14 Dec 2020 by Karol Kielecki
Saleor in Action: An Interview with A-dam
We talked with Timur Carpeev, the E-commerce Director at A-dam, to find out why they decided to use Saleor and how it’s helping them revolutionize their e-commerce business.
A-dam and Timur
Hey Timur! Before we ask some questions about your experience with Saleor, could you introduce yourself and your brand A-dam?
Timur: A-dam is a clothing brand, with a pinch of quirkiness, that is focused on producing high-quality ever-improving basics. Instead of making multiple variations of the same item, we take time to improve and perfect our designs over years. We do our best to source planet-friendly materials and produce clothing in a responsible manner. We always aim to keep things fun and positive which is reflected in our designs.
We started A-dam over five years ago and are currently being sold in around 700 stores across Europe. Over the past two years, our direct consumer revenue has grown rapidly and has become a core channel for the business.
Currently, we have only two developers in the company. We run Saleor on Google Cloud infrastructure using products like Kubernetes Engine, Cloud Build and Cloud SQL. With Kubernetes, we can deploy frequently without worrying about downtime, this helps to keep our team agile. Most of the development time is spent on improving our storefront which allows us to continue improving user experience on a daily basis.
Being a small company my role is quite broad and involves multiple disciplines such as marketing, design and development. I am basically involved in all aspects of e-commerce operations, alongside a small team of people.
In a single day, I can start out working on social media advertising and continue with dev-ops chores. While it can be overwhelming at the times, swapping multiple hats, it does help me to see the whole picture of business and technology as one unit. Being able to envision a feature and ship it within a few hours, keeps work fun and rewarding.
What e-commerce tools and platforms do you use on a daily basis?
Business-wise our absolute favorite tool is Metabase. This is an open-source BI platform that allows us to create reports and monitoring alerts. Together with Saleor’s simple and intuitive database structure, the tool helps our non-tech-savvy colleagues to build queries and interactive dashboards around sales, customers, inventory, etc. When it comes to running an e-commerce business, having frictionless access to insights is essential for productivity and decision making.
For customer support we use Intercom. This online-chat tool is directly accessible on our website and allows us to seamlessly connect with our customers. It helps us identify UX issues, gather insightful feedback and proactively offer assistance to our customers.
As a European company localization is an essential part of our store-front experience. We use the collaborative translation platform Phrase. It is part of our continuous integration which allows us to deliver text statically via our storefront.
For daily development tasks, we use Sentry to track issues among all our applications and Speedcurve to measure website performance regressions after each deployment.
What do you think about the future of e-commerce?
There are many trends and emerging technologies that have an impact on the way we shop. One trend I hope to see growing in the future is circular business models. I believe a circular economy can empower customers with higher quality products and lower prices, as well as helping to minimize the consumer footprint. Adopting such practices also means that e-commerce services would need to be more personalized to business models. So in this regard, having a forward-thinking open-source platform such as Saleor is strategically a good choice.
Developers worldwide have recently been discussing REST and alternatives to it. Meanwhile, the popularity of GraphQL is increasing rapidly. What are your thoughts - do you prefer one over the other?
Being a front-end dev myself, I love GraphQL for the developer experience, especially when it's combined with strongly typed JS. Navigating around data structures is a breeze, as well as fetching and caching data. From a front-end developer perspective, I think GraphQL gives more flexibility and comfort over REST API, and since most of our dev time goes into building storefront, I believe we are more productive with GraphQL.
A-dam and Saleor
How did you hear about Saleor? What led you to use our headless platform?
I remember reading through oceans of blog posts comparing open source e-commerce platforms. The fact that the Saleor was based on Django and GraphQL instantly grabbed my attention. The ease of running the project in the cloud, stack choices and clarity of the codebase played a big role as well.
“With Saleor we can spend more time thinking of what to build next and worry less about how. It’s a great match for fast-growing stores that need to move at speed.”
Were you comparing other e-commerce platforms for A-dam?
The only alternative we had considered at the time was Spree-commerce. However, when comparing the stack of both platforms, we found Saleor to be more modern, as well as the preference we had for Django above Ruby on Rails.
In your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Saleor over other platforms?
Saleor codebase is well organized and inviting for extensions and modifications. It provides you with all the basics needed straight out of the box and doesn’t stand in your way when you need to tailor things. The project has all the tooling to make development productive and enjoyable. That being said, it’s not a plug and play experience that might be interesting for some businesses.
What were the major issues in your e-commerce development process before switching to our platform?
Before Saleor we had been using WooCommerce, which, frankly speaking, is a hack on top of WordPress. Besides being slow and convoluted to build anything with it, it was difficult to run any business insights since the data structures were modelled around blog posts rather than proper e-commerce models. Even though we had an agency to maintain the shop, it was clear that it would not scale with our business.
Prior to Woocommerce, I had experience working with Demandware, and one thing in common between the two is the “stone-age” developer experience. These tools surely serve many businesses and have their respective communities, but as a developer, once you have had a taste of developing with a good stack of technologies, you can’t imagine doing things otherwise.
Were there any challenges that you and your team met while using Saleor?
I think our biggest challenge was to keep up with Saleor’s updates. This was due to the fact that we had been customizing some of our core logic. Today, Saleor provides broader extensibility and features that allow us to make updates with less friction.
Any thoughts on Saleor Cloud?
I think It's a powerful addition to the Saleor community. It can help to release teams from dev-ops burden and free them up to stay in touch with all the fresh and juicy new features. We are very much looking forward to its release.
Unlike many other SaaS e-commerce platforms, I love that your service is based on open-source and has a simple fair pricing model without transaction fees. I think this is going to be disruptive.
Will you recommend using Saleor?
I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is looking for bespoke store experience and has a fast-growing business. Also, I can see Saleor being successful in a mature organization with legacy services that need a lot of custom integrations.
What are your expectations from Saleor in the future?
Luckily, our most requested features are on the Saleor roadmap. I would love to see a growing community around plugins and third-party integrations.
We’d like to thank Timur for taking the time to talk about his experience in e-commerce and Saleor.
Find out more about A-dam by visiting their website.
You can also check out their Instagram profile.
If you have any questions about Saleor, please feel free to reach us on Spectrum or Twitter.