Originally set up in 2003, Rapid-Flyer.com is the first 100% online printing house in France. Nowadays, Rapid-Flyer.com is a part of the Techniphoto Group, a leader in offset printing in the north of France with over 50 years of printing experience. They offer from standard formats to fully customized projects and aim to conquer the online printing sector.
What’s more, RF needed one technology stack for multiple business units of the Techniphoto Group consisting of 6 printing houses. Each of them has their own back-end system. After a series of consultations with different digital agencies, they came to the conclusion that the most optimal solution was to go with a headless solution and connect all of the back ends within a single ERP. Additionally, the ERP system should be integrated with one e-commerce platform with a single front end. The fact they were already built on Symfony gave Sylius the obvious advantage to become the one e-commerce platform “to rule them all”.
After the initial experience with an e-commerce platform built by an agency, they decided to move towards an in-house team and a transformation to a tech company, which we always support. Currently, the Rapid Flyer team consists of 5 developers.
Two years ago the company was joined by a new CTO – Eric Geloen who knew exactly what to do about this, and how to lead the true digital transformation that will be efficient for years.
For the last four years, Rapid Flyer based their e-commerce operations on PrestaShop, nevertheless it turned out to be a bit of an unfortunate choice. The particularity of their business solution and offer called for personalisation in elements not foreseen to be customized by the platform.
The key elements of every online store: checkout, catalog, product configuration are custom-built and it would be very complicated-slash-impossible to bend the implemented logic to PrestaShop.
As it is never comfortable to wear not your pair of shoes, eventually Rapid Flyer went for a solution providing endless customization options with the composable architecture.
Regarding the platform, our choice was directed towards Sylius, because we wanted a scalable tool that allows us to choose our weapons. A formatted environment like that of PrestaShop or Magento has advantages (many modules available, a well-developed ecosystem), but with Sylius, we have control over everything, even at the heart of the machine.
What seduced us is their technology and their way of working. The technical environment is interesting for developers, it allows us to attract talented profiles and create internal emulation.
Thomas Redregoo, Rapid Flyer Ecommerce Manager
With high expectations regarding market position, Rapid Flyer needed a platform that was able to ever catch up with the fast-paced world.
We did comparison of various platforms like PrestaShop, Magento, Shopify – we chose a solution perfectly-fitted for our business size and growing ambitions. We didn’t need a shining corporate or marketing solution, we needed a strong back-end solution.
Nicolas Mathieu, Rapid Flyer CEO
Let’s start with hosting as it turns out to be tricky in the printing business. Why? If you have ever printed a professional material, you may get the idea, but just in case you haven’t – the files prepared for print tend to be “heavy”.
In this case the RF team had to think the final solution well in order not to underestimate the tera-fying amount of data. They decided to choose a local supplier, Scalair, that supports their app orchestration with Kubernetes. What is truly beneficial is that K8s allowed them to go for a fixed hosting price – again, a must-have for this kind of business.
Apart from the money-saving aspect, K8s provides better performance (let’s cut down those abstraction layers!) by adding HAProxy.
As already mentioned, Rapid Flyer is an example of a perfect best-of-breed headless implementation. Each application or service in their digital landscape is hosted on a separate Docker container, further grouped in independent clusters.
For the frontend, the team decided to use React and NextJs front-end framework working on Redux-Saga containers to provide best possible performance.
The front part of the store communicates with the Sylius-based back end via classic HTTPS API calls, whereas RabbitMQ – the most popular open source message broker and the default protocol for Sylius, “talks” to the custom-built ERP and a few middleware Symfony-based applications that facilitate external services necessary to manage the online printing logic.
As for CMS, Rapid Flyer decided to use the SyliusRichEditor plugin within the e-commerce part of the website and implemented WordPress for the blog.
The famous customer service software Zendesk and Verified Reviews ensures full customer satisfaction by displaying honest opinions and scores from customers. They get their packages via Chronopost – the French market standard shipping provider, but more carriers will come for sure.
Time for the most crucial part of every online business – the money flow. When evaluating available Payment Service Provider (PSP) integrations in the Sylius Store, the RF team knew that 95% of their clients finalize their transactions with a bank card. Then they discovered the PayPlug plugin and decided to become its first early adopter due to PayPlug’s attractive rates.
Sylius and PayPlug announced signing a partnership earlier in 2021 and what followed was a modern integration delivery by our Leading French Solution Partner – Synolia. You can read the whole story and why it’s worth giving it a try here and here.
RF has also added another payment option from our Technology Partners portfolio, a very powerful and well-known player – PayPal.
From the very beginning, user experience has been at the top of their platform’s must-haves, just have a look at the customer reviews they receive:
With this in mind, they knew the competition was not sleeping and in order to keep thriving in the market they needed a robust refresh of their platform.It required a lot of personalized components to smoothly lead the customer through the ordering process to allow them to get a product perfectly tailored to their needs within seconds, not minutes!
Rapid Flyer’s team confirms all the e-commerce KPIs have gotten better than before, with almost 16% bounce rate decrease and nearly 28% conversion rate rise.
Comparing post-MVP (since May 2021) period to 2019, the basic metrics from Google Analytics do look promising:
However, Sylius’ benefits are usually not obvious at first glance for business stakeholders. The ones who truly appreciate our platform are tech people – because it’s all about the developer experience, clean codebase, and providing software that is pleasant to work with. This leads to better business results, i.e. – faster time2market, reliability and the general happiness of your employees that can work with a tool they enjoy and that simply works.
But let’s give voice to Rapid Flyer’s CTO – Eric Geloen. What does the mastermind behind this tough digital transformation process say?
Adoption of Sylius in my team was super easy. We knew Symfony and that made Sylius extremely easy to learn, which eventually transferred to the faster time2market.
I especially like the modularity and customizability – our development team can change literally ANYTHING. Thanks to the Single Responsibility Principle, every feature in the system is not tightened to the other. What is more, a strong test-suite (TDD) makes the system extremely reliable. When something is broken, you know where it is and can fix it quickly without breaking other parts of the platform.
Overall, code quality was one of the biggest factors of our next e-commerce platform choice and time has proven it was right. From the first moment it was a long-term strategy, so I knew I was betting on something that would work for years.
As you may see, the more custom challenges, the better for Sylius. And web2print is all about that – advanced product configurators, dynamic price calculators, personalised buyer experience.
If you like this story and would like to experience the same – contact us and let’s discuss how Sylius could help your business.