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The Gym Group scales their digital platforms with thinkTribe’s managed load testing service

The Gym Group scales their digital platforms with thinkTribe’s managed load testing service

Overview

In 2020, after months of COVID-19-related closures, news that The Gym Group (TGG) was reopening its facilities prompted a traffic spike on TTG’s website, resulting in performance issues, lost revenue and poor user experience.

An innovative gym model

Launched in 2008, the company has seen rapid growth over the last ten years and floated in 2015. Bringing a high-quality yet affordable workout experience to customers around the UK. TGG’s flexible, low cost membership model, together with 24/7 access, has really struck a chord with gym goers around the country.
The company’s digital experience is an integral part of TGG’s success story. Members have to go through the website or the app to sign up & workout to one of their 187 gyms. Ensuring a fast and smooth user experience is essential to the member experience.

‘As a rapidly growing business and then having to adapt to unprecedented operating conditions during the pandemic, we had to understand how much our platform could scale. Where are our vulnerabilities and how do we support traffic during peak periods’ Jim Hingston Head of Digital Product

Creating a platform for growth

TGG’s Head of Digital Product, Jim Hingston, called on thinkTribe’s expertise to ensure the scalability of the digital platform and the quality of the large-scale performance improvement programme. Effective load testing is key to leading up to peak traffic, especially when, like TGG, your business is in a growth phase. Trusting to luck isn’t a viable strategy – establishing a comfortable threshold that’s robust enough to support growth requires careful planning. Understanding how often complex user behaviour will impact your site at peak requires a realistic approach to testing.

thinkTribe’s load model is based on profiles of journeys taken by real customers. We scripted dynamic journeys for TGG that look into the page, to find and click URLs in real time – simulating real user behaviour. Factoring in growth forecasts to thoroughly simulate an increasing number of active users carrying out multi-page transactions. A series of tests were scheduled, putting the app and website through their paces which identified bottlenecks and delivered data on third-party performance, too.

‘A lot of performance tests rely on just hitting a couple of web pages but that’s just not realistic; it’s not how members behave. Working with data and using it to replicate authentic behaviour is really powerful.’

Delivering the right message

The events of 2020 caused turbulence for most space-based businesses, the result of a mixture of constrained trading conditions, extended lockdowns and increased public caution. Gyms, exercise studios and sports clubs were hit hard.

For TGG, it was crucial that customers had easy access to regularly refreshed information on closures and re-openings, together with membership updates on app and web. TGG’s Test Manager /Lead Business Analyst, Nicholas Cole, had already authored a strategy to deliver improved scalability and performance across the whole website. The thinkTribe team recommended key testing journeys and collaborated closely with the TGG tech team to tailor a solution that would deliver an error-free experience to users.

The mobile app and website flow into a single backend that manages subscriptions, customer data and payment data. The thinkTribe report provided clear information about how the site was performing against current volumes and predicted future traffic.

‘This is the best set of performance tests I’ve ever seen. We used some pretty robust data, in terms of what customers and members actually do when they’re on our digital platforms. And that’s what we built and mirrored against.’ Nicholas Cole – Test Manager /Lead Business Analyst

Looking to the future

Online customer journeys are varied and transactions complex. Because thinkTribe’s process begins – and ends – with the customer, it’s easier to unite the various teams and providers working towards a common objective.

By employing our accurate and actionable data, TGG has been able to optimise the customer experience, minimising downtime and maintaining engagement levels, even during periods of peak demand. Scaling up to projected traffic levels has also given the company the confidence that its digital platforms can handle expected growth over the next three years.

‘We gained confidence that our digital platforms can scale to a level we’d never go to before. The thinkTribe team helped us to really assess the quality of our infrastructure changes and ensure that our investment into performance had worked.’ Jim Hingston

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