What’s in the Aero tech stack: Elasticsearch

The infrastructure that drives the Aero ecommerce platform is the critical, behind-the-scenes tech that gives Aero its lean, out-of-the-box functionality.

One major aspect of this functionality is being able to process and analyse search results quickly and accurately.

This is where Elasticsearch is worth its weight in gold.

What is Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch is a search and analytics engine and it has established itself as an industry leader. This is due to its capabilities in managing massive data sets and coming up with results very rapidly when searching for and returning data.

As a freely and openly distributed component, Elasticsearch is built on Apache Lucene open-source software. This means we can incorporate it as part of the Aero platform with no additional costs.

Elasticsearch is a scalable NoSQL document store that can easily be queried and aggregated on to offer extremely fast and relevant searches. This is highly useful for ecommerce sites, as we’ll explain later.

How does Elasticsearch work?

Elasticsearch uses a process known as data ingestion. This involves moving data from one or more sources to a specific destination, for either immediate use or storage in a database.

Because this data comes from different sources, the ingestion process must clean and transform it, to make it easy to analyse. Essentially, this is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, to ensure they all fit as a whole.

Elasticsearch parses, normalises and enriches this raw data, before indexing it.

Once indexed, this data is readily available for when users run complex queries or want to obtain detailed summaries of it.

Why is it a good fit for ecommerce?

Effective search functionality is crucial for online retail stores. It is a vital point of interaction for customers, and it can be either a deal-maker or breaker when it comes to the shopping experience.

If your customer can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll click off a site, and they’re unlikely to come back.

When someone uses a site’s own search facility, it’s a strong indicator of their shopping intent. In fact, they may well have done all their preliminary research and now want to view product content.

An ecommerce site’s search facility is also a valuable source of data for metrics and analytics, enabling retailers to refine their processes and products.

Middle to large-sized retailers with extensive product ranges will definitely need a reliable search function, to ensure their customers find what they’re looking for.

Are there alternatives?

There are other open-source search engines offering similar benefits to Elasticsearch. There are paid-for services too, which offer good functionality in the complex world of online searches.

Then there are traditional relational SQL databases, which are tried and tested backend workhorses. But they aren’t especially fast, and speed is a critical factor in ecommerce.

Aero has chosen Elasticsearch because it occupies an established position in its field.

It’s a proven search and analytics engine, used by global companies such as Adobe, Cisco, Pfizer and eBay.

We believe Elasticsearch will continue to be a core component in the Aero platform, enabling us to offer online stores the kind of fundamentally efficient functionality they need.

For more information about ecommerce and the Aero platform, please follow us on LinkedIn.

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