Koala Integrates its Developer Tools with AWS to Improve the Customer Experience
For Koala, a leading Australia-based global ecommerce furniture brand, the customer always comes first. The company specializes in delivering new furniture quickly to the customer’s door and offering a 120-day trial service for people to test mattresses and other products before purchasing. “We’re completely focused on creating a unique customer experience,” says Michael Zavattaro, associate engineering manager at Koala.
To better serve its customers, Koala wanted to create a new solution that featured more frequent product updates and shipping information. “We’d previously had an ecommerce website, but wanted to create an entire ecommerce platform that delivered a better customer experience,” says Andrew Sladen, director of engineering at Koala. Using the company’s previous architecture, developers sometimes struggled to roll out new features in a timely fashion. “There were some things we couldn’t do on the old technology stack,” Zavattaro says. “For example, changing copy or content to reflect new products required an entire site rebuild. And if a new product launch didn’t go smoothly, we had to wait days to rebuild the site. Overall, we wanted to be more agile so we could more quickly provide a feature-rich customer experience.”
There was nothing in AWS that made it difficult to go outside the ecosystem for any particular task. Everything integrates easily.”
Director of Engineering, Koala
Building a New Ecommerce Platform Using AWS and Third-Party Technologies
For several years, Koala successfully ran its primary ecommerce website on Amazon Web Services (AWS), using AWS services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for data storage and Amazon CloudFront as its global content delivery network (CDN). “The site was simple to manage and nimble, and we had a great overall experience with AWS in terms of reliability. That’s how we knew AWS could provide us with the tools we needed to increase our developer flexibility as we built out a new ecommerce platform,” says Sladen.
Specifically, Koala saw that AWS would integrate seamlessly with commercetools, the cloud-based commerce technology solution it chose to power its new platform. “commercetools provides API extensions for integration with different services we use such as GraphQL, which integrated very well with AWS,” says Sladen. It built a new ecommerce web platform with AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) for managing and scaling containerized application clusters. “We have a few containers in each Amazon ECS task: one for the website application server and another for the GraphQL server,” says Sladen. Koala uses Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) to automate scaling and Amazon CloudFront for CDN capabilities. The newly built Koala ecommerce platform supports websites for the Australian, Japanese, and South Korean markets.
Cutting Development Time in Half
Koala developers more easily created the new platform because of the integration of AWS with third-party technologies. “We set up GraphQL services on the platform’s backend that pull data from outside the AWS ecosystem to third-party content management and commerce systems,” Sladen explains. “Hosting that on AWS and pulling all the data together to make the final page experience was effortless. There was nothing in AWS that made it difficult to go outside the ecosystem for any particular task. Everything integrates easily.”
Koala’s software engineers rely on AWS Fargate, a serverless compute engine that automates virtual server management. “With AWS Fargate, we simply build and register the containers and AWS Fargate automatically updates which Amazon ECS instance to point to,” says Sladen.
With AWS Fargate, Koala is supporting its continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline and reducing overall software development time. “We have saved 50 percent of our development time by using AWS Fargate and our CI/CD model,” says Sladen. “It was very easy for our DevOps team to code one pipeline that ran the main instance and another for deployment.”
Speeding Time to Market for New Products
Koala has reduced the effort required to launch new products and update the site by using AWS, which gives content producers complete control and eliminates the need for engineering resources. For example, one of the company’s markets was overstocked with a product, and the product sales team decided to target sales more carefully. The UX Design and Content Production team, with no developer involvement, went live with a new product in 7 hours, from decision to execution. This would’ve previously taken a minimum of three weeks.
Improving the Customer Experience
By running its new ecommerce platform on AWS, Koala can better serve its global customers. “With our new site, they get more up-to-date content and new product information because we’ve drastically reduced the time it takes to make changes on the website,” says Zavattaro. “We can now provide a more feature-rich experience for customers. In addition, the platform is incredibly stable on AWS. We launched without a hitch, with no outages or downtime. Customers were able to purchase products from day one.”
Koala will continue using AWS to expand globally, launch new products, and create new features that support the company’s customer-first approach. Concludes Sladen, “We’re looking at using AWS to carry out more projects with our internal sales service program and expand what we’re doing with the platform overall. With AWS, we can further streamline processes and expand into new areas that we couldn’t before.”
To Learn More
To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/retail/digital-commerce.
Koala is a global furniture company based in Australia. Koala's mission is to provide better furniture experiences, designed with the World in mind. The company combines customer-centric products, a technology and fulfillment platform, customer service, and social good.
Benefits of AWS
- Seamlessly integrates AWS services with third-party developer tools
- Cuts development time in half
- Launches new product in 7 hours instead of three weeks
- Provides customers a better experience
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Container Service
Amazon ECS is a fully managed container orchestration service that makes it easy for you to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications.
Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery network (CDN) service built for high performance, security, and developer convenience.
Elastic Load Balancing
Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets and virtual appliances in one or more Availability Zones (AZs).
AWS Fargate is a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine that lets you focus on building applications without managing servers.
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