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Taking Advantage Of The Peak Moments For Record-Setting Growth

By Ryan Bonifacino, Vice President of Digital Strategy, Alex and Ani

For a hyper-growth multi-channel retailer like Alex and Ani, it’s all about scale. We have to be ready for the peak moments, and our ecommerce platform has to be prepped to handle whatever comes our way.

Our model is pretty simple: we sell expandable wire bangle bracelets. They’ve become addictive and have made us the fastest growing retailer in the world. As a single store, we did about $2 million a year in revenue, and since the launch of our ecommerce site we’ve grown 11,000 percent. In 2012, our revenue hit $80 million. In 2013, it reached $230 million.

We moved to Rackspace Digital to scale for this growth. As the fastest growing retailer in the world, imagine how quickly our web presence is growing. Scale is critical. We have to have an environment that’s ready to accommodate increasing demand.  We selected an ecommerce platform on Magento Enterprise Edition hosted by Rackspace.

Rackspace gives us the ability to scale so we can focus on running a retail operation as opposed to running a technology company. We have large environment to support our Magento Enterprise Platform, which includes dedicated and Cloud Servers, a powerful load balancing solution for anticipated and unanticipated traffic, monitoring, performance acceleration services and separate environments within all of that to support non-consumer-facing solutions such as tools, servers, inter-department collaboration, testing and staging.

Combine it all, and this helps us prepare for what I call game-changing scenarios. That’s what excites me. We live for the peak moments; those are the biggest areas of opportunity for us.

In 2013, our peak moment started on Cyber Monday and lasted through Christmas. This year, it was the Super Bowl. We had to know what would happen whan 28,000 people hit our site simultaneously. And we had to guarantee that our site would stand up to it. Downtime equals loss of business – every second costs money – so maximizing uptime was key. Speed is also imperative – for every second added to the page load process our conversion rate drops by 7 percent. That adds up.

We look at Rackspace as an extension of our own IT team, but it goes deeper than just IT environments. We have counterparts at Rackspace who are digital marketers in these environments. We are all collaborating and we have a great relationship with Rackspace for Adobe, Magento, Akamai and other partners. It’s a true partnership model and Rackspace enables us to bridge the gap between traditional marketing, digital marketing, creative, product design and the agencies associated with production, planning and measurement.

Rackspace integrates all of this and has dedicated teams around the best of the best in digital. Rackspace has subject matter experts in house who know how these solutions work and what they’re like under the hood. Rackspace is the specialist. That’s valuable to us and proves that hosted technology is not a commodity; the people and the experience are what make the difference.

This is a guest post written and contributed by Ryan Bonifacino, Vice President of Digital Strategy at Alex and Ani, a Rackspace customer. Alex and Ani is a rapidly growing lifestyle brand, created by designer Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder, Creative Director and CEO. Alex and Ani is best known for its patented signature expandable wire bangles, which may be adjusted and personalized with a variety of special charms.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Ryan Bonifacino.

Ryan Bonifacino oversees digital marketing, online advertising, social media and e-commerce as the Vice President of Digital Strategy at Rhode Island-based lifestyle brand Alex and Ani, previously having served as Director and Strategic Advisor to the company beginning in 2010. With over 1,100 employees and 2013 revenues of $230 million, Alex and Ani is currently the fastest growing mid-sized retailer in the US, operating a multi-channel business model that includes over 40 inline retail stores, thousands of global retail partners and multiple ecommerce and digital properties. Prior to Alex and Ani, Ryan was a Principal at Hedgeforce, a hedge fund marketing firm that represented over $8 billion in alternative investment managers. Ryan lives in New York City and is an active investor and advisor in early and growth stage technology ventures and alternative investment funds through Mount Cuba Capital. He also is a member of the Executive Advisory Board at the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media.


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