Targeting Faster fashion at NET-A-PORTER
By David Mark Clements

NET-A-PORTER is a pioneer in the e-commerce space. Since it launched in June 2000, it has established itself as one of the UK’s top online fashion brands. It attracts six million visitors to its portal each month, delivering a seamless shopping experience to them via mobile, tablet and desktop. Visitors access NET-A-PORTER through an interactive website, a social shopping app and various online magazines, which help boost its audience. MR PORTER is a partner website that is dedicated to men’s fashion.

The brief

NET-A-PORTER’s three software development teams were already using Node.js as their technology platform. One of the teams had previously availed of nearForm’s tailored training for software developers. Now, the teams wanted to expand their knowledge with follow-up training and consulting. The goal was to show the team how to optimize the performance of their existing system and to help them maximize their use of their tools and processes.

The technology

Node.js is an open source cross-platform runtime environment for server-side and networking applications. nearForm was an early adopter of Node.js. Its team features some of the world’s foremost thought leaders in Node.js. The company runs NodeConf EU, Europe’s only dedicated annual Node.js conference.

The challenges

Although NET-A-PORTER’s development teams already used Node.js, part of their software system required extensive reworking. The challenge was help the teams maximize their use of the existing system and achieve a dramatic improvement in the system’s performance. This would ultimately add value for the client. nearForm aimed to deliver a multi-track training program for three different development teams, as well as consultancy services. The training program needed to be balanced, so it could meet the needs of the different teams without compromising on quality and consistency.

The solution

nearForm devised a short, high-impact consultancy program that was highly targeted in order to address the client’s specific issues. nearForm’s consultants created six parallel tracks in order to subdivide the tasks. This enabled them to identify performance bottlenecks and address them more effectively. During this initial phase, the training was exploratory in nature. nearForm’s consultants followed this with two days of hands-on consultancy, with a focus on code reviews and profiling. Throughout the project, nearForm’s approach was analytical and benchmark-based.

The results

All three teams significantly improved their performance. One team achieved a tenfold increase and another team is on track to do the same. The third team was able to achieve a twofold increase on a previously optimized code base. All three teams have greatly improved their skills and confidence in using Node.js independently and have been empowered to build fast and effective Node.js systems.

The bottom line

The running costs of NET-A-PORTER’s software system have greatly decreased. The content is being delivered to customers faster, leading to greater customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and sales revenue.

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