Instart Logic Gives Online Luxury Fashion Retailer Bonfaire both High-Resolution Imagery and Superior Web Application Performance The Challenge In luxury retail, beautiful, high resolution imagery is king. At Bonfaire, fashion lovers want to examine what they are buying in excruciating detail. That requires high-resolution imagery to highlight fine product details. As web publishers and e-tailers increase the size of images, it requires the delivery of more data to end users, which now, with the surge in tablets and smartphones, is often accessed over congested mobile and WiFi networks. The combination of larger web pages and congested networks drives up load times up dramatically. Bonfaire wanted to bring a high-end and immersive experience to its customers by using images 3-5 times larger than other luxury eCommerce sites. They also planned to put 6 or more of these images on each product page to give customers a far more detailed look than traditional retail site designs offer. “We chose consciously to shift the paradigm away from just having one large image on a page and alternate images that were tiny little thumbnails,” says Bonfaire CEO and founder Keiron McCammon. “We wanted to create a magazine page feel where we stacked several big ‘hero’ images vertically and page transitions are almost instant – like flicking a page and thumb scrolling.”
CUSTOMER PROFILE Company: Bonfaire Location: San Francisco, California Description: Bonfaire is a high-end luxury online retailer that allows users to discover and pre-order next season’s hard-to-find luxury shoes, handbags and accessories direct from upand-coming designers in New York, Paris, Milan and other centers of high fashion around the world. After launching in September 2012, Bonfaire already has 50,000+ members and counts hundreds of designers
This design vision created extremely large web pages. Loading these pages quickly would be a challenge, particularly for an audience accustomed to extremely responsive websites. With half of his users accessing the website on mobile devices over potentially slow wireless networks, McCammon knew he needed to speed up Bonfaire’s site dramatically to maintain fast response times while serving several “hero” images per page. Bonfaire also planned to increase collection sizes and release new products daily. McCammon knew this would generate big traffic spikes on the site, but he didn’t want to have to scale his servers in Heroku up and down at great expense, or to force his team to work extra cycles managing for peak loads. Even if Bonfaire did scale servers out to handle the traffic, load times would probably have run 10 seconds to 15 seconds per page because the images would not have been close to the users. “Our goal was to maintain a very small core infrastructure footprint and to push as much of the web application delivery out to other services,” says McCammon. During Bonfaire’s beta testing period, McCammon deployed to Amazon’s CloudFront Content Delivery Network but found its performance insufficient to meet his needs and deliver the site fast enough. Bonfaire needed a Web performance solution that would: • Allow users to see and interact with the site very quickly • Enable high-end interactive luxury web experiences with very large images • Deliver the site quickly even over slow mobile connections • Scale to handle peak loads from traffic spikes without building out its own infrastructure
among its seasonal collections.
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Our goal is to create a high-end luxury experience and showcase our designer’s products in an amazing way to draw the users in, get them immersed and feeling they are going into a showroom in the real world. Working with Instart helped us nail that goal.” Keiron McCammon CEO and Founder of Bonfaire
McCammon opted to trial the service in 2012. He liked the fact that it required no changes to his code, no hardware or software installs and worked in modern web browsers with no user actions required. “We only had to change our DNS settings. I loved that there was no vendor lock-in with Instart Logic and that it plugged in so quickly and seamlessly to our infrastructure,” says McCammon. The Instart technology approach of cutting web assets into smaller pieces and streaming them in order of priority, made total sense to McCammon. “Unlike legacy solutions, Instart Logic says ‘I can break this 1 megabyte file and start streaming the bytes immediately to let your users interact faster and improve their experience.’ This is a fundamentally better way to solve the problem,” says McCammon. Bonfaire ran the Instart Logic system side by side against Amazon CloudFront to compare performance. After seeing clear superiority of Instart Logic over CloudFront, McCammon switched all Bonfaire traffic onto the Instart Logic Web Application Streaming Network™.
The Result Initial tests on Instart Logic yielded a dramatic improvement in load times, allowing users to interact with Bonfaire’s magazine-like pages 2x faster than traditional CDN web performance approaches. That translated into higher user engagement, more pages clicked, and a better conversion rate for users buying haute accessories. “Users are getting much more immediate access to the product and that really draws people in and keeps them clicking,” says McCammon, who elected to use Instart Logic for Bonfaire’s launch. “We launch 5 to 6 new collections weekly. Instart Logic reliably lets us manage resulting traffic peaks without adding scale to our infrastructure.” Thanks to Instart Logic’s global network of 30 locations mapped across all the major Internet peering points, McCammon never worries whether fashion lovers can get their click fix fast enough after the promotions for a new collection go live. Wireless users, says McCammon, have not complained about web performance and that’s great because mobile networks are most likely to introduce latency to the Bonfaire user experience. Says McCammon, “Instart Logic’s core technology does what it says on the package. It just works.”
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