Beyond the Rack

Beyond the Rack continues aggressive growth while containing costs and protecting their site using the Akamai Intelligent Platform

“Akamai allows us to keep our costs flat while providing a better shopping experience, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a greater number of sales.”

Ted Guglielmi , Chief Technology Officer , Beyond the Rack

The Situation

Beyond the Rack, North America’s premier online shopping club, offers its members the most sought-after designer brand apparel, accessories, beauty, consumer electronics and home decor products at prices up to 70% off retail. Ranked by Internet Retailer as North America’s fastest-growing e-tailer in 2011, Beyond the Rack sells its products via limited-time, limited- quantity sales events. In just three years, the company has attracted over 6 million consumer members and over 3,000 brand partners to its online flash-sale marketplace.

The Challenge

Every day, Beyond the Rack sends an email notification to its members about the newest, most exclusive sale events. The vast majority of flash sales start at 11 am ET and, due to limited availability and high demand for the exclusive offerings, the company typically processes the most sales within the first hour or two. According to Ted Guglielmi, CTO of Beyond the Rack, the site fields about 25% of total traffic for the day during this two-hour window. The ability to tap into on-demand scalability, as well as the need to address website performance, web security and costs as it anticipated further aggressive growth was top of mind.

The Goal

Beyond the Rack needed to meet three key requirements to support its objectives:

  • Safeguard site and customer data: With a growing public profile, the company felt pressed to take measures to secure its site and customer information from malicious attacks.
  • Deliver scale while still maintaining higher levels of web performance: Beyond the Rack wanted to deliver its rapidly changing site content and images from servers as close as possible to shoppers even during the highest peak periods.
  • Contain costs: As a start-up, the company seeks to keep costs low whenever possible, and saw opportunities to do so by efficiently delivering site content.

Why Akamai

Choosing the Market Leader

To address its range of needs, Beyond the Rack evaluated a few outsourced services but decided the Akamai Dynamic Site Accelerator (DSA) and Web Application Firewall (WAF) solutions were the best choice. Guglielmi chose Akamai for two key reasons: first because Akamai is the market leader Guglielmi could easily find an engineer to configure the services, and second, Akamai’s network reach and scale is unmatched.

Proactively Mitigating Risks

As its name recognition grows, Beyond the Rack sees growing amounts of Internet traffic from countries outside of North America, including those sometimes associated with attack traffic. While the company deploys its own firewalls, it chose to further secure its site and customer data using Akamai WAF. Akamai WAF stops malicious traffic close to the source, protecting origin servers. Plus, it automatically scales on demand to handle massive attacks.

“With Akamai Web Application Firewall, we gain added protection against denial- of-service attacks and can filter out bad traffic without impacting the performance of our site. And because the costs associated with downtime are significant and immediate, being proactive about mitigating downtime helps us avoid lost revenues,” explains Guglielmi.

Satisfying Shopper Expectations

With 50% of Beyond the Rack’s catalog changing every day, the company needed a web performance solution that ensured product availability and rapidly changing content would be delivered to site visitors quickly. While it found their network performed fairly well, it recognized the opportunity to optimize performance by getting closer to site visitors. Since implementing Akamai DSA, Beyond the Rack has experienced a roughly 20% improvement in site load and page render times during peak periods.

Keeping Costs Low

As a venture-backed discounter, Beyond the Rack seeks ways to keep costs in check, otherwise it would have to charge its members higher prices. With Akamai, the company has reduced its bandwidth costs while improving overall website performance and dramatically growing its business. “Akamai allows us to keep our costs flat while providing a better shopping experience, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a greater number of sales. It gives us the ability to grow knowing what our cost will be.” explains Guglielmi. To date, Beyond the Rack has managed to grow its business even while raising less money than its competitors by running lean. According to Guglielmi, because Akamai helps it keep costs low, Beyond the Rack is able to invest in marketing initiatives that spur growth.

Pursuing Future Growth

In addition to realizing a range of benefits by using Akamai cloud services, Beyond the Rack is anticipating taking advantage of additional Akamai services and features, such as the ability to prioritize high- value customers during peak traffic. “Akamai gives us the support and flexibility we need to pursue further growth,” concludes Guglielmi.

About Beyond the Rack

Beyond the Rack is North America’s premier members-only shopping club offering members the most sought after designer brand apparel, accessories, beauty, and home and decor products at up to 70% off retail prices. Beyond the Rack sells its products in the context of a two-day, first come-first served events. Members can expect up to ten new brand events each day, starting at 11AM EST. Privately held, with offices in New York and Montreal, Beyond the Rack currently has a staff of 180 full-time employees and 2 million North American members.