Vitamix chose the Oracle Commerce platform to enable expansion of their brand in the global marketplace. Choosing a commerce platform is a major decision, but choosing an integration partner is equally important. Out of the handful of System Integration (SI) firms vying for this business, Vitamix chose to partner with Commerce Architects and Cirrus10. Both the platform and SI decisions turned out to be wise ones—the application was delivered on time and under budget. The initial site launch was in Germany, Ireland, and the UK. That launch went so smoothly that a launch to the US and Canada happened just one week later.
How We Did It
In order to make rapid progress building out the desired functionality, we started with the Commerce Architects Foundation reference store. This framework allowed us to have basic browse and checkout functionality working and deployed to a hosted environment in the first 5 weeks of development. Unlike other reference stores, the entire application is built from scratch, and we pull in only the code required to fulfill the requirements, making modifications as needed to tailor the functionality to each client’s specific needs. The Commerce Architects Foundation is a fairly thin layer on top of the out-of-the-box functionality provided by Oracle Commerce, which makes it easy to maintain and to upgrade. There is no ambiguity about what code is or is not used. Anything added to the application is added to fulfill a requirement, not to clutter up the codebase.
The Commerce Architects Foundation reference store is built with internationalization and localization in mind. Every text element shown on the site and any associated translations are stored in an ATG repository. We even pull the ATG resource bundle messages into the repository to make it easy to modify existing, out-of-the-box messages without requiring a code deployment. Ultimately, all text, in all languages, is accessible and can be easily changed with a BCC deployment. The Oracle Commerce multi-site framework was used as a base to build out the country-specific storefronts. When Vitamix wants to roll out the site to a new country, they simply run a script we created to generate the initial XML data required to set up the new site, and then import that data through our custom repository loading tools. Once the initial data is deployed and updated to meet any site-specific requirements, it is simply a matter of updating load balancer rules and enabling the site through DNS to make it live.
The Vitamix team was an early adopter of responsive design. This requires a highly structured data set that can be styled to work on various screen sizes. We built out the data structures that could be easily managed in the BCC, and the UI team consumed that data and styled it as necessary. We made the decision to minimize the number of tools the marketing and merchandising teams used by locating all content management activities in the BCC, while using Experience Manager to handle the layout management.
The project delivery team was a collaboration between Vitamix, Commerce Architects, and Cirrus10. Vitamix provided architectural input, as well as the front-end UI expertise. While all system integrators have strong opinions about how to implement Oracle Commerce, the Commerce Architects team was open to suggestions and feedback. For example, the Vitamix architects encouraged the implementation of the Circuit Breaker pattern to ensure high availability of the site. The Commerce Architects team took this suggestion and implemented the pattern for critical checkout integrations. This type of partnership and collaboration helped to ensure the final product fit the needs and desires of the Vitamix leadership team.
Project Delivery Methodology
The Commerce Architects and Cirrus10 teams utilize a proven method for project delivery. The first steps are to document as many requirements as possible, do a firm estimate of time and resources required to deliver the functionality, and then begin an agile development process. Jira tickets were created for all development tasks to allow for easy tracking of progress during development. The development effort was spread over 4 iterations with a demo delivered at the end of each iteration. This allowed all parties to see progress along the way, and to course-correct on any features or functionality that needed to change. Business users were introduced to the BCC well before launch and participated in the initial data setup.
The major benefit of using the Commerce Architects and Cirrus10 teams is that the launch is just the beginning, and not the end. Instead of fighting fires nonstop after launch, we were planning and developing new features and functionality on a solid, scalable, and stable commerce platform.
Our team remained engaged in feature development, and over the course of several years, we helped to implement additional features and functionality. One notable feature was the implementation of a prototype Alexa skill, proving out an integration between Oracle Commerce and the Amazon Web Services resources used in developing an Alexa skill. Through our work with Vitamix, we proved our ability to provide full lifecycle development work and support across any desired feature set.