Increased revenue achieved through selling directly to consumers on an eCommerce platform with real-time image rendering
The jewelry industry has been around for a long time and you may think there isn’t room for innovation. Lashbrook has been a pioneer in this ancient industry with its innovative designs and approach. It has brought home 25 international design awards and was ranked as one of Utah’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies for the last three years.
Lashbrook had been working on a website with a different vendor for 2 years and it was still not up and working. Lashbrook wanted to have an online presence, but the process was taking too long and they weren’t making any progress.
When Lashbrook reached out to Tech9 for help with their website, the first step was to work together to craft the vision. Lashbrook shared with us what they wanted out of the site and additional features were brainstormed that they could use to showcase their capability. The end result of all the collaboration and idea sharing was a shared vision.
The platform that the previous vendor was using was not suited for the vision. Tech9 suggested that changing the front-end platform would be the quickest way to achieve measurable results. Lashbrook agreed and the work was started to create a website that truly differentiates Lashbrook from its competitors.
Tech9 started delivering fast. Tech9 promised to deliver the first iteration in 6 months. Lashbrook’s new website was live a few days before the promised date and started taking orders.
Turning a vision into reality took more than creating a regular eCommerce website. At Lashbrook, each ring is customized and crafted by hand. The goal was for customers to preview what a ring would look like when they chose different materials and designs. On the new platform, a feature was created that could display a rendering of a finished product in real-time.
At the start of the project with Lashbrook, the customization was limited to the base metal and a few other features. Lashbrook wanted to add inside sleeves, inlays, and all other features that no one had been able to build for them. By customizing the solution, Tech9 made it possible and increased the number of possible ring combinations from 100,000 to more than 1 billion.
Scaling through AWS – Simple Storage Service (S3), Cloudfront, and Elastic Beanstalk
This real-time image rendering required a large volume of transactional data to be processed seamlessly. In order to create a smooth user experience, Tech9 decided to use AWS. According to Phil Stice, the project manager, “AWS has been a major player. AWS is so scalable that it meets this type of implementation so well.”
Tech9 leveraged S3 Storage and Cloudfront to statically serve a modern web application written using React. We utilized Lambda@Edge services to inject dynamic content into this page where needed, such as social media metadata for sharing links.
More specifically for image rendering, Tech9 leveraged the above services to provide a service that can build a composite of multiple layer images on demand. Boasting an inventory of nearly 1 million original layer images, a Lambda service automatically generated optimized versions and sizes of these images when added to the repository. This resulting set of nearly 3 million images (> 1TB of images) is used by another Lambda service to build a composite jewelry image based on all of the various options the user has selected (resulting in nearly 1 billion possible combinations). The images requested are cached in Cloudfront, allowing the site to very quickly serve common configurations and combinations to anywhere in the world.
Elastic Beanstalk services comprise the remaining portions of the application. One part is an API layer hosted on an EC2 instance. The other serves the remaining portions of the site in Magento and WordPress. The ability to scale on demand and create additional environment instances has allowed Lashbrook to easily pursue strategic partnerships with other resellers/third-parties to host and manage isolated instances of the application, custom-tailored for their use. Each of these environments is backed by RDS MySQL services to manage all of the data and configuration necessary for capturing orders and managing combinations of features.
A New Website, A New Business Model
Lashbrook’s initial business model was to sell to retail stores. The new website allowed them to think of a new business model: selling directly to end-users. At the beginning of 2019, Lashbrook shared this idea and the development team got to work. Tech9 had built a website that is scalable so that within a few months, we could distinguish and launch a website that not only continues to support the retail stores but was also a direct consumer site.
Tech9 went beyond the mark to improve the user experience. First, a new learning section was added for individual customers who are not accustomed to the jewelry industry jargon. Second, since the vast majority of direct orders came through mobile, optimizations were made to make the website more mobile-friendly. Lastly, a wizard was added that walks the customer through the purchase process step by step.
Results: Tech Happily
This website is how Lashbrook is leading innovation and showing its pioneer spirit again. The number of customization images increased by 999,900%. With added channels through direct sales to end-users and strategic partnerships, Lashbrook could increase revenues by 20%. Over the next few stages of development, they expect that number to double, going up to 40%.
Tech9 delivered value fast and often by using agile development. The website that couldn’t go live for 2 years, went live in 6 months. Since then, more features have been added almost every 6 months, bringing more value to Lashbrook.
There are no plans to stop here. In 4 months, the site will be completely migrated out of the old platform, including the back-end. Upcoming plans also include women’s jewelry and more modification to the UX design to make it friendlier for direct purchase customers. Tech9 believes that these things will distinguish Lashbrook as a true trendsetter in the industry.
Working with Tech9
Lashbrook has made multiple requests of the site, and because the software is built in the right way, the infrastructure is already in place to immediately support the requests. Tech9 believes in writing software that will actually be used.
When it comes to software development, many people know about the outsourcing option and yet they are hesitant to try or commit to it. Tech9 has a success formula that brings the business and developers together. Tech9 facilitates collaboration that enables the business’ vision to become a reality. Talk to us. We can help you Tech Happily, too.