In an English pub in 2000, when a friend of John Roberts bet him £1 that he couldn’t sell white goods—AKA home appliances such as ovens, fridges, and dishwashers—over the internet, Roberts vowed to prove his mate wrong. How? By establishing Appliances Online, which in 2013 rebranded as AO.com. Known for its customer service and slick product review videos (produced in-house), AO.com now offers more than 5,000 products. Those products have expanded to include other essential home electronics such as small appliances, TV and audio systems, laptops, desktops, and computing accessories.
Competing on experience
As a retailer making the majority of its sales through its e-commerce platform, AO.com knows that solid IT is crucial to its ongoing success. For Director of Systems Engineering Carl Phillips, who oversees 10 developer teams, that means also taking responsibility for various ERP and logistics systems, most of which are built in-house.
But Phillips’ main focus, naturally, is AO.com’s customer-facing website. ‘We compete by providing amazing customer service and on experience and convenience—how simple and enjoyable it is to use our website’, he says. ‘That means we have to ship new features or optimisations as fast as we possibly can—certainly faster than any of our competitors.’
For Phillips, the performance monitoring data provided by New Relic is absolutely key to maintaining that competitive edge. But why did AO.com choose New Relic to begin with?
Data-rich and ready to scale
Like many organisations that have experienced rapid growth, AO.com ran into some issues related to scalability. ‘As we matured as an engineering organisation, we had a lot of hand-rolled instrumentation that just wasn't scaling with us’, Phillips says.
Scaling up required keeping better tabs on how the company’s various systems were performing. Having tried and rejected other monitoring tools, Phillips was instantly impressed by what New Relic could offer. ‘The first time I logged into it, I was just amazed by the richness of the data. I knew straightaway that we'd found what we needed.’