level Service Desk Engineer role. Matt Hyland says, “The best awards are when your team nominates you” and Bayden is considered the MVP by his Service Desk, Product, and Project teams.

One of his fellow Service Desk peers says, “Every time I communicate with him he has a new improvement or innovation to teach.” Bayden goes above and beyond to provide UltraServe customers with the best service while helping his fellow peers and superiors do the same.

Bayden is a model example of what a consistently positively energized, high performing, and dedicated employee looks like at UltraServe and we couldn’t be more ecstatic to recognize him and have him on our team!

To join our team of digital commerce experts, visit our careers page for open positions.

“This is what get’s me up in the morning” for UltraServe’s CEO, Matt Hyland

CEO of UltraServe, Matt Hyland, is frequently asked why he is so energised and excited about coming into work every day at UltraServe. Today at our quarterly all staff briefing Matt gave his reason as to why.

Even though the day to day operations can become consuming and present really difficult challenges, Matt is pushed every day by witnessing our company vision coming true – to be the market leading digital commerce solution for enterprises globally. Matt says that is super important to remain focused on the big picture, connecting what appear to be seemingly small tasks that are actually active evidence of our company vision being fulfilled – “important to ensure that everything that we are doing is in some way moving the ball forward”.

Every day Matt sees employees oozing positive energy and excitement about what we do. Being surrounded by high-quality people who are passionate their product is really what motivates Matt and makes the long hours and extensive travel all worthwhile. “The work people do here is truly inspirational. We’re not a typical nine to five company where you fly under the radar, you can make a difference and have influence” says Matt Hyland.

Matt has a long background of managing high profile large teams of people but Matt says, “This has been my most difficult but most stimulating position yet”.

Full of passionate highly motivated and invested employees focused on being Digital Commerce solution experts providing thought leadership, UltraServe benefits from radiated positive energy through the company which is stimulating new growth in our market. Starting with our CEO all the way to newly employed members of the team, this is what motivates UltraServe.

SmartStack for SAP Hybris

UltraServe’s Platform as a Service, SmartStack, provides the fastest, most reliable and cost-effective way to provision, maintain and manage SAP Hybris in the Amazon Web Services Cloud. A full, detailed briefing of our platforms solution highlights, key benefits, and features and capabilities are enclosed in the data sheet below.

SmartStack for SAP Hybris Data Sheet


SAP Hybris Data Sheet SS

Assisting Novartis to create best in class customer experience while streamlining internal processes

Overview 

Novartis is one of the world’s largest international pharmaceutical companies supporting multiple divisions in medicine, millions of products, and over 200 innovative projects.

In 2015, Novartis launched an ambitious Hybris eCommerce program for its Surgical Eye Care division, with the dual objectives of delivering a best in class customer experience, while streamlining internal processes to reduce manual work.

Challenge 

Under the original platform solution Novartis experienced a 3 to 4 week platform build lead time, delaying the release of important application features and stability improvements. Also, the solution did not satisfy strict security requirements for the pharmaceutical industry. The outcome of these business critical issues was the launch RFP and the section of the UltraServe SmartSack solution.

Solution 

In three months, from July to September 2016, UltraServe used its Platform as a Service (PaaS), SmartStack, with SAP Commerce Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch Novartis’s digital commerce solution. SmartStack offered Novartis the scalability they needed at scale and matched industry required security requirements.

“Clearly experts with Hybris technology and AWS, customer focused and great to work with, the UltraServe team brought much needed stability to the platform.”
– Robin Shah, Head of IT, EMEA Region / Global Head of eCommerce solutions

As Novartis ramped up volumes on SmartStack, UltraServe worked closely with the internal teams providing the necessary environments and expertise to address performance bottlenecks, perform system upgrades and deliver additional capabilities through the regular sprint cycles.

Outcome 

Novartis now has a stable and performant enterprise grade digital commerce solution that meets a strict regulatory framework with the convince of continued integration and continuous deployment capabilities.

“UltraServe met our stringent security standards, and quickly became a trusted partner for our IT and business teams.”
– Robin Shah, Head of IT, EMEA Region / Global Head of eCommerce solutions

The digital commerce program has been a success story for Novartis with over 100% year on year growth equating to circa $300m of business going through the platform in 2018.

Contact an UltraServe Hybris expert today to talk in confidence about how we can help you.

sales@ultraserve.com.au

Delivering next-gen digital commerce platforms for DuluxGroup

Overview

DuluxGroup is a leading marketer and manufacturer of premium branded products that enhance, protect and maintain the places and spaces in which people live and work.

In addition to having a proud heritage, the business is maturing to meet an exciting future. UltraServe is helping them do that head on, with a suite of integrated platform services that can offer the scalability, responsivity and reliability to meet their ambitions.

“You’re going to experience major challenges on any e-commerce project of this scale, and if your partner isn’t experienced with projects of the same technology, scale and complexity, you can expect those problems to multiply. UltraServe demonstrated that they had not only delivered similar projects to ours but were also a thought leader in how these projects should be managed.”

Dafydd Lewis, Technical Lead, DuluxGroup

Problem 

Months of discovery, analysis and planning went in to defining DuluxGroup’s digital transformation strategy. The result was a multimillion-dollar commitment to delivering a single, group-wide marketing and e-commerce platform that encompassed mobile push, point of sale and analytics.

The solution had to be fully centralised while remaining scalable across multiple geographies, businesses and audiences. At every stage, user experience and best practice were to be championed. That meant reliability – and experience – were of paramount importance when it came to selecting a partner to ensure the smooth deployment and implementation of the chosen SAP Hybris, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) platforms. Which made UltraServe the natural choice.

“UltraServe came highly recommended by both our digital marketing agency and SAP themselves. They had the most Hybris experience by a significant margin, and also had experience with Adobe AEM and Campaign.”

Solution

As with any large-scale, multi-market e-commerce solution, deployment, hosting and management was never going to be straightforward. However, the DuluxGroup team recognised the need for expert support early in the process.

“Hosting is often deceptively simple. It’s seen as a commodity to purchase, but it needs expertise to launch successfully without racking up technical debt. With such a large, complex and evolving project, we didn’t know exactly what would be needed when we started. UltraServe had that experience.”

By getting involved sooner, the DuluxGroup team – led by Dafydd Lewis – was able to mitigate against risk at launch and beyond. In addition to hosting, UltraServe managed deployment and patching while automating as many processes as possible. By removing human intervention, UltraServe greatly reduced the potential for error.

“UltraServe took the uncertainty out of hosting solutions. And they did so in a way that flexed to accommodate the fluid nature of the project. They were hugely responsive and went above and beyond to meet all our support needs.

With UltraServe’s instantly scalable services in place, DuluxGroup can be confident that their platforms are ready for whatever the future brings, be that international growth or e-commerce expansion.

Outcome

  • The deployment of an integrated platform to ultimately support 60+ e-commerce and content sites
  • Integrated management and analytics spanning multiple geographies
  • Instantly scalable, completely recoverable platforms
  • Recouped opportunity cost by decreasing the need for post-implementation support.

Contact an UltraServe Hybris expert today to talk in confidence about how we can help you.

sales@ultraserve.com.au

Downtime is costly

Businesses are expected to be available around the clock to meet customer needs and market challenges, but the only way to effectively achieve these goals is by ensuring that the company’s digital commerce solution is humming along like a well-oiled machine. An ITIC study showed that 81% of its survey participants indicated a loss of over $300,000 due to downtime, while large enterprises suffered losses of over $5 million. Updates are a critical part of competitive in the marketplace and maintaining software infrastructure. However, updates are also a headache, a system-wide update can result in significant downtime.

Updating a digital commerce solution does not need to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The UltraServe team understands how critical updates are to supporting the health of enterprises. It has implemented a way to decrease system downtime while improving the digital commerce solution infrastructure via rolling updates. How can the deployment of rolling updates support enterprise success?

Get the ball rolling

Usually, traditional software updates involve taking the application servers completely offline. This allows developers to install the upgrades and run tests to ensure that the updates work as they should. Traditional updates do not always run smoothly, and a bug in an update can result in significant downtime for a business. Rolling updates, however, sidestep the issues with traditional updates. Deploying a rolling update means that a system upgrade is managed in phases, with a server (or subset of servers) getting the updated program first. This ensures that there is no need for a system-wide restart. Rolling deployments offer three main benefits:

  1. Zero-downtime to a digital commerce site. Perhaps the most important aspect of deploying rolling updates for a digital commerce solution is the impact on the application’s downtime. Without access to a digital commerce companies website, customers cannot make purchases or engage with representatives, and employees cannot execute their duties, such as processing orders or managing inventory. However, since only one server (or a few servers) is updated at any stage in the updating process, other parts of the digital commerce platform will be unaffected, allowing customers to interact with the business and employees to manage mission-critical tasks.
  2. Highly automated, lower resource requirements. Since the rolling deployment focuses on implementing an isolated update or limited series of updates, developers only need to concentrate on a restricted set of functionalities; this frees up developers to deliver higher levels of service for the specific updates. In addition, since there is no need to take down all of the servers simultaneously to perform the updates, fewer resources are needed at any given part of the rolling deployment to support the modifications in the system. The business can leverage those resources for other, high-value tasks.
  3. Seamless deployment of customer experience updates. Rolling updates effortlessly to ensure that the business’s customer experience is relatively frictionless, with little or no interruption. The entire digital commerce system can be updated in simple phases, without impacting user access with issues that may possibly arise in other parts of the platform. Customers continue to interact with the business while enjoying the benefits of the improved software platform.

Deploying rolling updates serves businesses by ensuring that your site has little to no downtime for customers to continue to transact business with no interrupted user experience. Most digital commerce platform services cannot successfully manage rolling deployments. The experienced team at UltraServe has been delivering scalable digital solutions for almost 20 years and has successfully managed rolling deployments. With its deep knowledge of Hybris, the team manages mission-critical commerce applications in the cloud, so businesses can focus on growing, not wrangling with their software solution. Contact the UltraServe team today to attain the time and resource savings of rolling deployments.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Digital Commerce

The digital commerce industry is a diverse one, encompassing a bewildering array of tools, systems, and data for both buyers and sellers as well as covering everything from online payment encryption to mobile shopping and beyond.

Enterprises with online presence usually make use of a digital commerce platform or store to conduct both sales and online marketing activities and oversee fulfillment and logistics. With the rising dominance of digital commerce, the retail industry is undergoing a seismic paradigm shift. Digital commerce platforms and marketplaces are transforming the way people purchase items, becoming the more preferred method of shopping for consumer markets in U.S., Europe, and Asia.

The continuous growth of digital commerce

Over the years, the digital commerce industry has become synonymous with continuous growth, with the last 14 years seeing the massive growth of digital commerce companies across the board. This has been even more spectacular for merchandise lines such as beauty and clothing products, which averaged a remarkable 25 percent growth in compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2000 and 2014.

Statistics show that in 2016, shopping on digital commerce platforms accounted for 11.7 percent of overall retail sales, totaling a whopping $394.86 billion. This represents approximately 42 percent of all growth in the year 2016, with the digital commerce industry showing a 15.6 percent increase from 2015 figures.

The massive shift from traditional retail shopping

In the U.S., this massive shift from traditional retail shopping to digital commerce platforms has been fuelled by a number of factors, one of which is the increasing popularity of flash sale event days such as Black Friday. In 2017, sales from Black Friday totaled nearly $5.03 billion, and this massive success led to its adoption by other countries such as India, the Netherlands, the UK, et cetera. Although impressive, sales from Alibaba’s Double 11 festival in China was even more spectacular, raking in an unprecedented $25.3 billion in 2017. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.

Massive potential for improved revenue generation

Projections show that overall digital commerce revenue in the U.S. will exceed $638 billion by 2022, with the sale of accessories, footwear, and apparel expected to surpass $123 million. Retail sales worldwide are predicted to exceed $4.058 trillion by 2020, while reports from eMarketer indicate that the number of digital buyers may exceed 2.14 billion by 2021.

Also, the Quarterly Retail digital commerce Sales report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that when compared to 2017 figures in the same time period, the first quarter of 2018 recorded a 16.4 percent increase in digital commerce sales. It is indeed clear that now is the best possible time for enterprises to tap into the power of the digital marketplace and grow their digital commerce businesses.

In 2015, the global digital commerce platform market was valued at $4.44 billion. A recent study carried out by Transparency Market Research indicates that the global demand for these platforms will increase by 14.8 percent, reaching an estimated $15.30 billion by 2024.

Growing demand for digital commerce platforms

The growing demand in the global market for digital commerce platform is driven by the all-pervasive nature of internet connectivity and the continuous rise in the use of consumer electronics. These factors contribute to both the growth of digital media and the digital commerce sector. The increasing demand for digital commerce platforms worldwide can also be attributed to the evolving nature of cloud computing services, making it much easier for consumers to access digital content.

However, more progressive growth is restricted by numerous factors including the growing security and safety concerns with regards to malware and spyware as well as lack of marketing skills shown by major players in the market.

Currently, North America holds the leading position in the global digital commerce platform market in terms of revenue generation and demand volume. This has been attributed to the massive base of digital media users, the attendant high use of smartphones and devices as well as high-speed internet services and data networks. North America’s retail segment is already a major source of revenue for market players in the industry, while its B2B segment is showing phenomenal growth within the digital commerce platform market.

The dominance of digital commerce platforms

Businesses can no longer ignore the increasing importance/dominance of digital commerce platforms as a sales vector. The everyday demands of modern life mean that there is less and less time for people to spend on nonrevenue generating activities such as shopping, meaning that more and more people will come to appreciate the ease and stress-free nature of online shopping. To stay relevant and competitive, businesses must look for ways of exploiting this trend to improve customers’ shopping experience and protect their customer base.

Increasing popularity of PaaS as a deployment model

Unlike their predecessors, however, the new generation of digital commerce marketplaces will become more localized and industry-specific. Companies want digital commerce platforms that will enable them to solve particular problems for a specific region and/or target customer demographic. As such, they require a digital commerce platform solution that is easy to develop, deploy, use and scale, thus ensuring success and profitability in the long run. Currently, the deployment models for digital commerce platforms are segmented into open source, fully managed Platform as a service (PaaS) and on-premise.

Although each deployment model comes with its advantage and disadvantages, cloud-based PaaS solutions are becoming increasingly popular due to a low total cost of ownership (TCO), capability for Payment Card Industry compliance and security, launching speed, easy integration, and process automation as well as reduced downtime.

UltraServe’s PaaS – SmartStack

The UltraServe digital commerce solutions offers 18 years of industry experience, a 24/7/365 global support team and our leading PaaS solution, SmartStack.

Deploying in 25% of the time, SmartStack controls your AWS Cloud while enabling your data and application (SAP Hybris, Magento, or Adobe Experience Manager). This combination allows for a decreased, risk, time, and money.

 

3 New Digital Commerce Trends

Transform your digital commerce platform

A competitive Digital Commerce presence often entails the proper maintenance and organization of thousands of products and categories for potentially millions of customers. Organizations must be able to leverage data to perform digital transactions in real time, as well as securely and efficiently store data for future research and analysis. Like all functional e-commerce database services, cloud-based offerings are equipped with essential features such as automated backup and recovery tools; Aurora is no different. From preserving six database copies to utilizing Virtual Private Cloud security and SSL encryption, Amazon Aurora remains at the cutting edge of technological innovation to keep your data safe.

To begin using Aurora, the service leverages the AWS Relational Database Service Management Console as an intuitive interface for running database instances. Aurora supports compatibility with MySQL and PostgreSQL, two of the most commonly used open source database management systems. Existing code and applications which run using these existing database services are immediately ready to run in Aurora. However, for organizations which require more complex migration aspects and considerations, Aurora makes this transition simple with support from the AWS Schema Conversion Tool. This feature allows clients to automatically convert custom source code or database schemas to a target database within AWS, saving valuable company time and resources while also receiving a database backup saved to the cloud.

In today’s competitive Commerce environment, the data requirements necessary for leading brands to provide innovative customer shopping experiences have become enormous. Amazon Aurora can safely store vital business and customer information securely in a cluster volume. Up to 64 terabytes of data for a single database table can be supported, whether it is for product descriptions, inventory availability, orders/transaction history or other essential e-commerce functions. Better yet, Amazon’s pricing model allows clients to only purchase data storage based on the amount of space actually used, allowing instant flexibility and scalability. The pay-as-you-go model with no upfront fees allows firms to easily test out the service, with easy options to optimize CPU processing and pricing points.

Amazon’s latest e-commerce offering provides several additional advantages over the competition. The lofty potential of reducing as much as 90 percent of database costs may just be an exaggerated marketing incentive, but Aurora’s automated and fully equipped software will provide significant savings over most traditional in-house databases in most situations which require expensive and experienced database administrators. Aurora’s flexibility also provides a leading edge over other e-commerce solutions, especially with integration capabilities to easily monitor database performance and problems using Amazon services such as Performance Insights and CloudWatch.

Amazon Web Services is the leading provider of secure and reliable data storage, and Amazon Aurora is certainly no exception when it comes to e-commerce. To help you learn more about how Amazon Aurora might offer innovative solutions for your organization, UltraServe (www.ultraserve.co) offers expert services and advice for both B2B and B2C e-commerce platforms. UltraServe is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider specializing in delivering Digital Commerce solutions for organizations globally. UltraServe’s SmartStack Platform provides the most efficient way to deliver Digital Commerce applications (such as SAP Hybris Commerce, Magento Enterprise and Adobe Experience Manager) in the AWS cloud.

UltraServe worked with AWS and SAP to certify the Amazon Aurora Database for use with SAP Hybris

 

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL-compatible relational database engine that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open-source databases. Amazon Aurora provides up to five times better performance than MySQL with the security, availability, and reliability of a commercial database at one tenth the cost. Amazon Aurora’s high availability features and durability are key enablers for UltraServe SmartStack to deliver SAP Hybris Commerce on AWS with a 99.999% availability SLA (which translates to 5.26 minutes of unplanned downtime per year).

We look forward to supporting and delivering your Digital Commerce journey.