For residents of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Sportamore AB is the online destination of choice for sporting goods and apparel. The company offers the widest portfolio of sporting goods, including more than 15,000 products from more than 300 brands, for 30 different sports and activities.

Founded in 2009, Sportamore has experienced tremendous success. “Last year (2016) alone, we grew 29 percent,” says Mikael Flodman, CTO at Sportamore. “We are now the biggest online sporting goods site in the Nordic region.”

With no physical stores, Sportamore’s competitive differentiators are all about choice and speed. “If you live in one of the major Nordic cities, you can have your order within three hours, delivered to your door,” says Flodman. “This level of service is not available anywhere else in this region.”

Rolling out new products and features quickly

Becoming the top online destination—and staying there—for sports equipment and apparel requires a commitment to continuous innovation. The software used to deliver this level of customer experience and service at Sportamore is no exception.

“We build most of our websites, software, and apps in house, including our logistics, warehouse, and purchasing systems,” says Flodman. “Using a continuous deployment and DevOps approach, we can roll out new products and features quickly.” The nimble technology team at Sportamore currently includes 20 people, most of whom are developers.

Sportamore’s technology stack includes nginx, Django, and PostgreSQL, running on on-premises servers. The company also takes advantage of Solr, Memcached, and Redis. While production is hosted on Sportamore’s own servers, the company uses Amazon Web Services for failover.

Monitoring the customer experience and more

With no physical locations, the majority of the Sportamore customer experience relies entirely on their website and apps. That’s why the technology team needed a way to monitor and track its customer-facing software to ensure it was delivering an optimal experience.

When Sportamore’s CTO first saw New Relic at an industry conference and through further investigation, he knew it was the answer. “Now we use New Relic to monitor pretty much everything whether it consumer-facing or a critical internal service, from our servers to the front-end customer experience, to our mobile app,” says Flodman. “With New Relic, you see immediately where performance may be starting to lag, whether it’s in the database layer or application layer or throughout.”

Flodman describes some of the top use cases for New Relic within Sportamore:

  • Alerting: “We rely heavily on New Relic to tell us when new code results in performance degradation or when something unexpected happens in our software.”
  • Troubleshooting: “New Relic takes us deep into the code when there are more complex issues to resolve.”
  • Deployment tracking: “We deploy several times a day, which gets tracked in New Relic. New Relic gives us a greater sense of security and increased confidence in frequent deployments that we’ll be able to react quickly to unforeseen changes in performance.”
  • Sharing performance data: “In addition to the technology team’s own use of New Relic dashboards to monitor performance, we are introducing them to the commercial side of the company, including marketing. With New Relic, we’re giving our business partners the ability to track e-commerce performance such as conversion rates.”

“We deploy several times a day, which gets tracked in New Relic. New Relic gives us a greater sense of security and increased confidence in frequent deployments that we’ll be able to react quickly to unforeseen changes in performance.”

Mikael Flodman Chief Technology Officer, Sportamore

Taking on Black Friday

What started as a U.S. phenomenon—Black Friday and its massive retail campaigns and sales beginning in late November—has been spreading to other parts of the world. The Nordic countries are no exception.

“Black Friday was an import from the U.S.,” says Flodman. “And it was a really, really big event for us this past year.” While starting slowly the previous year, Black Friday suddenly caught on with Nordic consumers. Sportamore experienced a heavy load peak during the 2016 Black Friday far beyond anything they had experienced before. “Thanks to New Relic, we got the warning signals early and were able to stay ahead of the curve and spin up additional application servers to handle the traffic,” says Flodman. “Black Friday ended up being four times larger than what we previously saw on the run-up to the Christmas delivery cut-off.”

Continuing to innovate

The technology team at Sportamore continues to plan big and execute quickly to keep customers returning to the online retailer. One of the areas where the team is focusing its efforts next is adding more personalization to the customer’s website experience and how the company communications with customers. “We want to deepen the use of segmentation and personalization to get closer to customers,” says Flodman.

New Relic will be there to help the team close the feedback loop on their efforts. “With New Relic, we can monitor how changes to the customer experience are performing across all channels,” says Flodman. “We can have one view of the customer and share that information with the rest of the organization.”

If innovation and continuous deployment were sports, the technology team at Sportamore would be world-class athletes. As it is, they’re already well on their way to make the online shopping experience a game changer.