Mr Price Group is a rapidly growing apparel and home goods retailer with nearly 1,000 stores in South Africa. Mr Price’s brands include Mr Price Apparel, Mr Price Home, Mr Price Sport, Sheet Street, and Milady’s. While the retailer’s brick-and-mortar business continues to grow through opening new stores and entering new markets in Africa, the company saw a great opportunity for further expansion via the eCommerce channel.
In 2012 Mr Price decided to leverage the ATG/Oracle Commerce platform and Spark::red’s Oracle Commerce Hosting Solution to bring its brands online. Mr Price’s main goal was to ensure an excellent online shopping experience for its customers in order to maintain the reputation that the company built over the past three decades.
While the number of online shoppers continues to grow (58% of South Africans shop online according to the MasterCard Worldwide Online Shopping Survey) and the eCommerce market reached R4.4B in 2013 according to World Wide Worx, the lack of reliable infrastructure and service providers makes it hard for retailers to enter eCommerce market in South Africa.
Ensuring payment data security is another big challenge for retailers in South Africa. According to the 2014 South African eCommerce Report, 36.76% of shoppers still don’t feel safe sharing their credit card information online.
Moreover, being new to the platform, Mr Price needed expert support to maximize the ROI from ATG/Oracle Commerce platform.
Mr Price watched multiple competitors trying to enter the e-commerce market in South Africa and struggle as a result of poor website performance. In order to avoid a similar situation, Mr Price needed to make sure that the chosen managed hosting provider could deliver a fully functioning environment in time as well as maintain its performance in the future.
“Online apparel retailing in South Africa has had a number of false starts from some of our competitors and we needed to ensure that from the platform and hosting perspective, we were in good hands.”
– Dave Pike, eCommerce Solutions Architect at Mr Price
In order to meet Mr Price’s needs Spark::red has provided the following services:
- Oracle Commerce Hosting Solution
- Scalability Services
- Load Testing
- CloudFlare CDN
- Application specific environment tuning
- Documented recommendations for application improvements
A fully-redundant Tier 3+ data center was provided as a part of the Spark::red Oracle Commerce Hosting Solution.
Hosting environments for the websites were delivered according to schedule and provided the required website performance. For instance, an average application response time for mrp.co.za was just over 200ms while website traffic grew by 244% (based on the comparison of traffic numbers for July-December 2012 and 2013).
“We are all extremely pleased with the service and support from Spark::red. The experience that Spark::red has added to the process has been a crucial key to the success of the launch of the site and continuing development of the site… and the processes that have been put in place have allowed our development and support teams to concentrate on evolving the site, rather than ensuring that it is operational. There is absolutely no doubt that we could not have chosen a better hosting partner.”
– Dave Pike, E-Commerce Solutions Architect at Mr Price
With Spark::red’s support Mr Price was able to focus on growing its online business instead of troubleshooting the website. The company reported that online sales nearly tripled in 2013.