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How DevOps Helps E-commerce Businesses Gain a Competitive Edge

E-commerce industry leaders have proved their mettle in the market with continuous delivery of customer-centric services in a dynamic landscape. Niche e-commerce players that have succeeded in gaining a foothold in this highly competitive space are differentiated by their ability to consistently satisfy customer expectations.

Rapid change in technology has significantly altered the customer’s experience and expectations. Fulfilling these new expectations, however, is challenging. What allows e-commerce businesses to thrive in this scenario? It is the obsession with customer satisfaction.

There are various ways in which a customer can access the shopping experience electronically, ranging from laptops to mobiles and tablets to interactive displays. These devices vary in screen size, pixel resolution, and other aspects. Customers expect the same or very similar online shopping experience across devices. They often switch between devices and expect a seamless transition from the one to the other.

In addition, the customers expect to be able to easily check for items available in stock, compare prices and read reviews by other customers. The sheer volume of data involved in this process makes it challenging for the back-end team to update and maintain all the information. Augmented reality has also been in demand as customers want to try on clothes virtually, customize products online by mixing and matching features, preview placement of furniture or other items, etc.

For the developers, this raises the challenge of amending, enhancing and deploying the existing software with the least number of bugs. As customer expectations and online shopping experiences continue to evolve, most e-commerce teams are required to make continuous changes in the code – for adding new features, for improving the performance of the current system, etc.

Needless to say, all this requires additional resources at a time when the competition is high and businesses are under pressure to keep costs down. In these circumstances, the success of an e-commerce company depends on the IT team’s ability to deliver quality services on time and within budget.

How DevOps can help e-commerce teams achieve their goals

Challenges discussed above can be resolved by applying the DevOps methodology. It functions as a bridge between the development team and the operations team. To achieve the goal of frequent and fast deployment in close alignment to customer requirements, DevOps focuses on improved communication, collaboration, and performance.

DevOps primarily focuses on ‘fixing directly in production’. The programs are taken in small chunks and written, executed, checked and deployed with increased collaboration between the development and operations staff. When implemented correctly, this helps to increase the efficiency of the process and enables teams to ship new features and products faster.

Along with development, continuous testing is a critical part of DevOps. Tools like Selenium, Appium, Python Robot Framework, TestNG are used to achieve continuous testing. This is often followed by deployment through tools like Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Docker, etc.

What does DevOps include? How does it impact e-commerce development and testing? Let’s take a close look at some of its key ingredients and their relevance in e-commerce development.

1) Iterative deployments: In the e-commerce industry, websites need to be upgraded frequently, which means that the need for frequent deployments is common. Once the process is robust enough, deployment in DevOps can be continuous, without human intervention or with minimal human inputs. The code is then directly deployed into the live environment.

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2) Automated testing: Automated testing ensures that the code being delivered is as per the desired blueprint and that it doesn’t introduce new bugs to the system. The aim is to receive consistent feedback that further leads to a stable e-commerce platform, which is able to deliver a great user experience.

3) Continuous integration: This is the practice to integrate new code into the mainline once or many times every day – instead of adding it all at once towards the end. The new code is tested repeatedly to ensure that it doesn’t impact the existing code, ensuring that the system continues to function smoothly.

4) Incremental cycles: As discussed, in the e-commerce industry, the requirement for change is frequent. DevOps, when blended with Agile, focuses on rapid and incremental cycles of development. This is effective in managing the need for almost constant changes. Using incremental cycles, small chunks of code can be written and deployed to rapidly test and deploy a specific feature or functionality.

5) Collaborative approach: A culture of collaboration is essential if teams are to ship new, bug-free functionalities and features on a regular, consistent basis. Development, Operations, and Quality all need to come together to minimize the chance of bug creeping into the system and to rapidly resolve any issues that crop up.

Benefits of using DevOps in e-commerce

Primarily, DevOps helps to increase the overall productivity for e-commerce development projects. The productivity is measured by calculating the increase in output over time utilized by the development team for quality checks and deployments. The following are some of the key benefits of using DevOps compared to traditional methods:

1) Innovation and transformation

DevOps makes it possible to deploy innovative solutions faster. It helps businesses to deliver upgrades and new features faster than the competition. From development to deployment and release, every process is sequential. Devops connects each and every phase in sequential traditional SDLC. The interconnection between Development, Operations departments ensures dependencies doesn’t impact the quality and pace of releasing new updates.

2) Breaking the barrier between departments

The major advantage of introducing DevOps methodology is that it breaks the wall between IT and operations, helping to remove the clot in the process of deployment. It replaces the traditional method of one department completing all the tasks associated with a project before handing the baton to the other team (process handover). The result is a more dynamic approach to system development and deployment.

3) Improved customer satisfaction

The ultimate goal of DevOps is to increase productivity and deliver software in less time. In other words, tackling a high volume of amendments with ease. Customers expect and demand exceptional experience for each and every digital medium. DevOps helps meeting these expectations with the prompt delivery of new, bug-free features.

4) Responsiveness to ever-changing demands

DevOps enables a culture of agility. Its tools and practices help to reduce the time from whiteboard to production. This allows e-commerce businesses to accelerate go-to-market by enabling them to roll out new features to customers at much higher frequencies. Adapting and implementing DevOps is like shaking hands with velocity.

Having expertise in the e-commerce industry, we accelerate cloud adoption through DevOps workflow automation and by creating a continuous integration and deployment pipeline. We have helped many industry leaders to implement DevOps and reap the benefits associated with this approach. With eInfochips’ DevOps Consulting Services and QA and Test Automation, you can ship bug-free features while reducing the turnaround times.

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