How Etsy’s cloud migration allows it to focus on CX

The cloud computing in the engine room, the e-commerce firm can focus its resources on the front-end.
24 February 2020

Etsy is the leading platform for independent craft sellers. Source: Shutterstock

Safe to say, cloud adoption has exploded. Last year businesses spent more on cloud infrastructure than on data-center hardware and software — a milestone moment for the changing direction of enterprise IT.

Every sector is benefiting from enhanced computing power and storage, and for customer-facing companies, the third-party, backroom benefits available from cloud vendors are enabling them to refocus their resources on the front-end.

“Our customers don’t care if we’re the best in the world at supporting hardware. They care about us having the best marketplace, with the functionality and features they want,” Mike Fisher, Chief Technology Officer at Etsy, told the Wall Street Journal

The craft e-marketplace has recently completed its move to the cloud — a journey that’s been ongoing since 2017. 

As a result, the popular e-commerce site has been able to double the number of experiments involving data analysis and machine learning (ML) — owed to the availability of Google Cloud’s computing power — and has cut down on the number of data centers from 3,000 to a few hundred, significantly reducing costs.

Cloud is more than just a trinket for the craft-selling platform: Shutterstock

The freedom to explore what’s possible with machine learning was a big part of Etsy’s cloud push, Fisher said. The migration has allowed the company to break away from annual server contracts, and become much more flexible and cost-effective with its experiments.

The company no longer has to buy computer processing power in the “hopes of running future tests.” Access to Google Cloud means the company can quickly access the computer power required: “Now, our engineers can run the data, get it processed and be ready to train their models in a day or two,” said Fisher; “The speed of innovation is so much faster now.”

Some of the work it’s doing with machine learning includes how to best leverage product reviews to earn and maintain consumer trust, as well as strategies to nudge customers to purchase goods placed in shopping carts. 

On transitioning engineers from back-end servers and infrastructure to front-end customer experience, Etsy said it had reallocated 15 percent of its engineers from back-end servers and infrastructure to work on software and development tasks that have a significant effect on enhancing customer-facing features, such as the website and app. 

Cloud migration in businesses may yield varying degrees of success and impact, according to the organization. In this case, the shift from maintaining and upgrading IT infrastructure has opened new doors for its product and service development, and to engage its customers more effectively than ever before.