Gorgias: Helping ecommerce retailers automate customer support

About Gorgias

Gorgias offers a customer support helpdesk solution specifically designed for Shopify retailers. Its Software as a Service (SaaS) helpdesk provides live chat, social media channel integration, and rule-based autoresponders. Founded in 2016, the company is based in San Francisco and has more than 350 merchants using its helpdesk software.

Industries: Technology, Retail
Location: United States

Gorgias reduced its cloud infrastructure costs, supported growth, and streamlined operations by using Google Cloud Platform and Google Kubernetes Engine.

Google Cloud Results

  • Supports anticipated 10x growth in data volume and customers
  • Streamlines operations with unified production environment
  • Simplifies programming in Python

Reduces monthly cloud infrastructure costs by 5x or more

Gorgias develops software designed to help Shopify retailers be at least twice as efficient in providing customer support. That’s no small job, as consumers engage with brands today across multiple channels, including online chat and social media. The need to provide satisfying customer support regardless of channel is critical. A McKinsey study affirms this, noting that 70% of the buying experience is influenced by how customers feel about the way brands treat them.

But many retailers—especially smaller ecommerce companies with limited resources—often struggle to provide the support customers need. In addition, many of the tasks involved in helping customers can be repetitive and time consuming.

For these and other reasons, the need for the Gorgias Software as a Service (SaaS) solution became clear to its co-founders Alex Plugaru and Romain Lapeyre after they released the company’s first product in 2015, a free Google Chrome extension.

In a previous job as a web developer, Alex helped out with customer support on the side. He wanted to learn more about how customers felt about the company’s products. And he felt there was a need for software to help support representatives to more easily communicate with customers. The Gorgias Google Chrome extension started as a way to provide templates for individuals, sales teams, and customer support reps to automate responses in Gmail and other communications platforms.

Alex and Romain soon noticed that the Google Chrome extension was indeed popular with customer support reps. Consequently, they expanded the Gorgias extension into a full-featured SaaS product. The solution integrates with Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, phone support apps, SMS, Shopify, Recharge, and other platforms to unify customer support channels in one platform. Gorgias also uses its own implementation of machine learning models that enable it to develop rules-based automated responses for customer support and sales.

“Google Cloud Platform is extremely competitive in pricing. The total amount we spend every month for Google Cloud Platform is more than 5x less than what we spent just on our cloud provider’s relational database service.”

Alex Plugaru, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Gorgias

Gorgias leverages Google Cloud Platform to support its SaaS helpdesk solution for Shopify retailers. Separately, Shopify recently chose Google Cloud Platform to help host its online stores. Gorgias switched to Google Cloud Platform to reduce its monthly IT infrastructure costs, streamline operations with the unified production environment that Google Kubernetes Engine provides, and take advantage of the platform’s multi-layered security.

Initially, Gorgias ran its Google Chrome extension software off a single data center server managed by another provider. As Gorgias matured from a Google Chrome extension to a SaaS solution, however, it became clear that it required a more cost-effective, flexible IT infrastructure in the cloud. “We’re expecting a 10x growth in terms of data volume as well as customers in the near future, so we needed an infrastructure that could grow with us,” says Alex, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder at Gorgias.

More than 5x savings

Gorgias moved to a cloud infrastructure service, but soon after found that the service’s data storage usage costs were expensive. “We were doing machine learning tasks, and we were training models a lot,” says Alex. “Because we were putting a heavy input/output strain on our storage, it was expensive. We could have done some optimization to minimize the input/output load, but that wasn’t the best use of our time.”

In 2016, Gorgias migrated to Google Cloud Platform. “Google Cloud Platform is extremely competitive in pricing,” says Alex. “The total amount we spend every month for Google Cloud Platform is more than 5x less than what we spent just on our cloud provider’s relational database service.”

Easier programming

Gorgias uses the open source Python programming language for software development, web programming, and other back-end tasks. With its former cloud provider, Gorgias had to use a third-party interface to access the Python library and tools. The cloud provider and the third-party interface used different API versions, which made working in Python difficult.

“Programming is so much easier than it was with our previous cloud provider,” says Alex. “With Google Cloud Platform, we now have access to a single Python library that our cloud provider supports, the documentation is extensive, and we don’t have to deal with different sets of APIs.”

“Google Cloud Platform doesn’t lock us into a proprietary technology, which is important, given that technology is a key part of our infrastructure. Google has deep Kubernetes expertise, and the fact that Kubernetes is integrated into Google Cloud Platform made switching to the platform a no-brainer.”

Alex Plugaru, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Gorgias

How Kubernetes should work

The open source Kubernetes system makes it easier to deploy, scale, and manage containerized applications. Gorgias saw an immediate difference using Kubernetes on Google Kubernetes Engine compared to using the proprietary version of container orchestration offered by its previous cloud provider.

“Google Cloud Platform doesn’t lock us into a proprietary technology, which is important, given that technology is a key part of our infrastructure,” says Alex. “Google has deep Kubernetes expertise and the fact that Kubernetes is integrated into Google Cloud Platform made switching to the platform a no-brainer.”

He adds that compared to the previous cloud provider’s container orchestration, Google Kubernetes Engine has more features, is more mature, and has a community of core developers from Google and other technology companies. “We really benefit from the new features and bug fixes that other developers have tested in their production environments,” Alex says.

Gorgias manages Google Compute Engine virtual machine instances through Google Kubernetes Engine in one cluster for production. Similarly, the team uses a few Google Compute Engine virtual machines in a separate cluster as a staging and testing environment.

“We run basically everything, including our databases and web services, in one big Kubernetes cluster. We don’t use virtual machines directly,” says Alex. “Google Kubernetes Engine gives us a single unified environment for deployment and production, which helps us move faster.”

Multi-layered security

The multi-layered infrastructure security built into Google Cloud Platform gives the Gorgias team, as well as the company’s customers, confidence that their data is well protected—which is especially important in maintaining consumers’ confidence in the ecommerce sites where they shop. “Our customers ask us about how we store and protect their data,” says Alex. “When we explain to them how Google uses multiple layers of encryption and other security measures to protect customer data at rest, it puts their minds at ease.”

“Google Cloud Platform frees us up from a lot of DevOps work, so we can focus on developing our product instead of our infrastructure. We really don’t have to deal much with the cloud and that is exactly what you want from a cloud provider.”

Alex Plugaru, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Gorgias

Not having to deal with the cloud

Google Cloud Platform has large communities on Slack and Stack Overflow that make it easy to get quick answers to questions or advice. “The strong community support is a major advantage in using Google Cloud Platform,” says Alex. “Because there’s such a large and active community, I can get answers to questions right away, which saves me time.”

Most importantly, Gorgias receives valuable technical support—and strategic advice—from Google. “Google engineers walked us through the initial Google Cloud Platform setup,” says Alex. “They worked directly with us, answering all our questions along the way. And they continue to give us great guidance, pointing out future projects and features that could be helpful to us.” For example, Alex says he learned about the Spinnaker continuous delivery platform and Helm Kubernetes package manager, both open source, from his Google customer engineer.

The single unified environment that Google Kubernetes Engine provides, plus the support Gorgias receives from Google, remove a lot of operational burdens from the team. “Google Cloud Platform frees us up from a lot of DevOps work, which allows us to focus on developing our product instead of our infrastructure,” he says. “We don’t have to deal with the cloud that much, which is exactly what you want from a cloud provider.”

About Gorgias

Gorgias offers a customer support helpdesk solution specifically designed for Shopify retailers. Its Software as a Service (SaaS) helpdesk provides live chat, social media channel integration, and rule-based autoresponders. Founded in 2016, the company is based in San Francisco and has more than 350 merchants using its helpdesk software.

Industries: Technology, Retail
Location: United States
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Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

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