Creating a 3-layered architectural model

Synopsis

By replacing point-to-point connections with APIs, FatFace is eliminating data inaccuracies, such as out-of-stock inventory, and speeding up access to business-critical information such as price details, store product data and customer history.

With Anypoint Platform and Coforges’  integration expertise, FatFace has initiated its “shop your way” vision through an omnichannel strategy, enabling consumers to shop across all devices and channels with a consistent experience.

The Client

FatFace is a lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer, based in the UK. It was founded in 1988 by Tim Slade and Jules Leaver as a business selling T-shirts at ski resorts. Today, the same entrepreneurial spirit still remains at the heart of the business, underpinning the company’s growth into a successful multi-channel retailer with well over 200 stores, an award-winning store design, and a fast-growing e-Commerce website.

The Opportunity

With almost 30 years of operation, FatFace has accumulated a number of, now legacy, systems that has led to siloed data and operations, preventing the retailer from materialising its multi-channel, multi-geography strategy.

With the majority of their customers preferring to shop either online (30%) or both online and in store (41%)*, their new e-Commerce platform and its seamless integration with the other enterprise systems of the company, became a key priority.

It became apparent that custom coding and a traditional point-to-point integration approach were negatively affecting customer experiences, leading Fat Face to consider an ESB platform that allows easy integration between their on-premise and cloud systems. After careful consideration of several platforms, FatFace selected MuleSoft to adopt an API-led approach.

At the beginning of 2017 FatFace engaged Coforge to implement MuleSoft’s Anypoint PlatformTM, remove point-to-point integrations, rationalize and automate core processes, and ensure the new e-Commerce platform was fully integrated and live in time for the Christmas rush.

The Solution

Coforge created a 3-layered architectural model based on MuleSoft’s best practice, to seamlessly connect FatFace’s internal and external applications.

This 3-layer architecture provides loose-coupling, which gives FatFace the ability to replace any downstream systems without impacting the overall integration. Most of the APIs are self-contained and make use of micro-services patterns.

The integration includes functionality for order management, inventory management, price management, store data management, customer management and payment management modules.

Key integrations

  • ERP
  • Warehouse Management (WMS)
  • Product Management
  • CRM
  • Marketing Intelligence
  • e-Commerce
  • Bespoke applications
  • Reporting databases
Security and Availability

All the APIs are hosted in MuleSoft’s CloudHub platform, which is securely hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.

APIs in all 3 layers use HTTPS protocol and are secured using client ID enforcement. Additional security is implemented to protect APIs against malicious payload. The deployment option uses at least 2 workers for each MuleSoft application that makes all APIs highly available (99.99%) and load balanced using out of the box functionality provided by the Anypoint Platform. Each of the APIs have their own SLA, which is governed and managed by Fat Face’s central IT.

Project management

The overall integration was implemented using a top down approach, with experience APIs created first. The backend implementation was carried out in parallel, allowing for the e-Commerce project to run at the same time on the top layer.

The Result

Speed and Accuracy – By replacing point-to-point connections with APIs, FatFace was able to eliminate data inaccuracies, such as out-of-stock inventory, and speed up access to business-critical information such as price details, product & inventory data and customer marketable options. Near real-time communication of data (something that could not happen with their previous point to point integrations), gave Fat Face instant insight and the ability to become more proactive and agile, gaining valuable competitive advantage.

Reusable assets – Coforge built a common framework component for logging and auditing of messages and payload. This component is used by all MuleSoft applications to enable consistent logging and auditing practice. All APIs follow a canonical data model approach making the APIs as generic as possible and allows consumers to subscribe to the APIs and re-use the assets.

Omnichannel experience – FatFaces’ new omnichannel experience built on Anypoint Platform was put to the test during the run up to Christmas. In less than one year after bringing on Coforge and MuleSoft, FatFace completed rolling out an API-led approach across more than half a dozen business critical systems, including CIMS and Red Prairie WMS, and transitioning its e-Commerce platform to Salesforce Commerce Cloud. The new e-Commerce platform launched in November and the retailer subsequently recorded its best ever week of full-price sales in the week leading up to Christmas (24% increase in revenue).