Kronoshop: Breaking new ground without breaking the bank

About Kronoshop

Italian retailer Kronoshop specializes in the online sale of watches and jewelry. The Kronoshop platform offers more than 15,000 items and receives 2 million visits a year.

Industries: Retail
Location: Italy

About ICOA

ICOA is an ICT consultancy specializing in digital transformation. A longtime Google Partner based in Rome, ICOA caters to select customers in Italy and abroad.

Thanks to the flexibility of Google Compute Engine and pay-as-you-go pricing, Italian online retail startup Kronoshop developed an innovative ecommerce platform that became a model for its industry.

Google Cloud Results

  • Develops innovative products fast with Google Compute Engine infrastructure on demand
  • Tracks the impact of new features in detail with Stackdriver
  • Limits financial exposure of experimentation with pay-as-you-go pricing

Creating three ecommerce platforms a week with Google Cloud Platform

By focusing on technological innovation, startup Kronoshop has grown fast in the Italian jewelry retail sector. Bringing together more than 15,000 jewelry items and watches from top brands on kronoshop.com, the company has set the standard for online retail in its industry with a website that receives up to 2 million visits a year. As a result of Kronoshop’s success, it was acquired by the Morellato Group, which puts Kronoshop at the center of its online retail transformation and uses the ecommerce platform as a model for its brands. You can read more about the next stage of this story, with Morellato Group, here.

“A successful ecommerce platform does not have a single audience, but at the same time someone who buys a book is not necessarily interested in a watch. Cross-selling is about trial and error, which means successful ecommerce is built through experimentation. For it to work, you need a technical infrastructure that can support that.”

Valerio De Rubeis, co-founder and CMO, Kronoshop

An emphasis on experimentation is key to Kronoshop’s achievements, which meant that right from the start the company needed infrastructure that encouraged innovation without creating punishing hardware overheads.

“A successful ecommerce platform does not have a single audience, but at the same time someone who buys a book is not necessarily interested in a watch,” says Valerio De Rubeis, co-founder and CMO at Kronoshop. “Cross-selling is about trial and error, which means successful ecommerce is built through experimentation. For it to work, you need a technical infrastructure that can support it.”

Limiting exposure with pay-as-you-go pricing

Startups face infrastructure challenges on several fronts. The DevOps demand behind developing new products and platforms requires attention, both in terms of resource management and upfront investment. Then when the startup launches, the company may risk stunting growth with infrastructure that fails to meet the demands of break-out popularity. Kronoshop teamed up with the IT experts at Google Partner ICOA to engineer a cloud-based ecommerce platform that could meet the company’s need for flexibility and experimentation in a cost-effective way.

“We decided to build the entire ecommerce platform from scratch,” says Fabio Politi, Chief Software Engineer at ICOA. “By doing that, we could optimize and manage every single piece of the entire stack at every level. We tried several cloud infrastructure providers, but Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offered superior administration panels and excellent pricing. Choosing GCP meant we could focus on future development instead of server infrastructure and gave us the freedom to adapt.”

Kronoshop and ICOA created a stack of Google Compute Engine instances for a high-performance website that could load pages at speed. “Google Compute Engine instances are optimized for building several layers of caching,” says Fabio. “We follow best practices from Google’s developer blogs to help ensure speed. In addition we use Puppeteer, a headless Chrome Engine that works like the browser but without the graphical interface to generate faster rendering.”

Because Kronoshop only pays for the instances it uses, the startup could limit its financial exposure throughout the early stages of its development. “Using GCP allowed us to try out different architectures without the enormous cost of physical infrastructure,” says Daniele Mazzucchi, COO at ICOA. “We can spin up instances in five minutes and shut them down when we no longer need them. We don’t need system operators to manage and secure the database server, either, as it’s fully managed by Google. In terms of storage system management, instead of moving hard disks from one server to another and creating physical backups, we could take advantage of huge storage potential at low cost, such as Coldline, which we use for disaster recovery.”

“The flexibility GCP provides on the backend means our frontend can be more creative and more complex, especially in terms of marketing. With Stackdriver, we can track everything, which is vital when we develop a feature and want to see how it affects the entire workflow.”

Fabio Politi, Chief Software Engineer, ICOA

Experimenting with infrastructure for fast innovation

Kronoshop could test many iterations of its concept, too, by switching infrastructure at speed. “We conducted an extensive study about the customer purchase journey, spending a lot of time working out how to find an optimal balance between the amount of information we could process and the speed of the system,” says Daniele. “We built and rebuilt the solution, experimenting at scale or with smaller setups, and we did it without having to worry about expensive infrastructure. That made the development process much, much faster.”

This experimental approach even included creating new prototype products and taking them live, as Valerio explains: “We made an ecommerce platform to cross-sell bags and perhaps uncover a new market. It was a new product that we created with low investment, to see if it worked. It didn't, but the impact of that failure was limited.” In another example, Kronoshop created a closed, private ecommerce platform for the employees of a bank. Thanks to the flexibility of GCP, as soon as the promotion came to an end, the platform was closed, incurring no further costs.

“The flexibility GCP provides on the backend means our frontend can be more creative and more complex, especially in terms of marketing.” says Fabio. “With Google Stackdriver, we can track everything, which is vital when we develop a feature and want to see how it affects the entire workflow.”

“Time to market is crucial for a business like Morellato Group, which works to tight schedules. With Google Compute Engine we can spin up instances and deploy complete ecommerce solutions at speed. We can publish three platforms in a week. Without GCP, that would be impossible.”

Daniele Mazzucchi, COO, ICOA

Creating and deploying ecommerce platforms at speed

The speed, usability and success of the Kronoshop platform won the attention of Morellato Group, one of Europe’s leading jewelry and watch retail companies, which acquired Kronoshop in 2017. Now the Kronoshop ecommerce platform code is being applied to other Morellato Group brands.

“Time to market is crucial for a business like Morellato Group, which works to tight schedules,” says Daniele. “With Google Compute Engine we can spin up instances and deploy complete ecommerce solutions at speed. We can publish three platforms in a week. Without GCP, that would be impossible.”

About Kronoshop

Italian retailer Kronoshop specializes in the online sale of watches and jewelry. The Kronoshop platform offers more than 15,000 items and receives 2 million visits a year.

Industries: Retail
Location: Italy

About ICOA

ICOA is an ICT consultancy specializing in digital transformation. A longtime Google Partner based in Rome, ICOA caters to select customers in Italy and abroad.

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