ISM APAC: Re-engineering eCommerce from ground up


Formed in 2014, ISM APAC is a company of e-commerce specialists. Its roots are based in Europe with its parent company, the ISM e-Group having been in the e-commerce industry for 25 years. They build e-commerce solutions and help maintain them for their clients. It primarily focuses on the B2B market. However, that doesn’t mean ISM hasn’t taken up B2C operations as well.

Image credits: ISM APAC

While comfortable with multiple platforms like Magento and Shopify, ISM’s core produce is Sana. In case you’re lost, Sana is an e-commerce solution built by ISM. What sets it apart is the direct integration between Sana’s e-commerce systems with the ERP’s utilized by businesses.

Furthermore, ISM also delves into the arena of e-commerce marketing consultancy services ranging from SEO to online campaigns. With its products integrated into ERP’s and marketing consultancy, ISM provides a full stack solution to its clients.

ISM’s success stories

For many of ISM APAC’s clients, the standard Sana solution works. “It offers them everything they need,” says Ruskshan Abeyratne – Head of Delivery at ISM APAC. But there are customers that request certain customizations, which they believe would help them see better returns. But these customizations vary between domains. As such, no two projects are ever alike for the developers of ISM APAC.

ZF Friedrichshafen - one of the biggest users of Sana (Image credits: Auto Components India)
ZF Friedrichshafen – one of the biggest users of Sana (Image credits: Auto Components India)

One such example is ZF Friedrichshafen, which is a German manufacturer headquartered in Friedrichshafen, in Germany. It’s a global supplier of chassis technology for vehicles and construction equipment. Additionally, it’s also involved in the rail, marine, defense, and aviation industries.

As its supplying parts to companies in multiple industries, ZF reached out to ISM. They wanted an e-commerce solution to help simplify the process of supplying parts to its many clients. For this purpose, they liked what Sana offered but needed customized filers as they were involved in multiple industries.

But how did ISM APAC deliver this project?

The process of creating ZF’s customized filters began in Europe. The ISM team in the Netherlands met with ZF to clearly understand what their requirements were. In other words, what filters did they need for ZF’s many clients in different industries? This was the easy part but also the hard part because if anything went wrong here then it would mean returning to the drawing board.


Luckily, there was no need to return to the drawing board. Once the team in the Netherlands received the requirements, it was handed over to the ISM APAC team here in Sri Lanka to build the customized filters into Sana. Asanka Amarasinghe – Assistant Technical Consultant at ISM APAC shares that this process started by asking themselves a common question, “What do we use for this project?”

For ISM APAC, no two projects are ever the same. As such, they don’t stick to a single set of tools. Rather, the technologies they choose to use depends on the requirements they receive from the Netherlands team. But for ZF’s customizations and many others, they typically utilize Microsoft frameworks such as the .NET framework.

Meanwhile, for hosting they typically use Microsoft Azure. However, certain larger clients like ZF prefer to host Sana on their own infrastructure. This is typically due to security reasons. Such instances mean that Sana or any other solution ISM APAC builds will need to adapt to a new environment. This presents an even more complex development challenge for ISM APAC.

ISM APAC doesn't stick to a single set of tools. (Image credits: Techcrunch)
ISM APAC doesn’t stick to a single set of tools. (Image credits: Techcrunch)

Therefore, when such requests arrive, they get their hands dirty with other tools in their toolbox. Alongside the .NET framework with Visual Studio, this can also mean utilizing JavaScript frameworks. This is, of course, rare for ISM APAC (they prefer to use tools built in-house), but they’re well versed in JavaScript and other web technologies. Their favorite framework of choice? Knockout.js.

With these tools, ISM APAC ensures that Sana and other solutions they build can integrate into both SAP and Microsoft ERP solutions. Once integrated, they can be deployed anywhere that clients like ZF prefer.

But how do they stay up to date?

Currently, ISM APAC is running Sana 9, which is the latest version at the time of writing. To ensure this is maintained and kept up to date, ISM APAC hosts a series of training. These training sessions are typically conducted by external parties such as Microsoft MVP’s or other industry experts. Additionally, since they use Microsoft heavily, the company encourages its employees to pursue Microsoft certifications.

Yet, while the company doesn’t heavily use other technologies like JavaScript, it still offers training on the topic. This is to ensure that in the event the ISM APAC receives a project that requires using technologies they aren’t familiar with; its employees are ready to tackle it. While many of these training sessions take place here in Sri Lanka for ISM APAC, at times these are held in its overseas offices.

But the most important thing in ensuring projects get delivered is people. ISM APAC focuses on raw talent rather than experience when hiring. When it finds talented people, the company aims to plan ahead and ensure they have a work-life balance. This balance coupled with constant training to ensure they can utilize any form of technology is how ISM APAC creates e-commerce solutions that power industrial giants.


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