Advanced marketing automation software produced by hundreds of developers is helping e-commerce giants increase their advantage over other online and offline businesses. 1:1 personalization reflected in everyday promotional campaigns allows them to win new customers and retain existing ones at scale. With limited resources and budget, the e-commerce peloton is struggling to fight back. To accelerate their marketing campaigns, they tap into 2 opposing solutions. Either they buy an out-of-the-box solution or build one in-house from scratch. At the end of the day, neither of them gives optimal results. Purchased platforms end up being too rigid to adapt to ever-changing customer habits whilst the in-house software quickly becomes unmaintainable, reducing their time to market value.
To reduce development costs while ensuring business adaptivity, Voucherify team devised an in-between solution; Voucherify offers an API-first platform which helps small development teams build powerful promotional campaigns in days instead of months. At the same time, the dashboard enables marketing teams to launch, monitor, and analyze every campaign on their own. So far, hundreds of forward-thinking companies have subscribed to Voucherify and successfully personalized their coupon, referral, discount, and loyalty campaigns at a fraction of the cost of the alternatives we discussed.
Heroku and Early Days
The story of Voucherify begins in 2015. While working with one of the fast-growing startups in Berlin, Book A Tiger, the team discovered the need for an API-first coupon management system. But it wasn’t the only thing they took away. Book A Tiger also taught them how to successfully ship software in a fast-paced environment. Their platform was based on Heroku and Salesforce all the way.
From the get-go, Voucherify team hosted all of their services on Heroku Platform shared machines. The fast deployment process and the cost-effective setup was particularly useful to launch and test new features with the early adopters. Heroku took the burden of configuration and monitoring off the developers’ shoulders. It also provided dozens of pre-built addons to the most popular software tools out there, like New Relic, Postgres, LogEntries or Compose. These features helped Voucherify build a reliable product which attracted the first enterprise clients.
With them, the business and, in turn, the traffic started to grow. The Heroku autoscaling mechanisms helped us handle the load for the API without any effort from our dev team, let alone needing to hire a devops engineer. To ensure redundancy, get more control over the resource utilization, and make debugging easier we moved some services to AWS-based managed instances. But the services which were subject to several deployments a day remained hosted on Heroku shared services.
Heroku and Salesforce
Besides scalability issues, the growth has also introduced organizational complexity. Invoices, customer preferences, pricing plans, limits, usage reports, onboarding progress monitoring, and many more — “operations” have become a nightmare to maintain. Voucherify considered several tools to automate these activities but ended up with Salesforce. There were 3 reasons behind this decision:
- Salesforce is a mature solution and the team had SF experience from previous projects
- it provides a profound API and is developer friendly
- Heroku Connect can sync SF data with an external database
The last point was extremely useful for providing an intuitive interface for all the repeatable account management tasks, reporting, and further marketing automation.
Heroku and GDPR/PCI
The GDPR and PCI policies brought new requirements for Voucherify. As the platform stores end-customer personal data, the new regulations made a shared-services hosting setup obsolete. Voucherify reached out to Heroku for a GDPR and PCI compliant offer. After considering a couple of options, the team has chosen Heroku Private Spaces. The new setup protects customers data by putting instances on the same AWS region and connecting them to their cluster via a secure tunnel. Heroku team was very responsive and provided guidance at every stage of the migration process.
Heroku and Future
The new setup (Salesforce, Heroku Connect, Private Spaces) helped Voucherify meet the current deployment, hosting, and data security requirements. At the same time, the new capabilities opened the platform for scalability not only when it comes to software but also operational activities. All of this with the pricing remaining suitable for a “grow” stage startup.