How We Started
The Com7 group owns several retail brands in Thailand that are household names. The largest of these brands is BaNANA (BNN). Shoppers in Thailand know that BaNANA is one of the best places to go to buy electronics. They can also get friendly technical advice from BaNANA’s knowledgeable staff.
Com7 reached out to MAQE in January 2020 with a mission. The BaNANA website had been handling more and more orders, so the primary goal of the project was to replace an aging Magento installation which had been suffering from performance and scalability issues.
The COVID-19 outbreak also increased the urgency of getting the older platform replaced. When we started to talk to Com7, shopping malls were being closed in an attempt to contain the outbreak and put social distancing measures in place. This meant that 100% of BaNANA physical retail operations had ceased, putting more pressure on the website. As the site suffered from real performance issues when supporting over 500 concurrent users, any increased volume caused huge problems.
So urgent work was required to not only support increased traffic levels from more people ordering online since COVID, but it also had to handle huge traffic from big pre-order campaigns, such as the PS5 launch. iPhone launches too were a key consideration as BNN is one of the biggest sellers of Apple products in Thailand.
Getting To The Next Level
MAQE spoke to Com7’s CIO, their Head of Innovation and their Head of eCommerce to clarify what challenges they were facing with the bnn.in.th site.
They clearly wanted to evolve the BNN site. The status quo was no longer working and they had several goals they wanted to achieve with the project.
Com7 wanted a custom rebuild of the bnn.in.th site, without using Magento. Com7 had previously used Magento and had lost confidence in the platform. Magento caused Com7 a variety of issues, mainly related to speed and scalability.
Com7 also wanted to keep all the existing features of the site but build a scalable and customizable solution that could adapt to the business needs both now and in the future.
There were also back office processes that needed to be optimized. At the time, there were a lot of processes that took place that required manual workarounds. Com7 wanted to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of manual work that had to be done.
Another challenge that Com7 wanted to resolve was the overall look and feel of the website. Com7 felt that the website needed to look more modern to appeal more to their tech-savvy customers.
Working with a well-known brand on such a big project would be a tough but very rewarding experience for the MAQE team. With big product launches on the horizon, MAQE had to deliver a great looking website that could handle the high traffic that previously brought the site to a halt.
Building & Optimizing, Together
One of the first challenges we had to resolve was to replace Magento and custom build a new platform for Com7. They needed a new platform that could handle large amounts of traffic and fit the exact needs of their business, in 6 to 8 months.
This had to be achieved with as little operational impact as possible. BNN is a large-scale eCommerce website, so performance and scalability were crucial factors.
MAQE’s approach was to achieve a minimum viable product at the end of the first phase that would cover all the core features of an eCommerce platform. MAQE would then add enhancements over time to support different specific aspects of Com7’s business.
Making these enhancements on a large scale eCommerce site had some challenges. While working on the project, BNN conducted several campaigns for PS5 pre-orders. The PS5 remains, at the time of writing, one of the most sought after consumer electronics products on the planet. This was largely due to the worldwide component shortage that’s still affecting the consumer electronics product pipeline.
The scale of demand was unprecedented, which caused the team some issues. Thousands of concurrent users (over 3000 at one point) would visit the BNN site to try and make a pre-order, while the team was at the same time enhancing and improving the site. After some early hiccups the team learned from their mistakes and gathered information to help them improve the BNN site.
Working with a big brand such as Com7 requires a high level of collaboration. The MAQE team had to work with many different stakeholders across Com7. The marketing, content, analytics and operations teams all had different priorities. With different opinions on the value of certain features. The MAQE team decided to manage and prioritize all the improvements that were needed while collaborating with all stakeholders on the project. This approach led to great results and happy stakeholders, across the board.
A brand like BNN requires a lot of integration. BNN alone requires the support of over 10 parties to function correctly. Integrations such as payment, couriers as well as SMS and email promotions all had to be reliable. So the MAQE team, as part of the project to optimize back end functions, created middleware to handle stock inventory management between the BNN website stock, external marketplaces (Shopee, Lazada) and synchronize stock between their network of stores and the BNN website. After implementation, stock management between the website, marketplaces and stores were managed with greater accuracy and control.
Promotions and sales functionality is vital for any B2C eCommerce business. BNN needed help to create a tool to help manage their promotions. As part of the overall objective to optimize the back-end process, the MAQE team worked closely with BNN to list all the possible promotions scenarios. They then went to work on implementing a new workflow, with tools, to handle these promotions scenarios. This was combined with the other improvements to the back-office systems designed to eliminate manual processes.
Streamlined Processes, Delighted Users
We were delighted to be able to launch a brand new BNN website for Com7 without negatively impacting day-to-day operations. User feedback on the site was overwhelmingly positive, with many users stating that they were impressed with the speed and user experience.
Traffic during large scale campaigns has also improved. The BNN site now regularly handles more than 3500 concurrent users with no interruptions. Com7 informed MAQE that customers can complete a purchase on the new platform within a minute. This is a big improvement on the previous site structure.
The administration process around promotion scenarios has also been streamlined and optimized. The new tools we created have helped the BNN team to create many more promotions within the last 4 months. In fact, the whole promotions process was streamlined and quicker.
We loved working with Com7 and we continue to work with them today. Collaborating on a project of this scale was a learning curve for us but our diligent team helped Com7 to present an improved omnichannel experience to thousands of users.