Sellers often dread changes to ecommerce platforms, not only because they must adapt, but because of glitches and unintended consequences that often result. For those reasons, some marketplaces put a freeze on changes during the holiday shopping season.
That’s the case at Etsy, according to a new post on the Etsy Code as Craft blog – though it’s more of a “slush” than a complete freeze. Techie Mike Adler said Etsy discourages the deployment of changes “that might be expected to disrupt sellers, support, or infrastructure” for a few weeks during the holiday shopping season.
“Necessary changes can still get pushed, but the standards are higher for preparation and communication,” he said. It’s called the “slush” period because it’s not a total freeze, he explained.
But the recent holiday shopping season was even more tricky than usual, he said, due to “historic volumes” of holiday traffic in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Planning for the season was full of uncertainty. Etsy’s traffic to the site leapt up in the second quarter by an amount it normally would have taken several years to achieve, Adler said. “Even if our traffic maintained a normal month-over-month growth rate from August to December, given the plateau we had reached, that would put us on course deep into uncharted territory.”
He described the planning that went into holiday-season preparations at a time of uncertainty – but then 2020 reared its ugly head and threw another challenge for Etsy techies to deal with: postal service interruptions that meant that buyers were facing widespread package delivery delays.
“It only needed a small code change to better inform our buyers about the issue,” he said, “but we’d be deploying it at the peak hour of our busiest day. And since it would be the first deployment of that day, the entire codebase would need to be compiled from scratch, in production, on more than 1000 hosts.”
The deployment was “sublimely uneventful,” Adler said, crediting a decade of preparation and an approach to technology that served the company well.