Whether you’re a digital-native startup or an established organization with a long history in bricks-and-mortar retail, staying on top of your e-commerce game grows more essential by the day.

At FutureStack: New York last month, senior representatives from both camps—one from Jet.com and another from REI—talked about doing just that. And though they had different stories to tell, both speakers emphasized the importance of maintaining the right architecture and deploying the right instrumentation to ensure optimal online experiences for their customers.

In that regard, New Relic has proved essential for both companies. Offering real-time visibility into frontend and backend performance, deep and actionable insights, and the ability to quickly and confidently push out new code, the New Relic gives Jet.com and REI the power to meet and even exceed their customers’ expectations.

Making significant changes

REI E-commerceFor REI’s Director of Platform Engineering Todd Wilson, making the transition from agile to continuous delivery (CD) really drove that realization home. As Todd explained in his FutureStack: New York talk titled Getting People Outside with Continuous Delivery, while CD is the default for digital natives, an 80-year-old company like REI needs to make significant changes across the board to make such a strategy work.

Five years ago, REI shipped new code once every six weeks. Today, the company does so continuously. To get to that point, Todd and his colleagues had to overhaul the build pipeline, testing, release management—the entire engineering process.

As they did so, the monitoring capabilities offered by New Relic gave them the insights they needed to complete the transition with confidence. Now, Todd explained, “A developer can log in and right away get the context of what’s going on with their application.”


Being there in real time

Jet.com E-commerceBorn on the web, things were different for Jet.com. This e-commerce powerhouse, founded in 2014 and acquired by Walmart in 2016, was built for rapid growth from the beginning. “Early on, we knew we needed to scale,” said Vice President of Engineering Leo Gorodinski, interviewed on stage by New Relic’s Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales Erica Schultz as part of FutureStack: New York’s day-two keynote. “We designed for modularity,” he said, and made New Relic “part of our DNA.”

Doing so meant making performance monitoring an integral part not just of the engineering process but of the business as a whole. So why this focus on real-time visibility? “Our customers are shopping in real time,” explained Leo. “Bots are attacking us in real time. Cloud errors are happening in real time. We have to be there in real time, too.”


Peak traffic, peak performance

The need for visibility into performance is never more important than at a company’s digital moment of truth. For REI, the annual anniversary sale, which wraps up on Memorial Day, is when things get really crazy. Meanwhile, the critical stretch from Black Friday to Cyber Monday presents Jet with its biggest challenges.

At such times, both companies rely on New Relic to help them deliver the best possible customer experience. To illustrate, Leo painted a vivid picture of the Jet.com boardroom, which transforms over every Thanksgiving weekend into a full-blown ‘war room’—complete with big screens displaying New Relic dashboards. Watching those dashboards around the clock helps Leo and his colleagues respond instantly to any issues affecting performance.

As REI and Jet.com can attest, no matter when your company’s digital moment of truth comes around, you need ubiquitous instrumentation to make sure you deliver a seamless, delightful digital customer experience right when it matters most.

B.J. Hinshaw is a freelance writer based in Northern California. View posts by .

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