INSIGHTS SCAYLE: A look behind the innovative e-commerce platform
René Dalock has been Director Projects and Key Accounts | SCAYLE - Commerce Engine at ABOUT YOU since April 2021. In an interview with our Tech Blog, he talks about his personal fascination for the topic of e-commerce, his professional career and, of course, our e-commerce infrastructure called SCAYLE.
I have studied business informatics – among other things, because I have always found the enormous growth potential of e-commerce companies exciting and I could imagine doing something similar as a career early on. At the time, eBay was going through the roof in Germany and I was fascinated by the potential scaling effects and the complex IT behind it early on. After graduating, I first worked for IBM and BCG Platinion and gained great experience in many projects. At some point, I stumbled across ABOUT YOU, thought it was an extremely innovative e-commerce start-up and jumped at the chance to move into project management for the new ABOUT YOU e-commerce platform (at that time still called "ABOUT YOU Cloud").
Today, many years later, ABOUT YOU is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and we operate an extremely mature e-commerce framework with SCAYLE. I am now "Director Projects and Key Accounts | SCAYLE - Commerce Engine (SCAYLE)" and responsible for the SCAYLE technology division. In the meantime, more than 100 colleagues work with me in the SCAYLE team and we operate more than 100 online shops for our SCAYLE clients on our platform.
SCAYLE - What is that actually?
What many people don't know is that ABOUT YOU is not only an extremely successful fashion online shop under aboutyou.com, but we also developed our own e-commerce platform from the beginning in such a modular way that we now adapt and operate it on a large scale under the SCAYLE brand for other large corporate customers as a licensed SaaS solution. Our customers include Marc O'Polo, Depot and Tom Tailor, for example. They all operate their shops on our SCAYLE platform, and thus, "actually" use the technology that is also behind aboutyou.com.
ABOUT YOU is now divided into three separate technology divisions:
- SCAYLE: our e-commerce platform as a SaaS solution
- COMMERCE: our own aboutyou.com shop
- CORE: our product development for the core product
SCAYLE is my division. I take care of the teams that onboard large corporate customers on our SCAYLE technology stack. With us in the SCAYLE team, there are primarily project managers and business analysts, solution architects and developers for frontend and backend solutions.
Together with the customers, we look at the following questions:
- What are the exact requirements for the e-commerce system?
- What adaptation effort is required for this? (Building shop front-ends, building middleware, connecting third-party systems)
- How can we optimally ensure onboarding and a smooth migration?
We have invested a lot in onboarding and migration in recent years and can now provide individualised test systems for our customers within a very short time. This allows us to minimise risks and coordination difficulties from the outset. Many potential customers often only have aboutyou.com in mind and cannot initially imagine that SCAYLE has grown into a mature SaaS e-commerce platform that offers so many more possibilities than "just" running a fashion online shop. In the meantime, however, we can provide quick insights into solutions with an uncomplicated test system and practical examples and, thus, give our customers a good feeling.
Another task of my team is to ensure that the operation of the shops that are live and the cooperation with our customers runs optimally. From proactive communication to invoicing, a lot can come together and, in addition to our technically high-quality solution, we also want to be a long-term, reliable partner that is a pleasure to work with.
The SCAYLE effect
As you might guess from the name SCAYLE: our SCAYLE platform is highly available and scales by default. Downtimes during updates and problems with load peaks during TV advertising or newsletter distribution are a thing of the past for our customers. The entire platform is designed from the ground up for extreme, dynamic loads and regular updates, and automatically scales with the requirements.
At the same time, it is very important to us not to waste unnecessary resources and to ensure the most efficient operation possible for us and our customers. Therefore, SCAYLE runs on state-of-the-art cloud technology on AWS with dynamic load balancing, but at the same time clean customer separation and high-quality security standards.
What also makes SCAYLE so unique is that all improvements and learnings from the operation of aboutyou.com and our customers flow directly back into the further development of the SCAYLE platform. Feature requests, for example, are jointly recorded and prioritised by our SCAYLE and COMMERCE teams. In the implementation of interfaces and features, we always ensure that we make everything generic and optimally usable for every use case. As a result, our SCAYLE implementation teams can already implement many special requests and cases independently on our standard interfaces or as a plug-in for our SCAYLE administration interface for the customer without having to bend our core system.
Individualisation through APIs and own apps
What we also often do is to use our know-how to constructively question the procedures and feature requests of our SCAYLE customers: is it actually smart how you are currently doing it or could we not replace it much more efficiently with one of our best practices? For example, we have invested heavily in "composable products" in recent months and can now offer our customers complex product functions such as a "jersey configurator" without having to develop it individually for them. Our customers have, so to speak, the entire wealth of experience from the development and operation of aboutyou.com at their disposal.
There is also the possibility to extend SCAYLE with customer-specific apps (similar to the App Store ecosystem at Apple). Here, we always look at the customer's requirement beforehand and clarify whether we really need to develop an individual app just for the customer or whether an already existing app from our modular system can be activated for this purpose. For the seamless connection of many common third-party systems (such as Mailjet or Emarsys), we have ready-made apps that can be activated with just a few clicks.
Why SCAYLE and how to start?
Besides our brand promise, one of the main arguments for SCAYLE is that everything is from one source. Our extremely strong SCAYLE implementation team and their experiences they share with us are unique in the market. For many of our customers, switching to a new e-commerce platform involves enormous risks. In this case it’s good to know that you are working with a team that is centrally responsible for everything from the platform to onboarding and operations. In case we outsource tasks, we have a fantastic partner agency that has the same quality standards as we do.
As a potential customer, however, you should already have a turnover of around EUR 20 million, so that a collaboration with us makes sense in terms of the cost/benefit ratio. In this environment, we often compete with Salesforce or commercetools.
Those who are considering SCAYLE will be pleased to hear that it is not very difficult to implement. Basically, there are three integration points in the platform that we discuss with our customers:
1 Storefront API
This is where the frontend of the shop is connected. The frontend can be operated with our storefront-core project, which we also use for aboutyou.com, or developed in-house according to your own requirements with common solutions such as Frontastic or VueStorefront.
2 Admin API
This is our interface to migrate inventory data to the SCAYLE platform, such as products, prices, stock levels, configure internal SCAYLE application from outside, methods for connecting external systems (e.g. Mailchimp, Emarsys,...)
3 Add-On Store
Here you can implement your own extensions for the SCAYLE Control Panel. Example: The management of complex customer accounts (including the administration of complex customer contracts). Currently, our specialised onboarding teams build the custom apps in consultation with our customers. However, we are in the process of establishing partnerships with agencies that can then also develop apps for SCAYLE.
When it comes to topics such as "migrating legacy data," and you are wondering whether your data is safe with SCAYLE, the clear answer is "yes". Due to our clean multi-tenant environment and the organisational separation of SCAYLE and COMMERCE, neither SCAYLE teams have access to COMMERCE data, nor COMMERCE teams have access to SCAYLE data.
We have been developing and operating our e-commerce platform since 2017 – first under the name "ABOUT YOU Cloud", then "ABOUT YOU Commerce Suite" and now "SCAYLE". We are really serious about this: SCAYLE is not just a small business on the side but a fundamental part of our corporate strategy – because we are building the most innovative scaling e-commerce platform for high-growth e-commerce companies. Over the next few years, we will invest primarily in the internationalisation of our platform, but also build an agency network to implement SCAYLE for customers together. I am already looking forward to that!
Do you want to find out more about our product? Check it out on our dedicated website here!