The success of an e-commerce business highly depends on its chosen hosting service. It directly influences end user experience such as page load speed, how the site copes with variable traffic loads during peak demand, and how much resources the business needs to invest in development, optimization, and system management. In short, choosing the wrong hosting service can end your e-commerce business.
Matching China is a successful e-commerce business established over 15 years ago. As the business grew, their off-the-shelf e-commerce platform could no longer meet their needs. It didn't contain the necessary functionality out-of-the-box and was too hard to extend or modify. At the same time, they were losing sales because their hosting servers were frequently down or unreliable, and despite trying several hosting providers each offered very poor support at the times it was needed most!
Matching China developed their own bespoke e-commerce platform to support their continued growth, and by migrating to Jelastic PaaS hosting provided by Layershift now have reliable servers backed by an attentive support team. Gordy Bone, co-founder of Matching China shared his experience and discussed the benefits this change provided to his business.
Who are Matching China?
We are a niche, family-run e-commerce business, established in 2002, specializing in retailing discontinued and discounted china tableware. Since the inception of the business, we have served tens of thousands of customers from all over the world including TV celebrities, business moguls and former supermodels (okay, only one former supermodel :))
Having used an off-the-shelf commerce solution (augmented with custom PHP-based administration systems) for a number of years, we decided to migrate to a fully bespoke system. We deployed to our Jelastic environments from the first iteration, and the new systems went live early in 2018.
Why did you develop your own bespoke e-commerce platform?
We started out using off-the-shelf, but there was an inevitable mismatch in requirements. Off-the-shelf platforms seek to cater for the needs of a wide variety of businesses, so there was a lot of unused functionality that just got in our way and caused unnecessary complexity. At the same time there is no way for the developers of such systems to anticipate our every need, so we missed some crucial functionality.
In particular, the vast majority of off-the-shelf products use the section as their primary abstraction. In our old implementation that mapped to both brands and patterns; two quite different concepts. This resulted in data duplication and architectural fragility. The limited extensibility/modifiability of our LAMP-based e-commerce system was sufficient reason to warrant a change.
One of the fundamental characteristics of successful architectures is that they represent the fundamental problem domain (business) concepts faithfully. Developing our systems from the ground up enabled us to get the domain model right, allowing a more flexible and maintainable architecture.
What stacks is your e-commerce platform built on?
The tech stack for our application is fairly straightforward. We have a Tomcat instance with an NGINX load balancer and MariaDB for the persistence layer. Our development language is Java, and our system is monolithic. It's a Spring MVC web application deployed in a WAR file.
Why did you choose Java?
Before starting development we weighed up the benefits of a number of languages including PHP and Python. Given that the majority of our professional development experience has been in Java, we leaned heavily in that direction (since familiarity with a language tends to lead to a higher productivity). Speed and security were also strong points as far as Java was concerned. The crucial factor in our decision, though, was the availability of established web/application frameworks. I am a huge fan of Spring, the de facto framework in the Java ecosystem, so all-in-all the choice of language was not a difficult one.
What made you move from VPS to Jelastic PaaS?
We wanted to simplify our deployment process, and we needed to create and clone environments easily.
Jelastic solved both concerns. We now have the ability to clone environments with ease or modify topology (e.g horizontal/vertical scaling, changing persistence-layer technology or Java version etc.) - none of which were available to us with our previous VPS host. There are so many features in Jelastic that weren't available in our VPS environment. One simple feature that I appreciate is being able to view log files without having to access the server via SSH.
The Jelastic administration panel is outstanding and very full-featured, deployments are straightforward, and it’s amazing how easy it is to manage and configure environments. I also love that we don't pay for unused resources. Billing is very transparent.
When moving to Jelastic, we chose Layershift as our hosting provider. Layershift’s outstanding customer service and technical support were evident from the outset, which we very much appreciated.
How does your experience hosting with Layershift compare to your previous providers?
We used a few different providers over the years, generally moving on due to poor customer service or poor reliability. Server downtime means lost orders, and unfortunately, we experienced unacceptable levels of downtime from several providers.
To say that we’re satisfied with Layershift would be a considerable understatement! From the first interaction, their customer service was excellent, and their support is second-to-none.
What is the cost difference?
We were delighted to find that although Jelastic provides us with hugely better functionality (and Layershift provides significantly better support), the costs are much the same as they were with our VPS provider.
Your general impression and highlights of using the platform
Jelastic makes deploying and managing web applications easy and enjoyable. There aren’t too many companies that I would recommend wholeheartedly, but Jelastic and Layershift are definitely among them.
Looking for stable, reliable, easy-to-manage and cost-effective cloud hosting with the high level of support for your e-commerce projects? Follow the lead of Matching China and try out Jelastic PaaS offered by service providers worldwide.