A Q&A with Commerce Layer's CTO about our caching strategy.

SumUp glyph white

SumUp leveraged composable commerce to power 35 international markets.

  • markets launched within one year

  • disruption to global business during rollover

  • improved loading performance

  • improved visual stability

In the 10 years since its founding, SumUp has grown into a leading FinTech company serving over 30 markets and 3.5 million merchants worldwide. What began as a single card reader turned into a range of affordable payment solutions and access to financial services, all with the goal of empowering merchants of any size. SumUp’s success was underpinned by their flexibility towards different market realities — different teams had autonomy to price and position products and services to best fit their market, but their existing ecommerce store, where merchants could purchase their ideal POS solution, wasn’t scaling at the same rate as their business.

The challenge

The high-growth dilemma: refactor or build anew

One major factor to SumUp’s success was their ability to offer innovative product and service solutions to a diverse range of merchants around the world. However, international expansion is a complex undertaking that goes beyond spinning up another site in another language, going multi-market requires a dynamic and extensible ecommerce architecture in order to scale properly and provide local market autonomy. SumUp quickly realized they were outgrowing their existing systems and faced a common dilemma amongst fast movers: either refactor their current system or build a new solution with the flexibility and power to support their growing volume, product innovation, and international presence.

It was quickly decided that the former was not feasible. Much of their existing backend was custom built by developers no longer with SumUp, and it became very apparent that refactoring the existing backend would be much more trouble than a full replatforming. SumUp began exploring whether 3rd-party solutions could deliver on their requirements without requiring a full custom store build, which isn’t their core domain.

The solution

How Commerce Layer’s composable approach won out

The evaluation team, which included SumUp’s developers, found many ecommerce SaaS solutions fell into the "classic" monolith realm. Monoliths often required building around interdependent services and would hamper SumUp's ability to build backend logic that could accommodate the unique requirements of each market.

The SumUp team instead decided to re-platform on a Jamstack architecture for its natural flexibility, high performance and security. Once this decision was made, they began evaluating commerce APIs to include as part of their new ecommerce system.

Ultimately, SumUp selected Commerce Layer after an extensive POC period, because Commerce Layer could provide:

  • API flexibility
    SumUp prioritized services and APIs that could work independently from each other, which better facilitated their unique use cases without constraints or potential tech debt.
  • Checkout speed
    SumUp’s decision to build a Jamstack site also meant selecting partners that would enable checkout speeds that matched the performance of the rest of the site.
  • Intuitive admin dashboard for editors
    SumUp’s distributed global team worked effectively because they were autonomous, which made a universally intuitive dashboard a priority.
  • Developer-friendly tools and documentation
    All development was done in-house, and it was critical to have thorough documentation, developer tools, and access to support.
  • Partnership mindset
    From the outset, Commerce Layer made it clear they were committed to mutual learning and developing new features to support SumUp’s scaling business.

We knew performance and flexibility were going to be key requirements in our new store. Commerce Layer provided us with a transactional engine that could support multiple markets with separate business rules. Couple that with their ability to drive fast checkouts without requiring a ton of optimization work, and it became clear that they were the best choice.

Elias KlemmSenior Software Engineer at SumUp
The result

SumUp’s quick international rollout powered by Commerce Layer

SumUp began their rollout in the beginning of 2021, and has expanded to 35 markets as of 2022. They took an approach that would not disrupt their ongoing business operations while implementing a new ecommerce architecture that enables:

  • Greater international autonomy
    Each country/market has the flexibility to define local pricing and promotions. This allows editors to be customer-centric and respond to market dynamics. It’s an engine for the company’s growth.
  • Flexibility with business models
    SumUp is leveraging the original D2C solution across their company to other use cases and teams. The original development team is currently providing guidance to another business unit adopting the Commerce Layer solution.
  • Continued rollouts without business disruption
    A controlled country group rollout with A/B testing ensures that the business experiences a net positive impact, quickly.
  • Easier integrations
    Commerce Layer’s focus on the transaction layer made it simple to integrate with other composable services.
  • Enhanced performance
    By aggressively leveraging CDNs and the client cache to store transactional data and handling cache invalidation and refreshing, Commerce Layer was able to deliver lightning fast checkout out of the box.

SumUp started with the U.S. market and began directing a small percentage of traffic (1%) with a small number of users and A/B tested on primary and secondary metrics vs their current store. These metrics included conversion rate, purchase value, CTR to sign-up and funnel drop off rate. After a couple of days, bug-free, they increased traffic to the new platform to 50% and quickly to 100% before taking on the next country grouping. They also saw marked performance improvements as well - their Cumulative Layout Shift (which measures visual stability) improved by 80% and their Largest Contentful Paint (which measures loading performance) improved by 60%.

A mutually beneficial partnership

Recognizing the power of Commerce Layer’s transaction API, SumUp developers are committed to utilizing its full potential by rolling out more international markets and leveraging additional Commerce Layer services. Conversely, Commerce Layer benefits from working with a fast-scaling and dynamic international business to inform our own roadmap and ensure we continue to deliver the highest quality product.

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