Monoliths are incapable of keeping pace with globally scaling businesses. Headless architecture, based on an API-first approach, better serves the needs of businesses that are experiencing some success and want to take quick advantage of their new potential. We’re going to take a look at one such business, looking at how LoveCrafts enabled faster global expansion by migrating from Magento to commercetools with our partner.
About the company LoveCrafts has been running since 2012 and is both a global community for makers and the number one destination for knitting and crochet supplies—a place for crafters to feel inspired, connected, and find every little thing they need. In 2019, the rapidly expanding business combined its two separate sites together to create LoveCrafts. Vist the site: LoveCrafts.com
The LoveCrafts technology stack
The transactional part of LoveCrafts is still run by Magento and they have spent many years scaling it from both an infrastructural and functional perspective. There has been significant investment over the years to allow LoveCrafts to run a truly global business at scale with multi-warehousing and a proper multi-currency and taxation, as well as with performance tweaks for indexing, caching, bulk changes, and rendering.
Magento is only one part of a stack. The company used Symfony and other technologies to create bespoke community and content sections of their site. There is also a good set of internal systems running both business and infrastructure processes and AWS cloud using various AWS services.
Why LoveCrafts decided to go with commercetools
commercetools was perhaps an inevitable choice, given their open-minded API-first approach. However, it was not a quick step. LoveCrafts had to take into account all possible long-term scenarios, consequences, and challenges associated with the migration.
The goal was to choose a platform that covers current needs but would also allow the company to scale without needing to migrate for up to a decade. After considering 30 platforms, mostly those suggested by the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester, LoveCrafts chose only 10 to review in more detail by speaking to solution architects and going through each of our requirements.
The main factors for migrating from Magento to commercetools were:
◼ API-only approach
◼ GraphQL support
◼ Modularity – when something does not meet your expectations or you have new use cases, you do not need to do a full migration again
◼ Comprehensive documentation
◼ Fitting the requirements of the business
◼ Sensible and scalable product data model – e.g. translations are represented in localizable attributes rather than requiring a new store
◼ Flexible pricing
◼ Staging capability for product data
◼ A human approach to business with no marketing gibberish
Staying on Magento 1 was not an option due to the imminent end-of-life. The data migration to Magento 2 might have been more simple but it poses many of the same problems as its predecessor in the database structure. The team would have to rewrite all customizations and performance improvements again, thus risking worse performance. And, at the end, there always be that question hanging over the business about the true potential of the platform to easily scale if needed.
Choosing a Vue Storefront frontend
The joined forces of Vue Storefront and commercetools turned out to be the best way to provide LoveCrafts with the flexibility essential in the fast-paced eCommerce industry.
After deciding that migrating from Magento to commercetools was the right direction for the business, they needed to choose a frontend for the new headless architecture. They had four options: extended the community frontend built on Symfony and Backbone, use traditional CMS with a commercetools integration, build their own frontend or build on top of an existing but modern and flexible backend-agnostic frontend.
Adding Vue Storefront to the commercetools base offered the flexibility that LoveCrafts identified as being essential in the fast-paced eCommerce industry.
“A colleague mentioned Vue Storefront to me and we were excited straightaway. We discussed that VSF is relying on normalization to be backend-agnostic, so things like product data are indexed into an ElasticSearch cluster which VSF can read from.Halil Köklü, CTO at LoveCrafts
“commercetools already has great APIs so we didn’t need that but the team pitched Vue Storefront Next to me on the spot. It interacts with backends through contracts, each integration responsible to implement the contract. These contracts are composable, so you can swap loading e.g. categories from a different backend than products. Or you can go and build your own composable. It sounded exciting, almost too good.”
Read more from Halil in our whitepaper: Download the whitepaper now
A step by step overview of migrating from Magento to commercetools
LoveCrafts believe in sustainable product development so an internal team was involved in the implementation process, each of whom was prepared for the project and attended commercetools training. An architecture review group was formed to compare the team’s approaches to pull requests with the company’s internal documentation. The goal was to find consensus before implementation, to avoid surprises later.
Transferring eight years of development into a new stack wouldn’t be as easy and fast, so the team had to descope as much as they could. For the user experience, they went through a prioritization process to decide which features would be in the minimum viable product, which would follow, and which would be removed completely. They committed to make as few changes as possible to the backend to avoid disruption and keep the scope small.
The decision was to sync as much data as possible from Magento to commercetools. To make sure that the infrastructure, CI, logging tools, and so on are working, a platform team was created and they constantly try to automate their work. The enterprise systems team takes care of the majority of the internal products including the ERP, PIM, and BI tooling.
Want to know more about LoveCrafts migrating from Magento to commercetools?
Find out more about the background to LoveCrafts choosing commercetools and the benefits of the new solutions? You can watch the full webinar interview between Piotr Karwatka, co-founder of VueStorefront and CTO at Divante, and Halil Köklü, CTO at LoveCrafts. You can also download and read the full whitepaper which talks about headless architecture and why it makes sense when taking a business global.