Stories

Balinea

Leverages Algolia to support over 70 million search queries a month

About Balinea

- health and beauty marketplace -

3500 Partners
10ms Search Speed
> 300,000 Visitors

Highlights

Problem

Balinea was looking for an easily implementable search functionality which would provide real-time access to their constantly-changing data set.

Approach

Creating an MVP with a small data-set to try out the solution followed by a full fledged implementation.

Result
100X
Faster search speed
10 ms vs 10s
New Search speed

Balinea, is the leading marketplace for booking wellness & beauty treatments online in France. Users rely on them to provide the fastest method of securing beauty appointments with the best addresses online.

The Balinea Story

Booking appointments for a beauty service or treatment has always been a difficult and painstaking task. Countless phone calls, unavailability of favorite stylists, frequent no-shows and unnecessary expenditure are just some of the problems associated with this task which is straightforward in theory. This is what Balinea’s founders were looking to solve when they founded Balinea in 2010. Today, Balinea is a market leader, providing access to the best health and beauty services in all major cities in France and Belgium.

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Real-time Access

Balinea’s main value proposition is that it provides access to beauty treatments in real-time. Behind the scenes, this means that Balinea is constantly updating their stock as the appointment slots get snapped up. Various other parameters also go into regulating stock such as location, availability of specific stylists and price. Balancing all these parameters in order to obtain accurate results for each of their ~70 million search queries per month is quite an undertaking. Initially, Balinea was tackling this using an open source solution; however, as the volume of search queries and number of partner services grew, this became a complex task - especially with regard to managing search hardware and infrastructure.

Jeremy Laplanche, CTO at Balinea, and his team began looking for solutions which would take Balinea’s search experience to the next level. Jeremy was no stranger to Algolia, being a part of the French startup ecosystem, but he didn’t know exactly how fast the service was or if it could fit their specific use case. After he did some research, he decided to run a trial in 2014, to see if Algolia could meet their needs.

I was looking for a solution which could handle all of our pain points - in particular, the complexity associated with a constantly changing data-set. The team at Algolia were very hands-on about solving this problem and shaping our use case, right from the beginning,

Cracking Real-time Access

The main problem that Balinea was looking to tackle was real-time access to their constantly-changing data set on both desktop and mobile devices. At that time, they were a small engineering team of three people and were looking for a solution that wasn’t too resource-intensive. Like any business, they wanted to spend most of their energy on their core strengths. They had previously tried using an open source solution for their search functionality but quickly realized that the constant maintenance and tweaking was a bit much for their team to handle.

Lastly, Balinea also wanted a solution that could pull up extremely relevant results based on their user’s locations - in other words, they needed to enhance their geo-search functionality. “I was looking for a solution which could handle all of our pain points - in particular, the complexity associated with a constantly changing data-set. The team at Algolia were very hands-on about solving this problem and shaping our use case, right from the beginning,” says Jeremy.

Enter Algolia

Jeremy and team wanted to see Algolia’s find-as-you-type search functionality in action, so in July 2015, they decided to test the solution using a small data-set of 10,000 records. Implementing this test took about two weeks and the results convinced Balinea that Algolia was the solution for them. “I’d like to point out that Algolia’s support team is a real pleasure to work with. The degree of involvement and commitment to our project that they had right from the start is really commendable,” says Jeremy.

Before January 2016. We saw a steady customer conversion rate of 20-25% year on year but after Algolia, we see an average of 45%. This can definitely be attributed in part, to our fast searchability and relevance. Of course this figure varies month on month depending on the season, but it’s amazing!
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Search x100

Implementing Algolia made Balinea’s search solution 100X faster. Their initial search solution provided results in about 10s. With Algolia, over 90% of their results are returned in under 10ms. “Our Product Manager actually told me that the search was too fast!,” laughs Jeremy. In fact, Jeremy and team wanted to see if they could make their results even faster and switched to instantsearch.js in January this year.”

For a small team like Balinea, having the bandwidth to grow their business and explore new avenues is very important. Jeremy attributes a significant part of their growth to the instant-searchability they acquired after implementing Algolia. “Before January 2016. We saw a steady customer conversion rate of 20-25% year on year but after Algolia, we see an average of 45%. This can definitely be attributed in part, to our fast searchability and relevance. Of course this figure varies month on month depending on the season, but it’s amazing!,” says Jeremy.

He further goes on to say “For our customers, it’s a perfect solution. They’re able to find relevant results at their fingertips. Initially the team did take some time to adjust to switching from an open-source solution to Algolia, but it’s been worth it.”

Algolia not only allows us to scale our search functionality with ease but it also provides us with bandwidth, which is extremely critical for a business at our stage of growth. We’ve been able to focus a large part of our energy on growing our business and that’s allowed us to be more focused on designing a product that is both intuitive and easy-to-use for our customers.

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