Monday, 26 November 2007

Increasing sales on Beautifulpure

Crikey! Things never stand still at Moneyspyder and we have the data to prove it! Whilst we have seen great success in ramping up DC4U (an established company and brand) we have also been building and refining Beautifulpure.

Starting out as client number one there was no existing site to build on - just great a fresh new idea and a blank canvas. Beautifulpure went live in May and has been in refinment since...but in a controlled data driven 'Moneyspyer' way.

Over the next few posts I'll tell you about three exercises that we engaged in:

Statistical Significance of Featured Categories

The homepage image chosen for the launch of Beautifulpure was a safe bet:
Early homepage image
The Guernsey beach scene was chosen to reflect the home of Beautifulpure. Fine, it looks inviting and reflects the brand values.

Let's see what happened when a new brand was featured on the homepage. On September 8th a new brand appeared on the site - Korres Natural Products. From the 8th to 23rd of September, daily page views were average - as expected. Then we did this:
Featured Brand

Page views from September 24th to October 13th more than doubled. That's a healthy increase in 'eyes on screen' but sales in Korres products more than doubled during this time and have continued to increase despite the homepage image featuring other brands.

Now this sounds like obvious stuff but Moneyspyder make this type of change easy, fast and cost effective. The last point is crucial: Though this may be a simple demonstration we know the ROI from this initiative. We know this works and has long term value. Compelling stuff? We will continue...

Monday, 12 November 2007

How Moneyspyder increased's sales 3

Power is nothing without control, flexibility and reliability

Previously I have waxed lyrical about how great it was to be able to control the rate of change on, to be able to measure, analyse and ultimately act on the effects of these changes. Let's discuss the platform in a bit more detail to see how this flexibility is offered and yet remains coupled to awesome power and reliability.

Platform Choice

If you've had a look at our site, you'll know that our e-commerce platform uses Ruby on Rails. We knew from the outset that the qualities we were looking for in a software platform to fit the Moneyspyder vision were serious flexibility coupled with reliability and speed. In investigating Ruby on Rails it became apparent that the Rails framework was just the right fit and Ruby is quite a nice language to use. The result of this combination is super fast development and really nice software.

Here's a longer paper on why Rails development is so fast. For me, good design (under the hood stuff, not the site visuals) happens a lot easier and therefore faster. The effects of good design are like ripples in a pond - the [good] effects expand outwards and affect all areas of the system but not in terms of any dependencies, more a case of goodness permeating everywhere by default. the same can be said of bad design but that seems to become harder to achieve in Rails...

Our architecture employs a 'base' level shop of core components (plugins in Rails parlance) - baskets, categories, variants, promotions and split tests to name but a few. We choose to employ these base components where appropriate and specialising per client where required. This means we can introduce large pieces of functionality quickly and easily. High cohesion and loose coupling is the computer science ideal situation that our software exhibits

The hosts with the most

A slight nagging doubt was hosting. We needed a partner to 'take the heat', care for the tin and wires and allow us to focus on building and continually improving class leading e-commerce sites. The thing was that Ruby on Rails was pretty new - still is. To our delight we found EngineYard. These guys rock - no argument. Renting slices is just the ticket. It's the right model for so many clients. Who wants to own tin these days? Owning servers in a farm along with the responsibilities that go with a data center is hard, expensive and probably not core to many peoples business. Focus on what you do well and you're off to a great start.

Preparing for a busy XMas sir?

EngineYard's service is just great. We like the ability to seasonally scale the size of each clients environments as demand requires. Capacity planning is facilitated again by our strong use of data. We know when the peaks are likely and scale accordingly.

Currently emails customer weekly. We are seeing strong levels of response to these emails but even at peak - multiple requests per second - the two production slices are barely breathing. As and when we forecast massive peaks we can choose to scale out (add extra slices) and back (reduce slices) if required. This is a very cost effective e-commerce environment.

Monday, 29 October 2007

How Moneyspyder increased's sales 2

Acquisition Strategy

DC4U had focused on email as the primary customer acquisition route with a large initial effort in building a database of email addresses. There were, of course issues with the organisation of the database during this initial push:
  • Source tracking

  • Identifying cost per acquisition

  • Generating data on email performance

  • Segmentation

  • Platform robustness
Moneyspyder's analytics guru, Dr. Mike Baxter cast his expert eye over the data James had gathered and through in-depth analysis and a collective effort was able to provide the crucial answers to the questions regarding email performance, organisation of the data and the cost per acquisition.

...and that's useful 'how' exactly?

These answers on their own yielded crucial insight into the email campaign performance but coupling these answers with strategic insight has enabled DC4U to know what emails perform, to understand why the emails perform, to target customers, product ranges and promotions specifically and to know based on hard evidence that the money spent on a campaign will yield the expected return on investment.

Ultimately, the sales figures speak for themselves - 128% increase in sales revenue in 4 months.

Next, we'll look at the Moneyspyder ecommerce platform in more depth, why it works well for DC4U and how the inherent flexibility has been capitalised to add to the efforts discussed so far.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Moneyspyder, Evolution and PCI DSS compliance

Moneyspyder has always considered safety and security as our highest priorities - a veritable security sieve of a site may convert fantastically well initially but it is still a security sieve and as customers get to know and understand this, their lack of trust will surely erode conversion to dust.

So, being thought leaders in e-commerce, shortly after our inception as a company we embarked on a mission to attain PCI DSS compliance - as described on WikiPedia:

PCI is considered one of the more comprehensive data security standards in a cluster of regulations that have emerged over the past decade; Basel II, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPAA), Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, California State Bulletin 1386. PCI is regarded as being relatively more prescriptive than these other laws.

Having identified a partner who specialised in, amongst other areas of IT security, PCI DSS compliance we worked closely with Evolution to understand what PCI compliance would mean to us, our clients and their customers and how to achieve the required standards to qualify.

Joining forces with Evolution and Engine Yard, Moneyspyder was ratified as PCI DSS compliant in July 2007. We are delighted with the strength and reliability of the collective solution we offer to our clients and can highly recommend working with Evolution in the arena of security and PCI DSS compliance.

Matthew Tyler, PCI Practice Manager with Evolution Group:

"As a QSA it is Evolution’s role to assist our customers in attaining and maintaining Compliance to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).

The PCI DSS is the most rigorous and most detailed compliance standard currently in any industry and the attainment of compliance to this standard takes both a commitment from the stakeholders in the business as well as, in most cases, a vast amount of work.

As PCI Practice Manager, I am extremely pleased that we have ratified MoneySpyder as a fully PCI DSS compliant organisation and were extremely impressed with the technical knowledge within their organisation and their willingness to adopt change. They have attained PCI DSS corporate compliance in the shortest possible time and this is solely due to their commitment to their customers and their skill sets.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

How Moneyspyder increased's sales 1

This is the first post describing how Moneyspyder increased sales by 128% for DC4UK. This was a multi-pronged effort covering all aspects of the current business - there is more to come though - success is never final!


First some background: Moneyspyder worked with DC4U initially on a consultative basis with James spending 1 day every two weeks getting to know the DC4U team and aligning their business strategy ready for growth. James had identified the business as having huge potential so in May 2007 Moneyspyder launched the new site on the Moneyspyder platform so that the business had an appropriate platform on which to base this growth.

The big decision

Crucially, and Moneyspyder jointly made the decision to port the site onto the new platform with as little change to the customer facing website as possible. This meant that we could use the strength and flexibility of the Moneyspyder technology to introduce change in a controlled manner. Controlling change, and importantly measuring the effects of change have meant that all changes have meaning and value to the business.

Change and measurement

For example, a change to the presentation of product colours and sizes showing stock status was demonstrated to reduce frustration in not finding products have made size and colour choices.

Further to this, not all changes were immediately visible: Using YSlow to understand how pages were being downloaded enabled significant speed improvements to be made with no impact to site reliability.

Finally, an exercise in data cleansing and validation ensured that the effects of the changes described above were accurately measurable without being soiled by 'noise' from poor customer experience or data impregnated with HTML.

Thus, DC4UK and Moneyspyder had in place, a culture of control, reliability, partnership and change and measurement on which to build the future success of the company.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Sales increase - 128% in 4 months

Following September’s monthly review meeting, Moneyspyder have increased online sales at by 128% since working with the disposable fashion retailer. The change has resulted from a three fold focus on e-mail messaging (value), site usability (category and image display management) along with check out design (removal of customer accounts and simplifying the existing 7 steps to 3).

This backed by the continued delivery of the evolving Moneyspyder platform is looking good to exceed stretch targets by the end of the year.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Hello and welcome to our blog. We are passionate about data, taking the 'think' out of ecommerce, cool technology and good manners. We take 'not being evil' to the next level and stay there!

We will be posting news about our clients, their successes and how we enable them to maximise their business potential.

We will talk about acting on data - not gut feel or whims. We will be telling you how we use the latest technology such as Ruby on Rails, the latest analytics techniques and sound business expertise in combination with hard evidence and an excellent partner network to create an unbeatable formula for success in ecommerce.

We're excited about it - we hope you will be too!