About Letha Shop – Under The Hood

November, 30, 2022

eCommerce And Letha Shop

E-commerce is enjoying unprecedented growth both world-wide and in South Africa, and SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) are quickly moving to online channels to meet client requirements.

Letha Shop is a cloud-based eCommerce platform serving the South African market aimed at small to medium sized businesses interested in opening online stores. Letha simplifies the process, allowing clients to launch an online store with no technical knowledge or expensive development. 

The platform provides a branded online store, website, and mobile app; easily set up via a guided process within the shop management portal, enabling the first sale to be accomplished within a few minutes.

How Our eCommerce Website Builder Started

Covid-19 lockdowns had a devastating effect on small and micro businesses, especially those trading exclusively in local markets who found themselves in a difficult position. The impact of lockdowns hit these companies the hardest, and they were also the least able to pivot quickly. These businesses knew that the solution lay in taking their business online, but most simply didn’t have the knowledge or resources to set up an online trading presence. 

Consumers, also hit by lockdowns, were driven to online shopping, and though lockdowns are a thing of the past, its popularity hasn’t waned and is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years.

Letha Shop is set up to help the many small and micro businesses that face a very uncertain future if they are unable to change their business models. We address this issue by removing the barriers to entry and making the launch of an online store as simple as possible.

Clients sign up with Letha to create their own branded website and mobile app,” explains Mike Love, CEO at Letha Shop. “All interactions with the client’s customer are done under their own brand. To make the process even simpler for SMEs to get their online stores running, all hosting and payment gateways are built in, making Letha Shop an all-in-one offering.”

Our Challenge 

Due to working with SMEs in a fast-paced market, we realised that we needed to provide an e-commerce platform with minimal capital outlay and with a fast time-to-market. As demand for the service would be unpredictable, the platform needed to have the ability to start small and automatically scale. And it also had to be robust – there is no margin for error when SMEs’ businesses are on the line.

At the same time, there would be limited administration or support staff allocated to running the online store – and most of our clients are not in a position to manage infrastructure at all.

“The solution had to make it simple for clients to set up their stores; with no software to install, easy to use and fast to spin up,” says Mike Love.

Why AWS (Amazon Web Services)

Taking all the requirements into account, a cloud solution was the ideal choice; and a serverless AWS solution was implemented.

AWS serverless allowed us to provide a scalable platform. Automation of infrastructure setup is critical to delivering a unique branded store to each client, while maintaining quality at a highly cost-competitive price point. Automation and scalability are inherent AWS capabilities that directly meet this requirement.

With AWS being a best-of-breed cloud provider, with advanced serverless capabilities, the decision was an easy one.

Our Solution

With the focus on keeping costs as low as possible, coupled with a non-negotiable requirement for delivering a quality eCommerce platform with high availability, we architected an AWS serverless solution.

The pay-per-use model is the perfect solution to give us the functionality we need, with no initial capital expenditure for infrastructure. These cost savings are passed onto our clients.

The Letha Shop e-commerce platform uses AWS serverless technology, including Lambda, API Gateway and AppSync. S3 buckets are used to store images, and Dynamo DB stores store and product data.

The eCommerce solution is split into several modules, each with their own AWS account. One account controls the store administration functionality, another account is used for the eCommerce sites, and another is used for client subscriptions, billing, and management. AWS EventBridge is used to facilitate asynchronous communication between workflows in separate AWS accounts.

Within the eCommerce accounts SNS (AWS Simple Notification Service) is used for asynchronous communication, and in the few cases where an immediate response is needed STS (AWS Security Token Service) is used to obtain temporary credentials to call functions in other accounts.

In complex workflows – for example creating a client eCommerce site, Step Functions are used for orchestration of the Lambda microservices. Standard AWS components (Cloudformation, Codebuild, S3 and Cloudfront) are used to create and host the infrastructure.

Our clients and their customers interact with the system from their browsers or mobile devices, using AWS API Gateway which connects to the Lambda microservices. The exception to this is the product component where speed is crucial. This uses AWS AppSync connected to DynamoDB to deliver a sub 200ms response time on all product type read requests.

Results And Benefits Of Using AWS

By using AWS serverless technology, we did not require the initial provisioning of servers and related infrastructure, providing significant savings on time and capital expenditure.

The use of AWS serverless technology meant that we could focus on developing the product and new features, rather than being distracted by infrastructure provisioning and operations. It afforded the development teams the ability to focus on what they love best, which is app development. They rapidly developed the platform and launched the first online store within six months.

The high availability that is built into AWS serverless solutions resulted in an eCommerce platform that is robust and highly available, critical for online stores that are open 24/7.

Where To Next 

We continue to develop the platform, introducing features required of a maturing eCommerce platform. Letha aims to see clients to grow their businesses and online presence through a focus on continuous improvement and the continuous evolvement of the eCommerce platform.

Contact Letha today for your 14-day free trial to try out our services. Get selling online quickly and easily!

Nicky Nielsen

Nicky Nielsen