For more than 50 years, David’s Bridal has served more brides-to-be than any other bridal retailer in the United States. With the largest selection of bridal gowns, bridal party, special occasion dresses and accessories available online and at over 330 stores, David’s Bridal has established itself as the nation’s most trusted and leading bridal authority. The largely dynamic site averages as many as 600,000 page views and 220,000 unique visitors per day during peak times. The online store not only gives shoppers the opportunity to shop anytime, anywhere they want, but also allows them to pre-shop on products prior to visiting the stores.
With a commitment to delivering a stellar multi-channel shopping experience, David’s Bridal is continually enhancing its Web site. When the company went live with new online features at the beginning of 2009, it forecasted needing four times more capacity than it had anticipated to support the highly dynamic site – even with a local caching tier. “We wanted to offload much of the intensive site processing from our application servers while boosting site performance,” explains Jerry Baklycki, manager of ecommerce development for David’s Bridal.
David’s Bridal needed to meet two key requirements to support the company’s objectives:
Once David’s Bridal saw that it needed to deploy more hardware than originally planned, it ran numbers to project its costs for hardware three years out. Upon seeing the level of required investment, it evaluated content delivery networks and chose the Akamai Dynamic Site Accelerator solution. “No other solution provider offered the level of sophistication we needed. Akamai not only caches dynamic content on the edge, it makes it possible to apply different cache rules on a single page,” says Stan Payson, vice president of Interactive Technology for David’s Bridal. Payson and Baklycki were able to demonstrate to the company’s CIO Caryn Furtaw both the hard dollar and customer web experience benefits of the solution, who in turn championed the initiative with senior management. “David’s Bridal’s mission is to provide the bride with the best possible experience, and Akamai provided us a solution that not only improved her online shopping experience but also reduced our infrastructure costs” explains Caryn.
From the outset, David’s Bridal was intent on caching as much dynamic content as possible so it could defer future investments in hardware. After deploying the Akamai web performance solution, it reduced its web application servers by 40%, its web server utilization by 90%, CPU utilization by 70%, and its bandwidth requirements by 98% – all while supporting double the traffic during peak periods. “We were stunned by the results, especially considering the image-heavy and dynamic nature of our site,” says Payson. “The Akamai engineering team played a critical role in helping us configure our site to offload the majority of our dynamic content. Now we can dedicate our application servers to processes that aren’t easily cached,” continues Baklycki.
With Akamai serving the company’s dynamic content from thousands of geographically distributed CDN servers, website performance has improved significantly. Now that site visitors can tap into all the new site features – including enhanced search and a rapidly expanding online product assortment – David’s Bridal is confident that the improvement has contributed to higher online sales. Plus, it can now focus on its core business and enhancing its site instead of worrying about website performance. “Not only did we increase site performance, we can now absorb unplanned and unanticipated traffic spikes without expanding our infrastructure. It’s as if we gained an elastic architecture,” explains Payson.
Now David’s Bridal is free to focus on creative options and enhanced functionality on its site. “With Akamai as a partner, we’ve changed our technical approach. Because we can incorporate Akamai capabilities into the design of our site, we no longer feel limited by IT or our infrastructure,” says Baklycki. With a scalable foundation in place, David’s Bridal is well positioned for future growth. “We’re anticipating adding more rich media and attracting more site traffic. And we’re confident about handling all of this because Akamai provides us a platform for the future,” concludes Payson.
With more than 50 years of experience dressing women of all ages for life’s special occasions, David’s Bridal understands the importance of providing brides-to-be with a vast selection of exquisitely crafted bridal gowns and bridal party dresses. Known for outstanding value, fashionable designs and the ease of one-stop shopping, nearly 50% of all brides in the US choose to shop at one of David’s over 300 stores located across the US and in Puerto Rico. Working with a knowledgeable bridal consultant, a customer can enjoy trying on a wide selection of gowns and dresses in her size with the added convenience that most styles are available to take home the same day. To learn more about David’s Bridal, visit www.davidsbridal.com.