One Thousand Orders Per Minute: Peak Retail Planning and Architecture from VTEX and Grupo Éxito
By Sorana Gheorghiade, Marketing Associate at VTEX
Grupo Éxito is one of the biggest retailers in Latin America, with more than 2,600 physical retail stores across the continent that use VTEX to sell a wide range of products, from grocery and appliances to fashion and accessories.
In 2019, Éxito chose to migrate from Oracle ATG to VTEX and move their operations to a more flexible software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. VTEX’s decade-long collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) proved to be a decisive factor for Éxito.
On Monday, May 19, 2020, the Colombian government announced they were removing value-added tax (VAT, or IVA in Spanish) from select retail categories during three 24-hour events to help boost the economy post COVID-19 lockdown.
With VAT in Colombia at 19 percent, this entailed a significant discount off normal prices, with retailers anticipating a huge increase in transactions on those days.
VTEX, working alongside AWS, became a key business partner for over 200 Colombian stores, capable of supporting the traffic and order peaks generated by these new retail events, and helped retailers regain their pre-pandemic growth quotas.
VTEX is an AWS ISV Partner with the Retail Competency. We help companies in retail, manufacturing, wholesale, groceries, consumer packaged goods, and other verticals to sell more, operate more efficiently, scale seamlessly, and deliver remarkable customer experience.
VTEX’s modern microservices-based architecture and powerful business and developer tools allow the company to future-proof customers’ businesses and free them from software updates.
The first two VAT-free events (or Día sin IVA, in Spanish) took place on June 19 and July 3, 2020. Grupo Éxito’s orders and sessions skyrocketed, reaching more than 1,000 orders per minute. Accommodating an unprecedented amount of transactions on such short notice posed a challenge for the average retailer in Colombia.
One of the main concerns of every online retailer during high traffic events is the platform’s capacity and recovery time in case of a crash. With VTEX’s tools supported by AWS services, Grupo Éxito had nothing to worry about.
Éxito’s site is powered by VTEX IO, a serverless development platform built on AWS. This blueprint of interdependencies, where AWS provides VTEX with the right cloud features to respond to Exito’s online business demands, made preparing for and selling during the tax-free days event a smooth and flawless process. The key to this achievement was scalability.
Why VTEX Builds on AWS
There has been a rise in the number of specialized cloud services that aid industries in creating value by being easily configured to meet specific business requirements. VTEX, in particular, has been working with AWS for the past 10 years. Their platform runs its multi-tenant stack on AWS, which grants enough flexibility (scaling both vertically and horizontally) to cater to customers’ needs, especially during high volume events.
There are many reasons why the collaboration between VTEX and AWS works. The VTEX team is always ready to discover new functionalities within AWS that boost VTEX’s own architecture. Learning from experience and from AWS, VTEX has developed expertise in cloud and advanced web microservices ahead of other platforms on the market.
This collaboration laid the foundation of a multi-tenant SaaS solution, capable of simplifying decisions regarding infrastructure for over 3,000 stores in 42 countries.
Over the last couple of years, VTEX launched VTEX IO, an enterprise low-code development platform with tools that offer scalable and personalized application deployment for merchants to achieve their business goals faster.
Why Grupo Éxito Chose VTEX
As a multi-tenant platform, every service that VTEX uses from AWS is available to all its customers.
VTEX uses AWS Elastic Beanstalk to scale out resources and split responsibilities, and AWS WAF and Amazon CloudFront to handle all of the edge load. VTEX also uses Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for databases, Amazon OpenSearch Service (successor to Amazon Elasticsearch Service) for NoSQL data, Redis for cache, and Elastic Load Balancing and others that facilitate the process of perfecting the platform to drive the best results for customers.
When you think about scalability, what probably comes to mind are the many different services running concomitantly on the platform. When you think about e-commerce, it’s not just a server on which you put your website. There are more than 50 different microservices working for your platform.
When you are navigating through your website, you use more than five microservices performing different tasks at once. All of them have their own particularities and need to scale in different ways. Databases, search systems, payment methods—all of these scale according to VTEX internal infrastructure and the architecture it chooses.
The reason why VTEX and AWS work so well together is that VTEX’s platform can use the cloud services offered by AWS in the best way. This allows the customer—Grupo Éxito—to manage more requests per second, making a high ticketing event run smoothly and efficiently.
In the case of Día sin IVA, the pattern VTEX followed is the same, anticipating just a bit more and improving the code to optimize for the upcoming sale event.
Results and Benefits
In Colombia, Grupo Éxito has been using VTEX’s marketplace platform capabilities to allow more than 1,000 retailers to connect and sell their products, extend their reach, and ease customer access to an extensive variety of products in a single place.
Together with other features such as VTEX Intelligent Search (a fine-tuning search system), Éxito has received positive feedback by making the migration from Oracle ATG to VTEX. They have also experienced continuous improvements, culminating with the Día sin IVA series.
Orders were managed easily, transactions saw no impediment, and the entire massive online shopping experience was a triple success—for the customer, the partner, and ultimately for every single shopper.
Grupo Éxito is not VTEX’s only Colombian client, so everything that was happening to the store on such a large scale was also occurring nationwide. Since VTEX is a multi-tenant SaaS platform, all of the 3,000 stores on the platform were operating at the same time, without a hitch—even with Colombian merchants, including Éxito, selling at peak volume.
When retail events of such magnitude occur, VTEX merchants such as Grupo Éxito already have the AWS resources they need at the ready. VTEX customers do not need to make further investments in infrastructure, and can grow organically as their computing needs increase without paying for additional resources.
Peak trading periods increase the demand to maintain a scalable and reliable environment for customers using the platform. AWS has worked alongside VTEX through engineering committees, paving the way to successful dialogue with product engineers and product owners at AWS.
The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.
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VTEX is an AWS Advanced Technology Partner and multi-tenant commerce platform that unifies customer experiences across all channels into a comprehensive enterprise solution.
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