Tommie Copper

Enhancing scalability and performance and providing platform stability for a rapidly growing e-Commerce business.

A young organization founded in 2011, Tommie Copper, has grown exponentially through the sales of their highly successful copper woven compression clothing. When Tommie Copper came to NorthPoint Digital, they were dealing with an ailing Drupal 7 site - www.tommiecopper.com - that functioned as their primary point of sales. The struggling site was severely underperforming and providing a slow and poor user experience. Millions of their online revenue was at stake. Given our team’s deep experience in performance tuning, Tommie Copper enlisted us - not only to improve the site, but to also enhance scalability and provide a stable foundation for a rapidly growing business.

Challenge

The site has performance issues, even under normal circumstances. In many cases, a heavy influx of visitor traffic would often cripple the site - thereby, decreasing visitor retention, user loyalty, and user satisfaction. Tommie Copper needed the site to be optimized for performance quickly and seamlessly. Further, improvements needed to be made to “failed” pages to convert them into pages that loaded.

Solution

With our deep experience in performance tuning and scaling enterprise sites to get them ready to handle millions of page views, we recognized that we had to decrease page load times down from several seconds. Using a number of tools and techniques, we worked closely with our hosting partner, Acquia, to help Tommie Copper address these challenges.

We started with a full architectural audit of the servers and the code base - evaluating the toolset in user, configuration of the servers, hosting requirements, and configuration along with full audit of the code and modules in use )and in some cases, the ones not in use). Based on this in-depth process, our team put a detailed plan in place to resolve the performance issues that were uncovered during the audit. 

Our team implemented a number of performance improvements to their e-commerce site including:

  • Proper implementation of Drupal 7’s caching mechanism
  • Proper utilization of Varnish
  • Proper implementation of memcached
  • Authenticated caching
  • Edge Side Includes and AJAX-loaded content
  • Code improvements to custom modules and site theme
  • AJAX-loaded shopping cart
  • AJAX-loaded inventory checks

As a result, in many cases, we were able to bring page load times down from many seconds to less than one second - all using existing infrastructure, and thereby adding no additional hosting costs. Further, with these improvements, users can see virtually instant page loads and real-time inventory selection options ensuring customers are able to purchase the exact products they are looking for instantly - essentially for an e-commerce organization.

Results

Page load times factor into search rankings, which is important for an e-commerce retailer like Tommie Copper. These improvements, once deployed to production using the same hosting set-up that the Acquia Cloud provided, offered instant results and allowed the site to perform exceedingly well. Page load times went all the way down from 5 - 11 seconds (or failures under heavy loads) to a consistent 0 - 2 seconds. The Apache/Drupal response clocked in at an average rate of approximately 100ms.