REWE Group accelerates content publishing with headless CMS
The REWE Group needed to overcome the limitations of a legacy CMS with a decade of customizations and extensions.
As such a large entity, REWE had developed a portfolio of multiple content management systems (CMSes) across different group companies. Within this heterogeneous environment, the core REWE.de site was powered by a classic Java-based, monolith CMS with extensive customizations and extensions.
This resulted in an expensive commitment to maintaining the CMS and a substantial management burden of cost and time. The developer experience was poor with isolated, disjointed workflows that caused unreliable delivery forecasts for new features and restricted the ability to anticipate and react to external changes.
The customizations also meant that complex dependencies arose, which frustrated the autonomy of teams. ”Our legacy system had over a decade of customization and extensions,” said Engineering Manager Eduardo Zamin. “It had become more of a ‘platform for everything’ rather than focused on content. We realized that the investment, effort and resource that we spent maintaining this old technology could garner a better return elsewhere, with a new headless CMS.”
There have been moments where our use of Contentstack has been self-explanatory. For example, the webhooks and the interfaces for integration were that clear that we did not need training. That goes a long way to improving confidence and productivity.Eduardo Zamin | Engineering Manager, REWE Digital
In line with a strategy to migrate all suitable systems to the cloud, REWE digital developed a short list of headless content management systems that satisfied initial criteria. Each of these systems was then engaged in a short-term, live production scenario.
Following this “real world” testing, Contentstack was chosen based on the flexibility offered for this pilot phase, as well as the live preview features and references from Der Touristik, a sister company to REWE digital.
“Our selection was not really a comparison of features,” Zamin said. “It was more important that we could get direct experience with the technology and see what we could do with it, in a live production scenario. Our pilot experience with Contentstack ran over six months. We developed live features and our engineers worked extensively with the API. Even though we did not use the full set of capabilities, we built a huge amount of confidence with Contentstack, and this was bolstered by references.”
A phased implementation of Contentstack was enabled by the micro front-end architecture within REWE digital. This design sees each part of the page delivered by different services and teams, which are then composed and delivered to a device. REWE digital plugged Contentstack into the teams as each service changed and migrated, task by task. This approach enabled a great deal of flexibility, enabling the REWE digital teams to focus on their core areas as the technology evolved.
“You don’t dismantle a decade-old monolith overnight,” Zamin said. “Our phased approach meant we could course correct as we progressed, maximizing the return on the investment made in the pilot phase. In addition, deeper technical sessions for the most advanced content managers established trust.”
Following the implementation of Contentstack, the user experience for content managers at REWE digital has improved vastly. There has been extensive use of the live preview feature. This enables REWE digital to preview content across multiple channels before saving or publishing it live.
The ability to edit entries and preview these changes in real-time not only ensures consistency and quality but also frees the content creation team from developer delays when it comes to updating material. Developers can now focus more on their core tasks. REWE digital has already seen an improvement in testing as the developer team has moved to a more agile and lightweight environment.
“There have been moments where our use of Contentstack has been self-explanatory,” Zamin said. “For example, the webhooks and the interfaces for integration were so clear that we did not need training. That goes a long way to improving confidence and productivity.
“Our aim is to enable content managers to be able to create content independently away from developers and we have already put in place ‘power users’ — content managers that can oversee the creation and publishing of content without any connection to the developers. As we finish our migration from our legacy system, these users are showing us what can be done in terms of fast, agile content development that can capture a market quickly and with confidence.”
There have been moments where our use of Contentstack has been self-explanatory. For example, the webhooks and the interfaces for integration were so clear that we did not need training. That goes a long way to improving confidence and productivity.Eduardo Zamin | Engineering Manager, REWE digital
- Better content, published faster
- Developers free to focus on improving performance of technology
- Content creators free from development delays
The REWE Group is a diversified retail and tourism co-operative based in Cologne, Germany. The Group consists of a network of independent retailers with a total revenue of more than €80bn. This makes REWE Group the second largest supermarket chain in Germany.
In 2013, the REWE Group founded REWE digital, responsible for strategic online activities within the group. REWE Group acquired the e-commerce platform vendor commercetools and invested billions of euros in digital initiatives across the business. In 2020 REWE digital spun off one of its business units and founded the independent company OC Fulfillment, vendor of the omnichannel fulfillment SaaS platform fulfillmenttools.
In 2021 the REWE Group expanded into online and offline payment solutions for retailers and in 2022, merged REWE digital with REWE Systems. This integrated a disruptive digital startup with an established team and technology portfolio that supports physical retail locations.
Contentstack Headless CMS
Ready for more?Contact an expert