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.