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Miinto: Helping an ecommerce trendsetter that supports local boutiques to grow globally

About Miinto

Founded in 2009, Miinto is a fashion marketplace that connects shoppers with independent retailers. It currently operates in 13 countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the UK. It's now one of Europe's largest fashion ecommerce platforms with more than 5,000 brands on offer and is rapidly expanding into new markets.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Denmark

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To support its rapid expansion into new markets, Miinto switched to Google Cloud, enabling it to provision resources faster and welcome new retail partners to the platform by scaling to meet demand.

Google Cloud results

  • Easily scales to meet annual traffic peaks of up to x20, as well as unexpected spikes in demand
  • Enables a cloud-native infrastructure that can handle both open source and Windows workloads
  • Improves the customer experience by delivering quicker response times for key services
  • Helps Miinto to welcome new retailers and expand into new markets, with rapid resource provisioning

From three days to 15 mins to provision a new environment

In a physical retail environment that's increasingly competitive, the potential benefits of a digital presence for small independent retailers are clear, from additional income to wider reach. But it can also be hard to stand out alongside established big names. The mission of fashion platform Miinto is to help independent retailers do that, and make selling online fast, easy, and cost-effective. By bringing together inventory from individual boutiques into a unified, powerful platform, Miinto not only reconnects online shoppers to local shops, it also contributes to a more responsible industry model that doesn't hold stock in large warehouses.

As for shoppers, they are able to browse over 5,000 brands from hundreds of independent boutiques in one place. "Our unique and broad assortment allows us to cater to the needs of the consumers," explains Marek Brach, CTO at Miinto. "Thanks to the company’s global presence and by leveraging top-tier proprietary technology we support our partners and let them reach millions of users all around Europe." On the retailer side, Miinto provides a personalized service that helps stores to maximize value, delivering data-driven insights so retailers can continually adjust their offering according to customer demand. It also only takes a commission on the sales that it actually creates for its partner stores.

"At Miinto, we like to custom build as much as possible so our infrastructure matches our needs exactly. Google Cloud gives you the choice to use out-of-the-box solutions, or adapt and parameter tools to your requirements, and that's what we've been able to do."

Marek Brach, CTO, Miinto

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was responsible for a sudden rise in demand from both retailers and shoppers, as physical boutiques were forced to close their doors. But even before 2020, Miinto was pursuing a strategy of rapid growth, expanding from four to seven markets in the three years up to 2020. However, its previous private cloud infrastructure didn't offer the flexibility it needed to scale in the medium- and long-term, or to respond rapidly to new marketing opportunities and unexpected peaks in traffic.

The solution was to move its key services infrastructure into the cloud, and Google Cloud was the best fit for its needs. “At Miinto, we like to custom build as much as possible so our infrastructure matches our needs exactly,” says Brach. “Google Cloud gives you the choice to use out-of-the-box solutions or adapt and parameter tools to your requirements, and that's what we've been able to do."

Choosing the right cloud partner to attract the best talent

While Miinto is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, its tech team is headed by Brach and Piotr Marczyszyn, Miinto's Director of Engineering, who are based in its Warsaw office in Poland. Previously, Miinto's infrastructure used a combination of virtualized and bare-metal servers hosted by a local Danish provider, but the setup didn't provide the stability and scalability Miinto needed to support its growth. It also wanted to be able to react dynamically to peaks such as Black Friday. "With our previous provider, beyond a certain threshold it became very difficult to scale, taking weeks to provision the necessary additional resources," says Marczyszyn.

Another one of Miinto's key reasons for choosing Google Cloud is to support a strong focus on innovation within the technical team. "Because we like to custom build, we're always looking to recruit people with the right mindset, who want to put time and effort into building the best solutions," explains Marczyszyn. "Working with a partner like Google Cloud helps us to attract talented engineers."

Finally, Miinto needed a cloud provider that could support the multiple technologies and solutions that form part of its ecosystem, from open source software to Windows workloads. "We realized that migrating to Google Cloud would help us switch to a fully virtualized infrastructure while continuing to work with our current ecosystem and simplifying our licensing needs," he adds. "In the end, that's one of the main reasons why we chose Google Cloud."

Marczyszyn and a team of four Miinto engineers planned to complete the migration within 90 days, but they were able to make the switch in 40. "If you understand the principles of infrastructure, building on Google Cloud is intuitive and straightforward," says Marczyszyn.

"With Compute Engine, we're able to quickly access the resources we need to meet expected peaks such as Black Friday, when traffic can be 10 or 20 times higher, as well as making the most of unexpected opportunities that previously we wouldn't have been able to provision the resources for."

Piotr Marczyszyn, Director of Engineering, Miinto

Managing annual peaks and unexpected traffic with easy scaling

With more than a thousand partner retailers supplying more than 1.5 million products on the platform, Miinto handles large volumes of complex data that needs to be processed in close to real time. For example, it needs to cross-reference products from multiple retailers who may be supplying the same product at different prices.

It now runs 65 services on Compute Engine virtual machines, and it uses Terraform to build infrastructure and Ansible to provision configurations and deployments. It can scale up when necessary to meet traffic peaks and scale back down quickly when demand subsides. For example, when Miinto needed to resize every image on its site, it was able to access an additional 300 CPUs on Compute Engine almost immediately. It would have taken two weeks to provision the necessary additional resources with its previous provider.

"With Compute Engine, we're able to quickly access the resources we need to meet expected peaks such as Black Friday, when traffic can be 10 or 20 times higher, as well as making the most of unexpected opportunities that previously we wouldn't have been able to provision the resources for," says Marczyszyn.

Miinto also has full granular control over its networking layer, using Virtual Private Cloud to manage its subnetwork projects from within a unified private network, alongside other networking tools such as Cloud NAT. It uses Filestore for rapid access storage, and Cloud Storage for cold storage, such as storing back-ups of previous application versions. Finally, for some services it uses App Engine for fully managed serverless environments.

"Google Cloud offers great resource-scaling capabilities, but we also have a very good partnership with the Google Cloud engineering and support teams," says Marczyszyn. "The fact that there's a data center in Warsaw is a big plus, too."

"It's faster and easier to expand into new markets now Miinto is on Google Cloud. That's really useful for our retail partners, because expanding into new markets extends their reach, and shoppers are really hungry for the products, so it's a win-win."

Marek Brach, CTO, Miinto

Expanding Miinto's reach, a win-win for retailers and shoppers

Migrating to Google Cloud has been beneficial to both Miinto's customers and its internal teams. After making the switch, Miinto saw an immediate improvement in the performance of its application infrastructure when running VMs with comparable resources. Latency has been reduced by approximately 20%, with a 70% increase in the capacity for serving requests per second. It's also made it easier to set up new environments for new team projects, which happens several times a week. It used to take three days, and now takes 15 minutes.

Because it's now able to easily scale its resources, taking on new partners is straightforward. When lockdown restrictions caused physical shops to close their doors across Europe in early 2020, Miinto was able to welcome hundreds of new retailers to the platform, providing them with a source of income during the pandemic. "Small stores were particularly badly hit by enforced closures, so we had an influx of new partners," says Brach. "Thankfully, we were ready to meet that demand."

Miinto is now looking at leveraging machine learning using Vertex AI. "There are so many ways we can use AI to improve our services," says Brach. "For example, we will be able to automatically identify images and offer customers personalized recommendations." It's also interested in starting to use Preemptible VMs to help reduce its per-server costs, as well as implementing a new data pipeline using BigQuery.

Miinto was able to expand from seven markets to 13 markets in just three months since moving to Google Cloud, and it's now planning to open up in more countries. "It's faster and easier to expand into new markets now that Miinto is on Google Cloud," says Brach. "That's really useful for our retail partners, because expanding into new markets extends their reach, and shoppers are really hungry for the products, so it's a win-win."

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Miinto

Founded in 2009, Miinto is a fashion marketplace that connects shoppers with independent retailers. It currently operates in 13 countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the UK. It's now one of Europe's largest fashion ecommerce platforms with more than 5,000 brands on offer and is rapidly expanding into new markets.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: Denmark