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Retail Innovations: Real-time peak season agility
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In this webinar on “Real-time peak season agility,” Algolia’s Rachel Ward talks to Ben Pusey, Software Product Owner at Gymshark, the fastest-growing fitness fashion brand in the UK. They discuss how to prepare for peak performance during Black Friday spikes and win over your customers with retail innovations.

Watch the webinar [HERE] or read on for the highlights

 

  • On Gymshark’s “great site crash” of 2015 – Sometimes a problem can have a great outcome. In 2015, Gymshark was only three years old and still a small company. It didn’t have a dedicated tech team and ran a self-hosted store maintained by a third-party agency. A traffic spike in the lead-up to Black Friday completely overwhelmed the site. The crash hurt Gymshark in both lost revenue and a bruised reputation. But there was a bright side.

 

  • On bouncing back better – That experience was a catalyst for Gymshark to evolve tech as a core function within the company, to move to SaaS solutions and, eventually, to shift to a headless architecture. Since their crash, reliability and scalability have become Gymshark’s main focus, achieved with API-first solutions by partners Shopify, Algolia, and Contentful. from crash to 500 revenueNow, if a particular service isn’t coping for any reason, it’s easy to toggle it off and keep offering the core experience to customers. The transformation is doing great things for Gymshark. In 2020, they reached a milestone of $500 million in revenue and now serve about 64 million customers, with over one billion pageviews per year. Ecommerce retailers around the world can learn a lot from Gymshark’s experience.

 

  • On meeting customer expectations – Today’s online shoppers have far different expectations than they did two years ago, before the pandemic ecommerce explosion. To win shoppers’ loyalty and increase conversions, merchandisers need to be ready to meet customers with seamless, world-class search and browsing experiences. A recent study showed that 59% of customers switched to competitors after a few bad experiences and 17% left after a single bad site visit. Investing heavily in amazing experiences is how retail leaders like Gymshark are helping customers find the right products, steering shoppers to products that keep them coming back, and driving higher lifetime values in the process.

 

  • On the importance of holiday sales – It’s no wonder that top brands put so much effort into merchandising and logistics around Black Friday. Gymshark generates 20% of its total annual revenue in the 14 days surrounding the holidays, and 40% of that is in the first six hours of Black Friday! With 200 times more site activity than on a regular day, reliability and scalability are essential. Holidays are peak earning periods. Even with rising inflation, the National Retail Foundation is projecting record-breaking sales for the 2022 holiday season. With so much earning potential at stake, retailers can’t take any chances.

 

  • On how to prepare for a Black Friday sales spike – Gymshark learned the hard way that you need to prepare for holiday surges. Pre-scaling your site and testing systems in advance is essential to make sure that every customer journey is amazing despite the additional load. Keep communication channels with your strategic partners scalabilityopen. Involve your partners and teams in forecasting and load testing so that everyone knows what to expect. Those fractions of a second of load and rendering times are critical for conversions. Find out why Gymshark has been exploring feature toggling to support the core customer experience during seasonal spikes.

 

 

  • On the importance of recommendations – Quality recommendations can make or break your holiday sales and have the potential to take you to that next level. When Gymshark realized they’d outgrown their recommendation solution, they moved to Algolia for high relevance, scalability, and drastically reduced admin load. Gymshark was already using Algolia for search and browsing, so it wasn’t a big technical leap to add Algolia recommendations. A proof of concept took just a few hours to set up. A trial run in one market delivered high quality results in a few weeks. To go live everywhere, the team just needed to flick a few more switches. Gymshark went from zero to a star-performing recommendation engine in just six weeks.

 

  • On delivering impressive KPIs – For Gymshark, preparing for Black Friday and building a powerful search solution with Algolia paid off big:
    • The site had NO downtime 
    • API response times remained stable despite the increased holiday load
    • Order rate among new users grew by 150% 
    • 30% more clicks on product recommendations
    • More products were added to shopping carts
    • More conversions overall

black friday revenue

Black Friday 2022 might be six months away, yet savvy retailers know that it’s coming up fast. Don’t sleep through the holiday and miss hitting those KPIs. Start preparing now for the holiday surge and meet customer expectations with a strategic partner like Algolia. 

Algolia’s API-first Search & Discovery platform empowers builders to design remarkable online experiences for customers. Blazing fast search and superior browsing give shoppers just what they’re looking for. 

Request a personalized demo today to see what Black Friday 2022 could look like with Algolia. 

About the author
Elise Furon

Senior Marketing Manager

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