AllSaints plans for peak fashion with thinkTRIBE’s managed load testing service
Flash sale events, seasonal offers and celebrity influencer recommendations trigger valuable consumer pull for fashion e-tailers. But sudden spikes in demand can strain web capacity to breaking point. One of the UK’s most popular and successful fashion brands turned to thinkTRIBE to help ensure customers continued to enjoy a positive online experience, even during peak periods.
Even before the pandemic hit, online sales had been an increasingly important contributor to AllSaints’ success. But, as high-street stores were forced to close, the brand’s online sales soared to new heights, climbing by 70 percent during a period that also saw its customer base increase by a third.
An agile fashion retail model
Established in London in 1994, AllSaints is a global brand with an independent spirit. Headquartered in East London with studios in LA, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo, its global team of more than 3,000 members works hand-in-hand with 100 manufacturing partners and 50 brand business partners to create full collections of womenswear, menswear and accessories. They also proudly deliver every aspect of the brand experience in-house, from store design and construction to their online platforms.
The constrained trading conditions of the last year meant that the management team had to refocus its strategy to ensure the company was able to navigate the challenges posed by a very different marketing and distribution environment. Since the inception of the website, AllSaints has enjoyed significant year-on-year growth of both traffic and revenue.
An outstanding user experience (UX) is essential to fulfilling AllSaints’ commitment to the highest levels of quality, whatever the level of demand. However, a combination of pandemic-fuelled buying patterns coupled with other factors – such as flash sale events arising from email marketing campaigns or the leverage from celebrity influencers – led to sharp spikes in footfall that had the potential to adversely impact performance or site availability.
‘We didn’t want to commit, long-term, to infrastructure that we only needed for a week or two weeks. We wanted to reset the baseline and still have the foresight to scale up when we needed to, knowing the system would take it. Load testing with thinkTRIBE gave us that flexibility.’
– Andy Dean Technical Operations Manager
Planning for the peaks
AllSaints’ Technical Operations Manager, Andy Dean, recognised the need to collaborate with a partner with thinkTRIBE’s expertise to make sure that the website could accommodate anticipated traffic levels and deliver on business objectives.
For businesses experiencing strong growth, coupled with seasonal peaks, effective load testing is essential. thinkTRIBE ran a variety of scenarios to mimic different conditions such as rapid and staggered growth, as well as soak and saturation testing. We focused on different spike profiles including a Black Friday peak, influencer peak and email campaign peak. To find a threshold that comfortably supports growth, while accommodating traffic spikes, requires a realistic approach to testing.
thinkTRIBE’s load model is based on actual user journeys. We scripted dynamic journeys for AllSaints, factoring in growth forecasts to thoroughly simulate an increasing number of concurrent users carrying out multi-page transactions.
‘thinkTRIBE work as an extension of our own team, deploying scripts and providing contextualised analysis and feedback to create valuable insights that inform our technical response.’ – Andy Dean Technical Operations Manager
Growing with grace
Despite the turbulence experienced by retailers in 2020, AllSaints ended up recording its busiest period in the company’s 25-year history, thanks largely to a doubling of online sales.
Effective load testing enabled the AllSaints’ tech team to push the platform a lot harder, safe in the knowledge that any weak links regarding capacity had been detected and resolved. It enabled the marketing team to confidently schedule email campaigns without the need to stagger them over an extended timeframe safeguard the website’s availability.
By better understanding flow and capacity, web managers are able not only to isolate issues before they impact customers, but to feel confident about having the right infrastructure in place for predicted traffic profiles.
‘We’ve got to be dynamic. We can’t just think all our customers are going to behave in the same way forever, we need the ability to adapt the platform, and to adapt our scripting to suit our evolving needs.’
As customer journeys become more complex, so brands need the versatility to fine tune their eCommerce operations to ensure optimal engagement.
AllSaints now has the infrastructure to support any rapid rise in online traffic, as well as to sustain the gradual and incremental growth it’s predicting in the coming months and years. Scaling up to projected traffic levels in this way enables digital platforms to flex effectively in response to fluctuating demand.
‘Naturally, we’re striving to be the best; by comparing our performance against a broader industry benchmark, we can also see how our web response stacks up against other retailers, too.’