ZALORA, founded in 2012, is Asia’s leading online fashion destination. It has millions of customers across Asia, with a presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. ZALORA’s localised sites offer an extensive collection of top international and local brands as well as its own in-house labels across apparel, shoes, and accessories for men and women. ZALORA is part of Global Fashion Group, the world's leader in online fashion for emerging markets.
ZALORA meets surging shopper demand on mega-sales days with New Relic
It was like a scene out of a James Bond movie.
A ZALORA engineer had boarded their flight but had to quickly abandon their seat when alerted to a potentially critical technical issue.
“That really saved the day and it was thanks to New Relic,” recalls Silvia Thom, Chief Technology Officer at ZALORA.
The organisation has been a New Relic customer since 2018 and appreciates the technology’s ability to uncover blind-spot vulnerabilities and critical errors that can adversely affect end-user experience.
Online retail has risen dramatically since the pandemic hit, and many of ZALORA’s brand partners have had to close physical retail stores and collaborate with ZALORA, creating a new dynamic.
"Online sales events are always very demanding from a technical point of view. Many online retailers suffer outages, and we’ve also experienced issues in past years. With the continued rise of online shopping, driven significantly by the COVID-19 crisis, we knew we needed to increase our New Relic usage to get observability and optimise our systems," Silvia says.
With its system architecture growing increasingly complex, and more applications needing to be monitored every year, ZALORA decided to go for full observability. It massively scaled up its use of New Relic in terms of host count. In September 2020 ZALORA had 270 hosts, rising to 300 in a matter of weeks.
Using New Relic has also helped prevent issues from escalating, fixing them before they impact the end customer experience.
"One transaction, in particular, made a number of requests to the database, causing the entire system to become sluggish due to a system overload. New Relic was quick and efficient in identifying the rogue query, which allowed us to optimise the code and saved us a considerable amount of downtime," Silvia says.
"When there is a mega day, the revenue that we're making is really crucial for us as a business. Any potential downtime, even if it's just a couple of minutes, would have a significant financial impact"
Silvia Thom, Chief Technology Officer, ZALORA
ZALORA now has a "single pane of glass" overview of all its systems and can carry out load testing.
With mega sale days falling on dates such as 9/9,10/10 and 11/11, the tech team at online fashion powerhouse ZALORA is constantly on high alert. The surge in traffic on these days is immense, to say the least, putting a strain on systems, while uptime is all the more critical.
"When there is a mega day, the revenue that we're making is really crucial for us as a business. Any potential downtime, even if it's just a couple of minutes, would have a significant financial impact," explains Silvia.
Silvia says New Relic is central to ZALORA’s pre-load testing regime as it’s critical to ensure that network capacity can scale to manage traffic spikes on mega sale days. To prepare for 11/11, ZALORA used New Relic’s platform to record and collect data on transactions from past sales events. This was then used as an estimate for the 11/11 campaign. The results were spectacular, with far higher success in terms of customers and conversions than previous years:
Group Net Merchandise Value: 30.6% YoY Growth
Group New Customers: 18.1% YoY Growth
Group Reactivated Customers: 68.2% YoY Growth
Group Conversion Rate: 22.2% YoY improvement
"Running a load test with the estimation gave us a good number of servers and specifications for our database which we employed to pre-scale the systems before sales events," Silvia says. "We now use New Relic a lot in load testing for peak sale events - that’s where we see the most value. In the weeks leading up to a sale period, we load-test the microservices, all the different apps, and all the different underlying infrastructure across all the different country sites, to make sure that they perform as expected on those days."
"It’s very important for my team that they can move fast and have the right tools at hand to solve any particular part of their engineering puzzle."
The next step for ZALORA is moving over to New Relic One, which will eliminate host-based pricing and thus be more cost-effective, as well as delivering the ability to instrument “everything”, she says.
The company is also modernising existing architecture to help accelerate time to market, and growing its SRE team by 33% to around 40 experts in 2021, increasingly focused on observability.
ZALORA is also looking at implementing SLOs, SLA, and SLIs within its engineering teams and setting specific KPIs, Silvia adds, a move introduced after attending a recent New Relic workshop.
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