From monolithic to headless: Illumina’s customer conversion formula

Illumina manufactures products used in biological research and development. Ecommerce sales have nearly doubled to more than $1 billion since 2020.

When customers of Illumina Inc. want to order biotech products like the chemical reagents used in DNA sequencing kits, they often have special ordering needs that can be difficult to satisfy. Ash Trasi, director of IT, web and ecommerce, Illumina Inc. For example: shipping schedules. Scientists and product developers often buy the reagents in bulk in a single order but need them delivered in small packages to suit their workflow. “Ship schedules are a huge thing for our customers to use,” says Ash Trasi , director of IT, web and ecommerce. “A customer may need to order hundreds of reagents but doesn’t need hundreds to come immediately; they may need 20 in May and another 20 in July.”

But, until a year ago, Illumina found it hard to provide a smooth online interface on its ecommerce site to let customers configure their preferred shipping schedules while taking advantage of placing bulk orders. Its legacy ecommerce site — running on a long-serving monolithic platform — was difficult to customize with a more customer-friendly shipping management interface. The case for going headless

For that and other reasons related to making its website easier for customers to place orders, Illumina decided in 2020 to deploy an ecommerce site on headless commerce technology from Elastic Path that went live in mid-2021. The headless platform separates the ecommerce engine from the customer-facing front end and the back-end business operations software, enabling Illumina to use Elastic Path’s built-in system of application programming interfaces (APIs) to customize each part of the platform independently, cutting back significantly on the amount of overall software coding, Trasi says.

The move to the new ecommerce platform has paid off […]

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