In February 2000, Marcio Kumruian and Hagop Chabab opened a sporting goods store called Netshoes Group across the street from Mackenzie University in São Paulo, Brazil. Two years later, the burgeoning company launched its e-commerce operations, and within five years it had shut down its brick-and-mortar storefronts and moved the entire shopping experience online. Today, with more than 50 million people visiting its websites monthly, 10 million followers on social networks, and operations in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, Netshoes Group is the largest pure-play e-commerce sports retailer in the world—and in December of 2014 the company launched the online fashion store, Zattini.

Ensuring that innovation and performance go hand in hand

Key to Netshoes Group’s astonishing growth has been its consistently innovative use of technology. From the 3D scanner system that allows customers to compare the sizes of different shoe models (know your size in every brand!) to a mobile app that identifies tennis shoe models by photos and then enables customers to purchase them via their devices, Netshoes Group is constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience through technology.

As Eduardo Berti, IT infrastructure manager for the company’s e-commerce department, says, “IT is the body and soul of Netshoes Group. Because we are a 100% e-commerce company, technology is our life blood—and it’s not just about doing flashy things on the website. It’s also about making sure that site navigation and usability are constantly optimized, so that there are no bottlenecks and that the website performs exactly as expected. Only then can we rest assured that we’re providing the best possible purchase experience for our customers.”

With this in mind, the tech team at Netshoes Group knew that when it came time to migrate its e-commerce operations to a new platform, that platform would need to be thoroughly vetted—comparing the performance of the new with the old. Finding the right tool for this task, however, proved difficult.

“We went to the global market and searched for some tools, but no single tool was able to provide us with all that we wanted,” says Thiago Cotting, lead systems engineer for Netshoes Group. The reason? Netshoes Group was not content to assess just application and server performance—as did most such tools. Instead, it wanted something that could monitor both the Internet and back-office environments—in other words, a tool that could link Netshoes Group’s technological vision with the all-important business decisions that drive performance.

“With New Relic, we’re able to focus on not just the applications and technology but also on the impacts any bottlenecks might have on the business.”

Thiago Cotting Lead Systems Engineer, Netshoes Group

Optimizing performance by understanding every aspect

The answer came in the form of a tool recommended by one of Netshoes Group’s partners. Says Cotting, “One of our partners had already been employing New Relic for his personal use, and he suggested that we investigate it for the task at hand. My team did just that and ended up implementing it immediately. Installation was quick and simple; all of the instructions were right on the website; and within a few hours we had already pinpointed and analyzed bottlenecks in the database that we were able to improve right off the bat. That, in turn, enabled us to accelerate the migration process with a better platform than the one we previously owned.”

And that was just the beginning: Today Netshoes Group uses every New Relic tool it can get its hands on to monitor every aspect of its business. For Netshoes Group Head of IT Infrastructure Rafaela Paiva, that means starting and ending each day with New Relic: “The first thing I do every morning when I come in to work is open my New Relic APM dashboard—that is, if I haven’t already accessed it from my smart phone or tablet at home. If we’ve just launched a campaign or done something that will bring market visibility to Netshoes Group, I’m able to see from that dashboard the immediate impact of our efforts. If users have tripled as a result of a newly launched campaign, for example, I know that I need to act quickly—adding or removing servers. New Relic gives me ease of mind because I always have a good idea of how our environment is working as a whole.”

Cotting echoes Paiva’s assessment, pointing also to the use of New Relic Synthetics, New Relic APM, New Relic Browser, and New Relic Insights as key factors in keeping the Netshoes Group site up and running and delighting customers. “With New Relic, we’re able to focus on not just the applications and technology but also on the impacts any bottlenecks might have on the business,” he says. “This is huge for us.”

By using New Relics Synthetics, for example, the company can monitor its sites throughout Latin America from the users’ perspective—seeing response times and availability during every minute of every day. This is enormously helpful for maintaining service-level agreements (SLAs), says Cotting, because New Relic provides Netshoes Group with monthly reports showing the status of all its web pages. “That means that each month, we can compare the reports and see if we’ve increased or decreased our response times or improved our availability,” he says. “This is one of our favorite New Relic features because it ensures that we have representative figures on how our website is performing and real indicators of areas we need to work on.”

Relatively new to Netshoes Group’s New Relic product mix—but gaining traction fast—is Insights. Through the use of Insights dashboards, the company can combine real-time data on user consumption (such as which pages are getting the most hits, what campaigns are generating the most sales, and how products are performing regionally) with infrastructure technology information. “This is incredibly powerful stuff,” says Cotting, “because we can now link IT with marketing, providing up-to-the-minute results about how our customers are shopping in our store—information that our marketing and e-commerce folks can use to close deals.” Best of all, the easy visual representation of the information in the New Relic dashboards mean that it’s accessible to all—not just the self-admitted “data nerds” in the IT department.

“Every minute that our site is slow or we’re unable to deliver value to the consumer, we lose revenue and fail to achieve our primary goal—the sale of products. New Relic helps our team save an enormous amount of time and energy diagnosing problems and monitoring our technology.”

Eduardo Berti IT Infrastructure Manager, Netshoes Group

Constant monitoring for constantly improved operations

The longer Netshoes Group employs New Relic, the more benefits it continues to discover. Chief among them, however, are the time savings it affords for both customers and employees. Explains Berti, “Every minute that our site is slow or we’re unable to deliver value to the consumer, we lose revenue and fail to achieve our primary goal—the sale of products.New Relic helps our team save an enormous amount of time and energy diagnosing problems and monitoring our technology. And that in turn ensures that our customers’ dealings with our site are fast and effective.”

So just how much time does New Relic save Netshoes Group technicians? Both Cotting and Paiva put that number at 30%. What’s more, swift identification and resolution of problems mean that downtime all but disappears and availability approaches 100%. Says Cotting, “If for some reason our website starts to crash, we can immediately see the problem in New Relic as well as what’s causing it. This means that we can turn off a feature or go back and change or add more instances to the website, and in that way guarantee that the site will be available.”

The result: increased agility, better decision-making, and improved customer service. Says Paiva, “I manage and oversee both the corporate pillar and the e-commerce pillar, and New Relic is key in helping me meet the needs of both. With New Relic providing visibility into the environment as a whole, I can be more assertive when a situation needs to be fixed as well as when business decisions needs to be made. In the end, it’s our customers who benefit the most, and that’s exactly how it should be.”

Going forward, Netshoes Group plans to continue making full use of the New Relic toolset—especially Insights, which the company has just begun to scratch the surface of through its recent trial. Says Paiva, “With Insights, we see the potential for using New Relic to add value to the entire business chain—combining technological insights with real insight into user behavior so that our marketers and business leaders can make better decisions."