Case Studies

Supporting E-Commerce

In 2017 we started pushing our monthly support service as the primary product by ITrex. The idea was that all of our clients could now fall under the same structure. A year later and it’s been the best switch we’ve ever done. Higherground was our very first client to work with us on this new model.

About Higherground

Higherground is a high end shop which specialises in selling carpets, wood flooring, rugs and stair runners. Their MD, Gerard is one of those directors that you know you can trust. His showroom is polished to perfection. His attention to detail on client work is incredible and the products they pick to sell in store are always quality. For these reasons they also needed to present that quality online and have a team that looked after their technology every day and was their to help them grow. They have always had the ambition to grow and the desire to expand their reach online. This was an incredible responsibility and it was important for us to deliver at the same level of quality that his customers expected from him.

How we have helped so far

Website

Working with Higherground and their creative agency Warren Creative we have made it our responsibility to ensure their web technologies deliver and grow their business. Over the last year we have helped them evolve their website from what was a series of static pages all the way to a fully featured e-commerce website.

Growth

Each month we have improved the Higherground website. We have increased the speed of their website so now it one of the fastest supplier sites in this domain online. This speed improvement has helped website management, it’s improved customer experience and it’s helping every day with SEO rankings from google.

Since the speed improvement we have seen user session duration improve by around 30%.

Each month we have also helped the company manage products and grow it’s product range. Adding new product ranges has meant improving the way products are managed and working with many interested parties.

Ongoing
Moving forward we will and are excited to continue to support Higherground and help them to grow and build their business any way we can.

 

If you would like us to help you too please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Building an MVP

Building an MVP is an exciting time for any business. Recently we were approached by an experienced academic at one of the top two UK Universities that’s working closely with industry and was looking to better understand data in the industry. This is always a tricky problem.

There were two objectives in this case

  1. Create an MVP that solves the problem for the academic and industry partner
  2. Create something that adds enough value that it would warrant further monthly investment from the industry partner

Much of this project is under NDA so we cannot talk about the problem itself but we can talk about the general solution and the approach.

Solving these problems require a range of skills.

1. We first had to understand and break down the problem. This is no easy feat. It takes a good number of hours or days really pulling the problem apart, maybe writing some code, investigating technologies and figuring out a general direction and a hierarchy of what parts of the problem are more valuable than others so everyone is on the same page.

  1. Next we considered the simplest possible thing we could technically deliver which would add value to the client right away
  2. We then needed to assign roles and responsibilities
  3. Finally we build the solution, always staying in constant communication and making minor adjustments on the fly if needed

The Solution

The proposed solution was a kind of analytics engine that was a combination of proprietary and internet scraped data. Starting this way meant we could built something that would provide insight into the problem while also giving the client a way to do generalised analytics on a previously nonexistent dataset.

We started by choosing two things. Firstly the data we needed to analyse and the technology we were going to build the engine on top of. We went with an AWS architecture. This meant we could scale easily and deal with large amounts of data easily. We linked up a whole range of micro services to deliver the product.

The AWS pieces

  • We had an infinite flat file database on AWS S3
  • A DynamoDB database to help us do queries.
  • We had proprietary code running in lambda functions and docker containers to help cut down on the need for infrastructure
  • We used SQS to help us manage the disconnected nature of our platform.
  • We also had a simple website for monitoring and AWS’s Elastic search doing some of the heavy listing.

The flow of data

We setup the data such that we could continually do operations on it and ad new workers in at any time. It meant that we could start by scraping and looking at simple flat file data and later down the line we were able to add in a machine learning processing node.

The Output

The MVP was well received and delivered on it’s objective. We are excited to be doing more on this project already and we are looking forward to see where it goes.

 

Coming soon is a tutorial series on how to setup your own analytics engine.

Our First Client

Back when our company was very new we started by making a name for ourselves as the team that can use statistics to solve the tricky problems. Our first example (Over 10 years ago now!!) of this was helping an events photography company break into a new digital market. This company had won a contract to work with Cheltenham races to do all of the ‘boots on the ground’ photography and deliver snapshots of these experiences to the people that attended the races.

Our mission was to help the company test some new approaches to their technology and sales and provide data so they could make better decisions in the future.

This was a technical and business strategy oriented task so we approached it in four phases.

  1. The Diagnosis
  2. The Test
  3. The Execution
  4. The Analysis

The Diagnosis
They had three problems

1/ They were not selling online

Their service was almost entirely offline. They were making sales of physical pictures, framed and more, but they weren’t able to sell digital photos online or able to let a customer buy later if they had not converted on the day.

2/ They were not getting their images online at a speed they were happy with.

Their images were being uploaded to the servers later on in the day and overnight and buying them was very complicated. This meant people could not buy later on in the day and had to wait. Event photos are bought during the excitement of the event so waiting to get their content online was costing them dearly.

3/ They were curious about QR codes on images

They wanted to answer questions like: Would using QR codes help them convert third party customers or customers on the day?  Would using QR codes help people to find their own images again.

The test

To test all of this we needed a cleverly coordinated strategy. We first collaborated with Adobe and we built a simple AWS platform and REST API to get the images online as fast as possible, meanwhile a senior Adobe engineer created a plugin for Adobe Lightroom that would plug into our cloud. Adobe also added QR codes to these images and we saved the data for the QR codes in our system.

Next we built a mobile web application in jQuery Mobile and Zend Framework to deliver a hybrid platform experience which would allow users to follow their QR codes and get to their images. From there a user could share their image on facebook and buy their image on a cup or canvas.

We also threw in some advertising banners as requested by the client.

The Execution

The app was very simple barebones MVP style app. It was designed to test a problem and thrown away soon after. For that reason we were monitoring the app and every error was logged in real time during the weekend of the event. It went rather smoothly with zero downtime and we even hacked in a sponsor switch for day two last minute seeing as there were no problems.

The Results
The app it’s self was flooded with analytics, everything from user statistics and detailed information about every click and scroll was measured.

All in all we found out many years ago what everyone knows instinctually now, and that’s QR codes were not be best feature of this app and speed to access the photo was correlated with sales. QR codes were used by males 5x more than females. Also many people loved the free share on facebook option and there was potential to market this further in the future.

Overall everyone was happy with the outcome of this project, it was exciting and rapid and the insights gained were valuable.