Even if you’ve never popped in for a quick can of coke or some sellotape, Poundland is one of the UK’s most recognisable high street shops. Now the budget retailer is looking to enter the world of e-commerce, and cloud computing is playing a pivotal role.
Paul McDermott, head of e-commerce at Poundland, says that he is already seeing customers behave in very different ways online to in-store, perhaps down to the low price point of products and an existing £4 flat delivery cost (purchases of £50 and up are exempt).
The e-commerce platform has subsequently introduced bulk case deals to its product portfolio and items that cost more than a pound, such as homewares and electronics.
McDermott explains: “Already we’ve seen that the ATV [average transactional value] is higher online.”
The difficulty for McDermott and his team is that he has no data to work with, so they are having to adapt on the fly. This is where having an e-commerce agency and a managed cloud solution from Rackspace comes in handy. As McDermott explains: “We wanted a really easy option, with as little hassle and internal management as possible.”
Poundland let its commerce agency Ampersand take the lead when it came to selecting Rackspace, McDermott says. Ampersand used the open source Magento e-commerce platform for enterprise to build the new transactional Poundland website.
McDermott realises that AWS and Microsoft Azure may be cheaper options but Ampersand pushed for Rackspace based on “their experiences of the hosting providers compared to the service Rackspace offered,” McDermott says, concluding that “primarily, it’s down to the relationship”.
Entering the online retail space for the first time in 2015 means the company is far behind in terms of customer data and insight. This meant that scalability was important for McDermott when selecting a cloud provider as, without previous transactional data, it would be difficult to predict traffic spikes. The key for Poundland at this stage will be to maintain a smooth user journey and develop trust in its online platform.
So far all McDermott has to work with is the launch day and Black Friday traffic spikes, which he says were “pretty big” before refusing to be drawn into details. However the infrastructure remained “quite reliable” with no outages, according to McDermott.
Poundland will host its e-commerce platform on dedicated servers within the Rackspace environment with high availability networking and a redundancy solution for its load balancers and firewall to ensure resiliency regardless of traffic. Poundland is also considering Rackspace’s own managed security product, according to a press release.
Rackspace's UK customers include an e-commerce hosting arrangement with wine merchant Oddbins, as well as contracts with pizza delivery firm Domino's, cinema chain Vue, and Transport for London.