ColourPop

Customized, high-volume ecommerce site

ColourPop, an up-and-coming cosmetics company with a cult-like following, engaged Crowd Favorite to scale their site in anticipation of record high Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.






Challenge

After a secret product launch crashed ColourPop’s ecommerce solution, the company had reservations about whether its site could be scaled to support the unprecedented traffic spikes expected on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Solution

After conducting strategic and thorough load testing, Crowd Favorite built and tweaked many pieces of site infrastructure allowing ColourPop.com to support a dizzying amount of activity—one sale every second at the height of Cyber Monday 2015. We ensured they wouldn’t fail as a result of having achieved so much success.

By the time Cyber Monday 2015 arrived, ColourPop was doing as many sales in one day as they had in one month in 2014.

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When ColourPop first engaged Crowd Favorite, they were experiencing explosive growth. The new brand of trendy, affordable cosmetics—sold strictly online—had quickly gained a cult-like following: roughly one million site visitors a day, steadily growing by about 20% every month. Despite the fact that business was booming, ColourPop was worried about their ecommerce solution, WooCommerce, keeping up.

When an unpublicized product launch brought about an unexpected traffic spike of more than 30x the usual load, their site crashed. The company was concerned: could their current WooCommerce solution be scaled to support the traffic spikes they were already seeing—let alone the record numbers they were anticipating on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Confident that the answer was “yes,” Crowd Favorite began strategizing with one goal in mind: to maximize, in every possible way, the performance of ColourPop’s existing site. We first set up a load test to simulate actual traffic patterns on the site. Several iterations of the test were written before arriving at a comprehensive version that accurately reflected all activity on the site. This test was run after each new optimization we implemented to measure how effectively the site responded, given our modifications.

To measure the stress of the site, we established a new metric: “add-to-carts per minute.” We landed on this metric by observing traffic patterns during high-volume promotions. The first sign of a server bottleneck was customers adding items to their cart. In this stage of the purchasing cycle, even a fraction-of-a-second delay would have a negative snowball effect on the site’s overall performance. (If a new cart state wasn’t reflected almost immediately after clicking "add to cart," the user would repeat their request and further increase server strain.)

Interestingly, the "add to cart" action itself wasn’t the actual cause of strain to the server—it was simply the best measure of visitor success, and we used it to drive our decision-making.

After scaling the site infrastructure significantly through our partnership with WP Engine, we worked to reduce the load on the server. To do this, we automatically logged out users not viewing any key account-based pages, such as the checkout page. We also built a custom plugin to compliment this functionality, which would recognize repeat visitors and auto-populate their checkout information. Together, these measures enhanced site performance, while maintaining a good user experience.

To combat a slow, cumbersome reporting interface, we custom-built a reporting system tailored specifically to ColourPop’s needs. This system streamlined the reporting process by scraping data nightly, then compiling reports detailing select, key metrics. This would save ColourPop the hassle of manually compiling custom reports, and eliminate the wait times needed to generate them.

So, how did the site ultimately perform? On Cyber Monday 2015, ColourPop closed more sales—both in volume and gross dollar amount—than they had in all of 2014 combined. They peaked at around 2,000 add-to-carts clicks per minute, closing 5-10 sales every second. And every bit of that success, thanks to Crowd Favorite, was supported by their site.