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MilanStyle.com got 45% conversion boost for 300k luxury & fashion products after migration to Spree Commerce

Style Goes beyond Fashion

MilanStyle.com was originally founded as an online shopping destination for men’s designer and luxury branded clothing and quickly gained traction. Its founder Mr. Edwards, now a recognised authority on classic style and luxury lifestyle, had a vision to expand into into womenswear, improve overall customer experience and invest more heavily into marketing, however had been limited by the old platform’s functionality and scalability.

Currently MilanStyle.com features over 300 thousand luxury items from top boutiques all over the world and is probably the only large fashion marketplace in the world which allows users to search for thousands of items say in pink, khaki, floral designs or even transparent.

Jonathan Edwards Milan Style CEO

The Challenge

“We were pretty successful in our niche but hampered by currently being on WordPress. We needed to make the move to something far more advanced technologically to take our website and therefore our business to the next level. The scale we were working towards with the new website adding women’s fashion to augment our menswear  offering was approximately 500-800k products. The old website could facilitate up to around on 40k products due to tech bottlenecks. We needed an upgrade to a new tech stack and completely new architecture.” – Jonathan Edwards, MilanStyle CEO

The Search for a Remote Software Development Team

The MilanStyle.com founder conducted a series of interviews with Spree specialists around the world but couldn’t reach a deal for many reasons ranging from unclear architecture vision to very imprecise budget estimates.

Finally he found good chemistry and culture fit with Poland-based software house Spark Solutions, who specialize in ecommerce projects.

It took only a few emails and conference calls to discuss old site bottlenecks affecting the business growth being limited by product count capacity, slow page load speed, unreliable and slow product XML data feed imports and lack of custom features.

spree commerce remote development team

The Process & the Solution

Spark Solution's workflow for Spree Commerce projects
  • Analysis & system architecture design
  • Coding & testing iterative process
  • Responsive Website Design and its implementation
  • Production deployment & configuration
  • End-product solution

With the launch of MilanStyle.com MVP its marketplace business was taken to the next  level in all respects – 10 times the scale of the old website measured by product count, great scalability and site speed, user and business owner requested features, improved user experience including RWD which is quite important given that 47% of the site’s traffic comes from mobile devices.

New MilanStyle.com Features

  • probably world’s largest luxury goods marketplace with:
    • over 300k luxury brand products visible to the users so far and growing
    • all stock and promotion information updated almost in real time
  • great user experience
    • mobile-ready clean layout and greatly improved user experience
    • blazing fast user interface including search, product list loading and filtering
    • search engine with smart auto complete search box
    • precise filtering enabling users to pick and choose the best of the high fashion boutiques from around the world
    • intelligent “You may also like” feature on product pages
  • front- and back-end SEO features stimulating organic search results traffic
  • admin panel enabling
    • products management
    • product category management and moderation
    • designers and retailers management
    • promotion and promo messages management
    • CMS for content pages
    • general website configuration

Tech Stack

spree commerce tech stack
    • Ruby on Rails 4 with HTTP app caching & memcached for shorter page load times
    • Spree Commerce 3.0 – probably the biggest implementation of the latest version in the world
    • ElasticSearch for quickly searching and filtering millions of records
    • Twitter Bootstrap 3.3 – for mobile-ready easy-to-modify layout
    • ReactJS frontend with React-Bootstrap and Flux architecture pattern
    • Haml, Sass, CoffeeScript – front-end components
    • PostgreSQL, Redis – back-end engine
    • Heroku – cloud hosting optimized for increasing traffic loads with automatic scaling up and down

Conclusions

Business perspective conclusions:

  • MilanStyle.com business was transformed and scaled 10-fold with the right technology and dev team
  • MVP (beta-version) was launched:
    • in 3 months within the originally estimated timeline
    • within 96% of originally estimated budget
  • Website was beta-tested and optimized for a few more weeks right on time for Black Friday promotions
  • With each weekly iteration of the development process – both pre- and post-launch – new requirements arise for UX or business improvement

MVP pre-launch stage conclusions:

  • it is not easy to separate must-haves from nice-to-haves at MVP stage
  • number of feature requests pre-launch will increase but project timeline will shorten
  • keeping MVP lean is a difficult PM & negotiation process requiring compromise between client and dev team
  • with present day diversity of mobile devices Responsive Web Design is a lengthy iterative process with a lot of testing time for great UX
  • pair programming is key for effective problem solving and maintaining high code quality

Post-launch stage conclusions:

  • high code quality pays off in the long-term at maintenance and further development stage – less bugs, shorter bug fixing & further development time, lower costs
  • at a large scale of business marketplace retailer and category management & verification is an ongoing chore to be automated whenever possible
  • long-tail SEO is a time- consuming process to be automated whenever possible
  • Big Data utilization is not an exact science and requires time and custom tools

Source:

Spark Solutions

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