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Evolution : How ecommerce Platforms have changed over time

Evolution : How ecommerce Platforms have changed over time

“Everything changes and nothing stands still”, said Heraclitus. Nowhere is this more true than with Technology. In less than a generation, we have seen computing power change to a point where one does not need to be sitting in front of a large monitor to interact with the internet, we carry devices in our pockets that let us tap into the internet anywhere anytime. The internet itself has changed, it is much more ubiquitous, and is now evolving into an internet of things. Ecommerce platforms are no different, they are not immune to the forces of change that continually shape technology.

Take Demandware for example. It is a cloud based SaaS platform that enables customers to go live with their online stores quickly. And it has gone through its share of evolution over the years. Circa 2004, the first iteration of Demandware addressed the critical business problems of the time. Enable businesses to base their online stores on widely accepted best practices, with ease of customization of the look and feel, we got SiteGenesis. Enable business users and marketing teams to take control of how the store is run, and let IT teams focus on innovations/integrations. The revenue model launched with Demandware also demonstrated their commitment to customers success. They would only succeed if the customers online store succeeded and generated revenues. As mobile phones started getting slightly larger screens, and more users started getting online using mobile devices, Demandware added mobile sites to SiteGenesis.

Then came the other major change in response to the new technological landscape created by introduction of the iPhone and a whole slew of new touch devices. To be fair, this development changed the way we interacted with the internet at a fundamental level. And Demandware too responded to this changed environment. We got SiteGenesis2, a responsive avatar of the starter store. There was emphasis on UI customization as well, as a new Rich UI layer was created. Mobile sites were done away with, in step with the new mantra “Single content for all devices”. There were other changes too, in response to feedback from customers. We got shorter URL’s to help with SEO, Order handling was changed to more accurately calculate GMV etc. More details on the changes that came with SiteGenesis2 can be found at (link to SG1-SG2 blog). We saw platform evolution in action.

Now we are on the brink of another major evolutionary cycle. The technological environment has changed again. More and more customers are using mobile devices and tablets to interact with online stores. We no longer talk about customers using a second screen like a tablet while consuming traditional media like television. Customers now get online anywhere anytime, and want their brand interactions to be seamless and consistent. This puts speed, performance optimization and code reuse at the centre stage. Light weight pages and server side code is very important. Even a fraction of a second saved on a single operation will potentially translate to large impact on server resource loading. Any way developers can reuse and modularize the code, and any way the platform can enforce standards and best practices more efficiently, will lead to a more reliable and scalable platform. As Demandware is cloud based, multiple customers share same infrastructure resources. With this in mind, Demandware has unveiled a new model of development. The SiteGenesis2 wireframes are not changing, what is changing is the way the backend creates those pages. Demandware is moving away from the Graphical widget based way control flow was coded, and moving towards a pure syntax based building of server side components. This will help in establishing stricter controls on code style, make code reuse easier and make component driven development more intuitive.

Indeed we are living in exiting times, and as this new avatar of Demandware starts getting greater adoption, customers can look forward to building even more robust, scalable and resilient online stores.

About Gaurav Vashishta

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Gaurav is a senior manager in Adapty. He has more than a decade of experience across enterprise ecommerce platforms and deep experience with global retailers. He heads the Demandware practice at Adapty Inc.

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