Magento a Perfect Fit for Princess Polly

By November 12, 2015 Case Study

Hand-tailored by Anchor and Acidgreen

Anchor Hosting Back in Fashion

Thwarted by the limitations of its existing CMS, Princess Polly chose Magento as the flexible foundation for the fashion retailer’s future ecommerce plans. However, for the project to succeed, Princess Polly also needed a digital agency to perform the necessary alterations to create a personalised designer platform. Plus, they needed a hosting partner to tailor the bespoke hosting ensemble to Magento’s particular shape, for a perfect fit with plenty of room in all the right places.

“Working with Anchor is like having an extra developer in house. We consider them to be part of our development team”
James Lowe: Senior Technical Consultant, Acidgreen


Princess Polly started as a fashion boutique in Surfers Paradise back in 2005, launching an online store in 2010. “Within a year we were one of Hitwise’s Top 20 Power Retailers,” says Wez Bryett, General Manager at Princess Polly. “We experienced rapid growth for the first three years. Now the business has matured so we’re looking for improved stability while planning the future.”
Those plans include a global expansion, starting with the US and then moving into parts of Asia. Unfortunately, Princess Polly’s previous ecommerce platform was no longer supported.
“The existing system was pretty limiting,” explains James Lowe, Senior Technical Consultant for Acidgreen, the digital agency that took on the Princess Polly project. “Wez and the team at Princess Polly have big ideas. But they were constantly being told it couldn’t be done or that it was going to cost a considerable amount of money to make even just minor changes.”
“We needed an ecommerce platform we could stay on for good,” continues Bryett. “Easy to change, and with plenty of plugins available so you don’t have to custom build everything yourself.”
Bryett’s research reached one clear conclusion. “Magento offers enterprise-level features without the enterprise-level pricing. It’s also geared towards international ecommerce, with multi-site options, an integrated currency converter, and so on.”
Bryett was adamant that performance should not be compromised to achieve this increased functionality. Page load times had to be fast and the infrastructure robust and scalable enough to handle the busiest periods with ease. However, Bryett knew his limitations. “I have an IT management background, but I wouldn’t be comfortable managing the platform and the hosting myself. Instead of learning how to configure, maintain and fix everything in house, making mistakes along the way, we wanted to work with a team that has dealt with these problems before.”

“On a normal hosting setup, I found Magento to be quite slow. Extremely slow, even. But with the tweaks made by Anchor and Acidgreen, it’s become much faster.”
Wez Bryett: General Manager, Princess Polly


Acidgreen services a wide clientele, from start-ups to major brands. Now an official Magento partner, Acidgreen specialises in ecommerce websites for some of Australia’s biggest online retailers. The digital agency already worked closely with Anchor, having previously adopted managed hosting for previous projects. However, Princess Polly initially chose a different hosting provider.
Unfortunately, not every hosting provider can adapt, customise and manage a complex hosting infrastructure without hitting some obstacles. “They just couldn’t get the infrastructure right. They had a lot of problems configuring everything to be fast enough,” says Lowe. “It was quite a costly decision for the client to switch hosting providers a second time, but for the project to succeed we had to transfer to Anchor.”
Anchor tailored a bespoke hosting stack to fit the new Magento website and worked closely with Acidgreen to plan the migration. “Our first objective was to replicate what we already had. No redesign, new features or anything,” says Bryett.
Lowe agrees. “We didn’t want to freak out regular customers with a new user interface as well as a new platform. So we took baby steps, migrating the existing website across with only minor changes. Then we could compare apples with apples, giving us a benchmark and making any improvements measurable. Then we identified each piece of functionality and customisation that was needed, making the changes while keeping the front end user experience pretty similar.”


Anchor is also an official Magento partner, specialising in custom hosting environments. The team unstitched the various layers of Magento to understand how it works at every level, before rebuilding the hosting stack as a perfect fit for the resource-hungry CMS.
The result is a fully managed clustered environment, with load balancers and three front-end machines backed onto a high-availability back-end. The made-to-measure application stack eliminates performance bottlenecks anywhere in the hosting infrastructure.
The stack includes Varnish, Turpentine and New Relic to track and cache over 90 per cent of the website content, dramatically improving page load speeds while reducing database requests. Meanwhile, load times for assets such as CSS, images and JavaScript improved with the addition of a PageSpeed optimisation module to Nginx, automatically applying web performance best practice across the site. Even the shopping cart was optimised and cached where possible, by rebuilding it in AJAX.
Anchor provided the necessary DevOps expertise, allowing Acidgreen to deliver a lightning fast website without relying on less-experienced internal resources. “Just the way Anchor designed the infrastructure made the difference between a four second and two second page load,” said Lowe.


“On a normal hosting setup, I found Magento to be quite slow,” says Bryett. “Extremely slow, even. But with the tweaks made by Anchor and Acidgreen, it’s much faster. So stage one was the successful backend migration.
“Now that’s done, we’re making enhancements and adding new features all the time. For example, we just put in a Google Shopping Feed, which was a Magento extension. That would have cost us $15,000 to custom build in the old platform.”
Lowe says that the global expansion plans are now a lot easier to implement. “Create a new store in Magento with the multi-site feature, configure it with Varnish and CloudFlare, and bang — you’ve got a new US site. Simple.” Princess Polly was a tricky project, says Lowe, but he credits its success to the close working relationship between Acidgreen and Anchor. “We consider Anchor to be part of our development team. At any time, there’s always someone we can call. Whatever the task or issue, we both look at it and collaborate on sorting it out. The end result is a happy client that will stick with us.”

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James Lowe: Senior Technical Consultant, Acidgreen


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