Hand-tailored by Anchor and Acidgreen
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
IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT FIT
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.”
MAGENTO MADE TO MEASURE
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.
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.
STEPPING OUT IN STYLE
“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.”
ANCHOR: Managed Operations
An Anchor hosting infrastructure represents the very latest in hosting couture – fresh, clean and bang up to date.
Stop patching your servers like an old pair of jeans because you lack the time, resources or expertise to update or replace them. Managed Operations means never putting up with unfashionable hosting ever again.
“Managed hosting frees up time and provides us with expertise we would otherwise have to hire in. It’s a huge competitive advantage.”
James Lowe: Senior Technical Consultant, Acidgreen
WHICH SIDE DOES YOUR WEBSITE DRESS?
An off-the-peg hosting plan is often too tight where you need freedom to move and baggy where you’ll never grow into it. If you’ve invested in a top quality website or application, you need a top quality hosting provider to tailor your environment to the perfect fit, and perform seamless repairs when necessary.
Your website or application can strut its stuff, confident that a wrong move won’t have you busting the seams of your bandwidth.
NO MORE MAKE DO AND MEND
Anchor is responsible for your entire hosting environment, right up to your code. We’ll fix it so you’re never caught in public in threadbare hosting.
We take care of the operating system and application stack, security hardening, performance optimisation, patches and security updates, configuration changes, backups, monitoring, auto-scaling, troubleshooting and emergency response.
All your code needs to do is wear it well.