Over the past three months, 21YunBox has helped Commune Lifestyle Singapore’s tech team successfully deployed and hosted a complete e-commerce stack in China. This post will share how Commune Lifestyle has transformed its site from using a third-party website builder to a modern Headless E-commerce architecture.

After using 21YunBox on Commune’s official website in China, their storefront’s got 10x faster. 21YunBox has also provided Commune’s technical team the convenience and flexibility for in-depth customization of their website. This has lead to more satisfied customers because they could custom order their favorite furniture designs.



About Commune Lifestyle

Commune Lifestyle Pte. Ltd. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Koda Limited. KODA was established in 1972 and distributes products to more than 50 countries. Koda has professional technology, and production and design team. With its unique design and precise craftsmanship, its product styles are easily distinguished in the market. KODA series products are well-known for their meticulous design, unique style, politeness, and nobleness, as they take into account market cost strategy factors. While expanding its main production base in Vietnam, they have also established production bases in Malaysia and Indonesia. Koda currently has 11 first-class production workshops.



Commune’s Challenges in Launching in China

Slow Performance and Lack of Flexibility

With the rapid growth of the company in China, its network traffic and content have continued to increase. Their original simple e-commerce website platform could no longer meet the growing demand of Commune in China.

The initial online store building platforms used by customers in the early days was chosen because it could be implemented cheaper and faster. However, because the platforms are built for a generalized storefront, they could not scale with Commune’s rapid growth.

With the increasing demand for popular customized furniture design, the Commune team urgently needed a customizable technology platform that could support the company’s sustainable growth.

The site-building system we used originally could not support this level of customizability (ie. allowing customers to choose from custom colors, material type, backrest heights, etc). The integration options were also limited, which made us out of sync with the rest of the e-commerce market.

Maltin Soe
Teach Lead, Commune Lifestyle

Due to the rapid growth, Commune was under pressure to come up with a solution to re-design the e-commerce website with the internal development team.


Confusion of ICP filing

It has always been difficult to apply for an ICP license whether it is a domestic or a foreign company entering China. ICP filing is not only time-consuming, if not handled properly, the website may also face the possibility of being shut down at any time.

In the process of communicating with Maltin, the tech lead of Commune Lifestyle, 21YunBox found a couple of items that tended to confuse them:

Can we still host a website without an ICP filing?

According to Commune’s experiences, in the early days when they first purchased and deployed a website on a cloud server in China, the engineers found that the website to be inaccessible. All they saw a prompt like a screenshot below. They initially thought that it was a code-level error. It turns out that their website did not have a valid ICP License causing the website to be inaccessible.

Domain names without valid ICP License cannot be accessed
Domain names without valid ICP License cannot be accessed


I have applied for ICP filing, can I use it on other cloud platforms?

The customer had already completed an ICP filing on the original website building platform but did not understand why it could not be used across multiple platforms. This caused more confusion.


Oversea Technology is NOT Compatible in China

We found that the customer painfully discovered that many popular overseas SaaS and PaaS solutions are not usable in China. For example,

The main reasons that led to the illusion of “availability” in technology selection were: The customer’s engineering team conducts technical research, product development, and testing outside of mainland China.

The tech team of Commune Lifestyle is based in Singapore. In the early technology selection, they used Airtable as a content management system and Gatsby as a Static Site Generator, which was then deployed and hosted on Gatsby Cloud.

It is also because the customer conducts the User Acceptance Test (UAT) outside of Mainland China, the customer did not perceive that Mainland China cannot access the photos hosted on Airtable and the static website hosted on Gatsby Cloud during the whole process.

As the customer allowed more users to test the new version of the website in China, the customer’s technical team began to receive more and more feedback: “The website cannot be opened”, “The photos cannot be loaded” and a series of problems.




Solution

The customer has changed from the original e-commerce website building system provided by Heydian to the Headless Ecommerce system developed by their internal technical team. The core technology stack is Gatsby as the Static Site Generator and replaced Gatsby Cloud with 21YunBox for website deployment and hosting. In addition to this, the customer also uses these 21YunBox services to improve production efficiency:

  • 21YunBox Build: 21YunBox uniformly initiates data requests to major headless backend systems and pre-builds static websites.

  • 21YunBox Edge: this provides advanced functionality built on top of leading cloud providers in China. It’s built-in directly with 21YunBox Build to provide extremely fast content delivery network (CDN) nodes are distributed in 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities across China, helping the customer to serve the 1.41 billion users in China.

  • High-End Builder: Due to a large number of product photos on the customer’s website, the customer purchased a builder with a high hardware configuration, so that when building the project in 21YunBox Build, all photos will be loaded into the build.

  • Continuous Automatic Deployment: When the code changes, 21YunBox will automatically pull the latest code in Git and automatically build and deploy.

  • Automatic Routing and Forwarding: After the Git code is submitted, 21YunBox will automatically adapt the URL of the website, which can be done automatically without the participation of the customer’s operation and maintenance engineer.

  • HTTPS Security Certificate: The entire website is equipped with an HTTPS security certificate, including second-level subdomains and self-determined domain names, which can be completed automatically without the participation of the customer’s operation and maintenance engineers.

  • ICP Filing Consultancy Service: According to the customer’s situation, 21YunBox helped the customer complete the ICP record and enabled the website to be online in China in compliance with laws and regulations.

  • Technical Expert Assistance: Provide testing assistance for customer’s technical selection and website in China.




Results

Accelerated Time-to-Market and Reduced Staff Cost

21YunBox helped the customer speed up the entire process of development, review, and deployment. The customer’s website went live with 21YunBox and without any assistance from Ops Engineers, Commune’s website successfully launched new product functions 3 to 4 times a day.

Judging from Maltin’s years of experience in the industry, the previous deployment and launch process involved developers working with ops engineers to launch new functions. In most cases, releasing a feature in a week is pretty agile already.

His experience after switching to 21YunBox has been: our engineers can push and release new changes within minutes with no helps from the ops engineers at all, now our engineers can ship code much faster. At the same time, he feels that 21YunBox Build has greatly improved the company’s productivity and reduced costs.


Security No Longer a Concern

The customer’s technical team is no longer worried about the security of the website. The Commune Lifestyle website gets higher security through JAMStack and static hosting.

It is worth mentioning that the process of building a static website in 21YunBox is quick. After the website is built, it is statically stored in the CDN nodes, so there is no such thing as a traditional “dynamic” service. Users send requests and the server responds, so the static site has no attack surface to let hackers invade. On the other side, hackers are good at finding intrusion points for a “dynamic” service, thereby obtaining user data, order data, etc. in the “dynamic” service.

Our new site is purely static (generated when the website is built), which makes hackers have a very limited attack surface and improves security by more than an order of magnitude.

Maltin Soe
Technical team leader, Commune Lifestyle


Performance Without Overhead

Without the additional use of third-party content delivery networks (CDN), the page load time has become 10 times faster. In addition, 21YunBox’s intuitive architecture, transparent process, seamless integration, and out-of-the-box features enable the customer’s engineering teams to:

  • Complete the project in-house, without introducing outsourcing development companies and additional third-party services (additional costs and additional risks)

  • Be able to control more without relying on the ops engineers, you can quickly solve any problems.

  • In agile development, you no longer need to rely on ops engineers or DevOps engineers to release and launch code to make it go live.

Historically, one of the biggest worries for the customer’s team has been that the website’s performance and high availability. This worry has gone away now that 21YunBox continuously monitors and solves any slowdown or availability issues.