CUSTOMER PROFILE:

This year we have seen a significant increase in repeat customers. Our overall visits are up by 15% and revenue is up by 12%, Instart Logic has been a key part of that story. They have built a unique technology platform for acceleration of application delivery on the web for mobile and image-heavy pages that is an unfair advantage for their customers.

Greg Tatem
VP of Engineering, Wine.com

The Challenge

Wine.com was in the midst of a major overhaul of its website to better engage customers. Long a provider of rich information for serious wine consumers, the Wine.com team sought to increase the use of crisp, detailed imagery to pull in buyers more effectively than greeting them with large blocks of text. “Wine is a lifestyle. We want to promote that lifestyle,” explains Greg Tatem, Vice President of Engineering at Wine.com. “There is so much to share about drinking with friends, the Napa Valley, and images are really critical in telling that story.”

Tatem further explains that most customers do buy wine by the label and based on what the bottle looks like. “It might even be the #1 factor in the decision-making process. So it’s incredibly important that those images come across to buyers quickly and look visually appealing. One second can make a big difference in whether a customer will buy or be satisfied,” says Tatem. “Poorly rendered or cheap-looking images are just as damaging - they drive users away. That adds up to millions in lost revenue.”

Because Wine.com’s mobile traffic already accounted for 30% of total visitors and was growing by 30% per year, image delivery to mobile devices was a top priority for Tatem. The company was using an older m.dot technology but wanted to move to a Responsive Web Design (RWD) site with images and web assets that would automatically scale up or down to fit any screen display size on any device.

While Wine.com’s CDN provider, Akamai Technologies, delivered adequate web performance, Tatem wanted to improve overall web presence without having to pay an arm and a leg to get it. He also wanted a web performance solutions provider that didn’t view Wine.com as just another customer, and instead collaborated with Tatem and his team as a partner to proactively improve performance and map in newer technologies. “A real issue with Akamai was that they showed no interest in Wine.com as anything more than a paying customer” says Tatem.

In summary, Wine.com wanted:

  • Faster image delivery for denser, higher quality images to drive engagement
  • A web solution that improved web performance on mobile devices, and could handle RWD without losing image quality
  • A web performance partner that delivered better performance for the money and collaborated closely with the Wine.com team

The Solution

“We were looking for smart and nimble startups with good leadership and a promising future. Of all the companies we researched, we liked Instart Logic’s technology and engineering approach,” says Tatem. In particular, Wine.com was attracted to Instart Logic’s unique image optimization feature, ImageStreaming, which streams in images quickly rather than first load a small one then replace with a larger one.

Wine.com also saw s powerful performance booster in Instart Logic’s unique SmartVision feature. SmartVision automatically categorizes images and tells servers the precise resolution required to make a good impression on the end user, saving 30% to 50% of image data pushed into the device for first image render. Instart Logic’s software-defined application delivery (SDAD) approach would allow them to leverage code in the end-user’s browser to build custom features and gain fine-grained control over the entire digital delivery experience in a way not possible with any other web performance provider. In Tatem’s opinion, Instart Logic clearly offered the superior performance.

The Result

After the live trial proved successful, Wine.com quickly pushed ahead for the switch to Instart Logic. The company worked closely with Instart Logic’s engineering team to ensure that the full deployment went smoothly. “We were taking a different approach to PCI compliance that many companies do,” says Tatem. “Instart Logic’s engineering team really paid attention to what needed to happen to fulfill our PCI needs and make sure that Wine.com was up and running on schedule with everything done properly.”

Over subsequent months, Wine.com experienced impressive growth in sales and user engagement. “This year we have seen a significant increase in repeat customers. Our overall visits are up by 15% and revenue is up by 12%,” says Tatem. “A lot of the credit for these numbers goes to Instart Logic.”

Wine.com’s mobile performance improved noticeably as well, setting the stage for the next phase of web development by Tatem’s team. “As we move to the mobile piece and a true Responsive Web Design, our images need to appear to be perfect and entincing on each device,” says Tatem. “Instart’s ability to serve up those images for the right device at the right time, and with less data while delivering a higher quality and noticeably more beautiful digital experience delivery, will be a fantastic advantage. We can’t wait to start using their software-defined capabilities to write custom code that will even further improve Wine.com’s performance.”

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