Four reasons to build your ecommerce site with a modern PaaS

Christopher Lockheardt
Christopher Lockheardt
Senior Content Manager
22 Apr 2021

Athletic eyewear retailer SportRx and upcycled bag manufacturer FREITAG have both built million-dollar ecommerce businesses powered by Platform.sh, the modern Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Here are four reasons why SportRx and FREITAG chose to build their ecommerce sites on top of a modern PaaS.

Higher performance leads to higher conversion rates

“Site performance has a direct impact on conversion rates,” says Saaed Fattahi, Director of Technology at SportRx. Studies bear that out. Digital marketing agency Portent found that website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time. Your customers visit your site to browse and buy, not to watch a loading screen icon endlessly spin. For maximum conversion rates, you need to keep your page load time to less than a second. That means building on an infrastructure that enables high performance.

Before switching to Platform.sh, SportRx constantly adjusted their software to speed up their page loads, but their infrastructure bogged down the process. “The site was constantly grinding to a halt anytime a crawler came through or the caches filled up,” says Fattahi.

When FREITAG migrated its site from the outdated architecture of its out-of-the-box ecommerce solution to Platform.sh, the improvement in performance immediately paid dividends. “Our mobile conversion rate increased by 25 percent,” says Irene Schlatter, Drupal Product Owner at FREITAG.

Scale to capture every sale

Online orders don’t arrive in a soothing, steady stream. Visitors to your site might slow to a trickle during the shopping doldrums, only to swamp your servers with orders during peak periods. For instance, in 2020, smaller online retailers experienced a 500 percent increase over their typical Cyber Monday sales volume.

During these deluges, you need to be able to scale your site capacity and performance so that every customer can proceed smoothly through to checkout. A PaaS like Platform.sh lets you increase and decrease your site server capacity, often automatically, to meet your traffic needs, so your site is always running at peak efficiency.

“Our website traffic increases by around 20 – 30 percent in November and December,” says Schlatter. “Platform.sh enables us to temporarily upsize over the holidays. It’s always been fast and easy and helped us to guarantee the stability of our site.”

SportRx also relies on the easy scaling supplied by Platform.sh. “Our Platform.sh environment easily and automatically scales out to meet the demands of the incoming web traffic,” says Fattahi. “I remember an incident shortly after we went live when a Google crawler slowed down the site, and Platform.sh automatically upscaled us to compensate.”

A stable site means stable revenue

The essential rule of ecommerce is “You can’t make money when your site’s down.” A few years ago, Costco lost up to $11 million when the site went offline right before the start of the Black Friday shopping season. While having your site go down is unlikely to cost you millions, it will cost you revenue that you can ill afford to lose. It can also cost you the confidence of your customers. Who wants to shop at a site that could come crashing down around them at any moment?

So keeping your site stable is essential to your business. But ecommerce sites are not static, unchanging things. You’re constantly adding new products and launching promotions and installing security patches, all which require taking at least some of the site offline for a time. And every change to a site has the potential to insert errors into the coding. How, then, can you maintain stability while your site is constantly in flux?

“We needed a platform that was both stable and flexible to quickly deploy, modify, and test new features in the live environment,” says Tonio Zemp of Liip, the Swiss digital agency that built FREITAG’s site. The Platform.sh cloning feature fit the bill.

Platform.sh lets you clone an exact copy of your production environment: the code, the data and all the services. While the original environment chugs along smoothly, you can use the clone to try out new feature ideas, customer requests, or hot fixes. If something goes wrong, make a new clone and try again. When you get your changes just right, Platform.sh lets you deploy them across all your applications. Your site remains stable and secure, even as it constantly evolves.

Rely on redundancy to keep running

Every minute of downtime for your ecommerce site is money taken out of your pocket. That’s why SportRx and FREITAG took notice of the Platform.sh 99.99 percent uptime guarantee. (When it comes to uptime, every digit counts. Did you know that a 99.8 percent uptime guarantee still allows for 17.5 hours of yearly downtime, while a 99.99 percent guarantee cuts downtime to less than an hour?)

Platform.sh can offer that guarantee because we make our environments triple-redundant to protect them against hardware failures. Triple redundancy keeps errors from taking your site down by supplying your production environment with three versions of your app. If one crashes, the other two will pick up the slack during the downtime. Tripe redundancy provided SportRx with a much needed peace of mind. “We could stop worrying about servers and data centers going down,” says Fattahi.

When you’re plotting the path to ecommerce success, it’s not always easy to know how to take that first, small step. But, if you want to follow in the footsteps of SportRx and FREITAG, a modern PaaS is a sure-footed way to start.