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Tuesday, 21 March 2017 16:39

DFS and Rackspace Collaborate to Introduce New eCommerce Infrastructure to Address Seasonal Traffic Spike

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UK’s leading upholsterer looks to the cloud to handle busy sales periods

Rackspace® today revealed that retail giant DFS handled a 34 per cent increase in transactions per day during its most recent busy sales periods, utilising a Rackspace managed cloud solution. By undertaking “peak planning”, DFS has managed spikes in website traffic around Christmas, and has been able to grow the business through new digital services.

DFS is the UK’s leading upholsterer, with more than 110 stores nationwide as well as additional outlets in Ireland, Holland and Spain. Specialising in sofas for the last 45 years, DFS strives to offer customers the biggest range of sofas in the UK, along with unbeatable quality and service. The company has experienced a huge increase in mobile and online shoppers, with the platforms especially popular amongst customers researching new purchases.

Undertaking a process of digital transformation, DFS has introduced in store functionality on staff tablets allowing them to show customers the products they are interested in on the video walls and screens, really bringing the product to life. The business experiences two peak shopping periods throughout the year, one being the ‘Guaranteed by Christmas’ ordering period in September, and the other around the Boxing Day sales that filters through to the New Year. Traffic to the website during these times spikes by 68 percent compared to average levels during the rest of the year.

During these periods, it is vital that the retailer’s IT infrastructure works effectively. According to research from Adobe®[1], online shoppers are rightly becoming more discerning and impatient, and will not stay loyal to an online retailer that doesn’t provide a seamless service. Employing a VMware® Managed Virtualisation offering, Rackspace worked with DFS to carry out peak period planning to help ensure the retailer is prepared to deal with traffic surges and help ensure online channels work effectively for customers. In addition, through a working relationship with ecommerce specialists Salmon who rebuilt DFS’s websites, Rackspace is able to provide DFS with the reassurance that it has some of the top technology minds supporting its business.

Russell Harte, Group Technology Director at DFS says: “The online channel has never been more important to our business, where customer expectations surrounding service are rightly very high. Our relationship with Rackspace over the past five years has allowed us to continually grow our offering by taking advantage of cloud technologies. Being able to talk to people who have the right mix of technical knowledge and business insight makes our lives so much easier. With a small ecommerce team and a big agenda at DFS, Rackspace knows exactly what is needed.”

The Rackspace team has also supported DFS on wider IT transformation across its business. One year ago, the team started working on a migration project towards a new ecommerce platform – IBM V8 WebSphere Commerce infrastructure – in the cloud. Signed off in February 2016, it went live in September 2016, making DFS.co.uk one of the first e-commerce sites with this status. This allowed DFS to utilise its existing environment to generate an even better performance. In addition, a change in business intelligence tools, based on the success of website hosting has helped with growth, processing large amounts of data.

Harte remarks: “If you had told me a year ago that we would be able to roll out this new infrastructure in such a short space of time, I would have been really amazed. The insight offered by Rackspace makes this easy to manage, allowing us to focus on key business objectives rather than IT maintenance”.

Darren Norfolk, managing director of Rackspace UK said: “Cloud technology is transforming the retail industry, allowing brands to move beyond just physical stores to offering customers a whole host of online shopping choices. Over the past five years we’ve worked closely with DFS as it strengthened its position as a market leader. Combining our extensive cloud expertise and their ambition, we’ve been able to support them in becoming industry pioneers in their use of technology. We look forward to continuing our work with them on the next stage of innovation.”

Rackspace supports DFS with VMware Managed Virtualisation, dedicated infrastructure.

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