Fitbit logo

DEVELOPING A GLOBAL HEADLESS DEPLOYMENT IN RECORD TIME

Guidance deployed a B2C solution to help Fitbit capture global market share and engage a new health and fitness audience.

5 minute read

Who Should Read This?

This case study will be especially relevant for those interested in the following topics:

  • B2C
  • Cart & Checkout
  • Complex tech integrations
  • Headless Commerce
  • Global solutions
  • fitness subscription services
  • Cross collaboration
  • Ecommerce replatform

THE CHALLENGE

As part of an ongoing effort to assert its position in the health and fitness marketplace and recapture global market share, Fitbit needed a new global cart and checkout experience which could satisfy the unique requirements of over 20 different countries and the consumers they serve. 

THE BRAND

A pioneer in wearable fitness technology since 2007, San Francisco-based Fitbit makes a range of devices from basic trackers that count how many daily steps you take as well as smart watches that display phone messages and notifications. In addition to its accessible hardware, over the years Fitbit has also become known for its software: the mobile app, social network, sleep tracking and subscription coaching. Fitbit has over 28 million active users worldwide and has sold more than 100 million devices globally.

TRANSFORMING THE FITNESS WORLD

Once the global leader in wearables, Fitbit’s market share was beginning to weaken as giant tech corporations like Apple, Xiaomi and Huawei continued their investments in health trackers. To recapture global market share and better compete in the health and fitness space, they needed a rapidly deployed global cart and checkout experience that is extensible to the unique requirements of over 20 different countries and the consumers.

As is the case for many merchants, Fitbit’s home grown ecommerce platform was developed in the early ecommerce days of desktop but was no longer able to scale to the level of agility and reliability that Fitbit required. Inherent inefficiencies in the platform (including no content management system) were putting a strain on internal resources. 

With reliability, speed and flexibility being key requirements to satisfy the needs of the always-on consumer as well as an emerging audience, Guidance helped Fitbit envision a future-state headless commerce solution between Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)  as the new content management system and BigCommerce as the cart and checkout experience.

A MID-PROJECT PIVOT

The initial engagement with Fitbit was to leverage BigCommerce to deliver a cart and checkout solution that could support 44 languages across 20+ countries and 14 currencies. But one country in particular, Singapore, had an urgent opportunity to support Fitbit’s global ambition of being more present in the health and fitness marketplace. In this new partnership between the Singapore government and Fitbit, Singapore residents would receive a fully subsidized Fitbit Inspire HR or Fitbit Versa Lite with the purchase of a yearly subscription to Fitbit Premium. All that was needed was a commerce interface to facilitate this value exchange.

Fitbit Versa
Fitbit Inspire

The original plan was to deploy Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) as the content delivery engine to be able to support this and future country initiatives. Fitbit was preparing to deliver a fallback solution through their current-state, home-grown platform.

Looking at their business holistically, Guidance knew there had to be a better way. We proposed an ambitious option that uses BigCommerce where we could deploy all the features of the future state platform minus Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). While FitBit has a limited number of SKUs, we knew this health and fitness solution could scale globally to thousands of health and fitness providers. Creating thousands of instances for each provider was both impractical and cost-prohibitive so we devised clever workarounds which allowed Fitbit to deliver an alternative user experience through a unique Fitbit health and fitness partner interface. This interface could authenticate and authorize health and fitness provider members, display custom product catalog products unique to each health and fitness provider, customize discounts, subsidies and eligible bundles for their members and provide subscription purchase functionality.

In just six weeks, we were able to deliver an alternative user experience for Fitbit customers while also satisfying the needs of Singapore’s health and fitness providers. We were also able to test the shopping cart and checkout solutions in a lower risk market.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“While the Fitbit Eng team … reviewed their successes, someone mentioned how valuable [Guidance’s] contributions were leading up to the North American release. They were grateful for how [Guidance] helped with workarounds like setting up a test page to allow for testing parts of the workflow while other parts are being completed. Thank you for all that you did.”
- Laura Rosen, Manager of Program Management, Fitbit

GLOBAL CART AND CHECKOUT SOLUTION

With the Singapore health and fitness initiative deployed in a record time of just six weeks and the cart and checkout experience stress-tested, we went back to the original project of delivering a cart and checkout solution that could support 44 languages across 20+ countries and 14 currencies. Localization of the cart and checkout experience was critical. As the most critical revenue pages, developing a cart and checkout solution for one country can in itself be a challenge. A solution for 20+ countries requires different tax solutions, multiple payment gateways, various address verifications, diverse currencies and much more. In fact, over 60 different integrations were required for this global solution.

Fitbit checkout page

APIs FOR SPEED AND FLEXIBILITY

To compound this challenge, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) did not have a commerce connector for BigCommerce. Guidance was tasked with creating a solution compatible with AEM. Our solution was to develop a “Commerce Library”, a front end JavaScript library that provides a simplified but well defined interface for triggering commerce features within the context of Adobe driven content. The library provided features like add to cart, triggering checkout and the display of the shopping cart. This was all that was needed within the context of Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) and the Commerce Library could take responsibility for everything else the user would want including the actual display of the shopping cart, adding/removing items, updating existing items and completing everything through a Single Page Application (SPA) shopping cart and user experience. All of this was achievable through APIs, one of the key benefits of headless commerce. Despite this solution, the Commerce Library was just one piece of a complex integration puzzle.

Fitbit Customer Facing Experiences Diagram

A COMPLEX COLLABORATION

Deploying the future state platform was a team effort and required a complex collaboration between multiple development teams including Guidance as owners of the global cart and checkout experience, Fitbit, the CMS agency as well as multiple integration partners.

With multiple teams responsible for different components of the architecture/solution, all working towards different objectives and timelines, it proved challenging to arrive at an integrated solution at a schedule that aligned with the business demand.

DOZENS OF COMPLEX INTEGRATIONS

The 60 points of integration including Product Information Management (PIM), address verification, payment services and many of these services were not ready throughout the project because they had to be customized and developed. The future state platform suffered as a result of all these decentralized dependencies. Guidance looked to reduce the dependencies, drive agility and autonomy and take ownership of more than just the cart and checkout experience.

Fitbit Architecture Diagram

THE POWER OF STAND-IN SOLUTIONS

Our workaround was to create stand-in solutions, demonstrating the functionality of all the other dependencies, so we could continue our development on the commerce portion including User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Guidance stood up an integration environment that utilized the pieces of the future state architecture that we knew would be in place and tied it all together. From integrating the middleware, to integrating the commerce to integrating the front end commerce library, we created an environment that allowed us to exercise the features of the future state solution and engage the client, partners and Q/A team so we could validate the solution we were building.

Our ability to pivot and show how these different “heads” of the overall architecture are interchangeable demonstrates yet another benefit of headless commerce. Guidance took ownership of driving the future state platform to completion demonstrating a true partnership with Fitbit. 

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

“Fantastic. Congrats to everyone at Guidance, Fitbit, and BigCommerce who made this possible!”
- Brent Bellm, CEO, BigCommerce

Results

Guidance delivered one of the most sophisticated BigCommerce implementations: a global, headless retail solution all while influencing the BigCommerce product roadmap along the way. 

 

This cloud hosted SaaS platform has provided consistent and reliable functionality, refocusing time spent maintaining systems to deliver features and functionality to help Fitbit accelerate their ambition to recapture the global health and fitness market share.

AT A GLANCE

30

Points of Integration

44

Languages Supported

20+

Countries

14

Currencies Accepted

RECOGNITION

BigCommerce Agency Awards
Best Headless Commerce Solution Nominee

2019

Summary

To recapture global market share and better compete in the health and fitness space, Fitbit turned to Guidance to transform a legacy platform that was unreliable and inefficient. The future state solution was a global headless commerce environment developed with Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) as the content delivery engine and BigCommerce as cart and checkout experience.  

Despite numerous challenges and roadblocks that could potentially stop development in its tracks, the Guidance team developed clever API driven workarounds to drive the project to completion.  

The result is a global cart and checkout experience as well as a health and fitness platform to serve a new B2C marketplace. As one of the most sophisticated BigCommerce implementations ever, this cloud hosted SaaS platform is able to satisfy the unique requirements of over 20 different countries and the consumers they serve. 

SERVICES

  • Project Management
  • Technical Delivery
  • Account Direction
  • Workflow Development
  • Technical Architecture
  • 24/7 Application Support

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS

  • BigCommerce
  • Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)
  • Jasper PIM
  • Custom Middleware
  • Finatra/Finagle
  • Avalara
  • Stripe
  • Chargify
  • Informatica Address Doctor
  • ModusLink
  • PayPal
  • NewRelic

Find out how Guidance can create solutions for you!

CONTACT GUIDANCE