Elixir web development at PepsiCo eCommerce
Pepsico eCommerce’s success in the CPG industry owes a lot to Elixir programming language and its framework Phoenix.
PepsiCo is a leading company in the CPG segment worldwide. CPG is an abbreviation of the term consumer packaged goods, which features food, beverages, clothes and household products inter alia.
Besides stationary sales in groceries all over the world, the company runs a series of eCommerce and marketing activities that advertise its products on big websites like Amazon, Instacart or Walmart’s online shopping platform Jet.
In 2019, the ecommerce branch of Pepsico’s offer earned the company 2 billion dollars.
Elixir/Phoenix at Pepsico eCommerce
Much of this success owes to the fact that the majority of eCommerce activities and marketing automation of the CPG giant are based on Elixir and Phoenix.
Elixir web development was brought into PepsiCo in 2018 by engineering manager Jason Fertel. With a team of software engineers, he developed an internal application that helps PepsiCo marketing team buy search advertising on Amazon and likes.
‘Everything we do that’s related to application development, we use Elixir for it’ - confirmed Fertel in the 77th episode of the ElixirMix podcast.
eCommerce the other way round
What separates PepsiCo eCommerce from the rest of the solutions in the CPG segment is taking any marketing middlemen out of the equation.
In traditional CPGs, there is a media agency involved. This factor is omitted in Pepsico eCommerce in favor of a more holistic view. “Holistic” meaning taking into account inventory on Amazon and own warehouses, search rank on Amazon and how the competitors are doing.
Asked if this approach encompassed supply chains & logistics, Fertel spoke in 2019: ‘We’re getting there. We’re not quite there yet, but that’s the goal’.
The benefits of Elixir for Pepsico
Asked by ElixirMix hosts about the basic advantages of using Elixir in production, Fertel indicated more efficient and faster product development.
‘Spinning up an MVP with Elixir/Phoenix is much more straightforward’ - admitted PepsiCo’s engineering manager.
Jason Fertel also mentioned the hiring advantages of the Elixir/Phoenix community, claiming that the language attracts programmers who ‘are able to take risks’ and ‘see how it is to deploy an application, and not only maintain it’.
How does actually PepsiCo eCommerce utilize Elixir web development?
According to Fertel, the aforementioned internal eCommerce software is an umbrella application with a bunch of shared pieces of code. A number of deployments were done on those pieces.
With the development of DevOps at Pepsico eCommerce, the company plans to move to Kubernetes. The engineering manager made clear that he was aware of the fact that Kubernetes had been controversial in the Elixir/Phoenix community, but claimed to have no complaints applying them.
‘Right now, the application is relatively small and internal, handling not many events and not much data. We’ll see what happens when we do more automation’ - he claimed in late 2019.
The PepsiCo eCommerce engineering team uses the Elixir Absinthe graph QL toolkit for graphs, PostGres and the Druid Database for queries inter alia.
Learn more about Elixir libraries.
The list of companies using Elixir grows slowly but continuously. PepsiCo seems to be yet another giant in its own niche, besides Moz and Bleacher Report, who benefits from Elixir/Phoenix engineering.
Such a huge business giving a bet on Elixir is great validation of the language. In addition, the CPG giant has been a sponsor of the annual ElixirConf event devoted to the language created a decade ago by José Valim.
The engineering team at PepsiCo eCommerce is at constant growth and the company is still hiring new Elixir/Phoenix talent.
In May 2020, the company launched Snacks.com and Pantryshop.com, two direct-to-consumer websites that allow for online ordering of their products with home delivery. These projects are a response to the global covid-19 pandemic and changing shopping habits. Both took less than 30 days to launch.
Pepsico eCommerce has also been up to exploratory works with IoT, applying Elixir and its dedicated framework.
Read more about the state of Elixir software development in 2020.
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