Volusion: Providing a better shopping experience

About Volusion

Volusion is a leading ecommerce software company based in Austin, Texas. Volusion’s ecommerce sites have processed over $29 billion in merchant sales worldwide.

Industries: Retail
Location: United States

By moving to Google Cloud Platform, Volusion is improving performance for its customers’ ecommerce websites, boosting conversion rates and increasing their ecommerce revenue.

Google Cloud Results

  • Improves customer first byte load times by 65% on average, increasing conversion rates and revenue
  • Enables more secure ecommerce services, giving customers peace of mind
  • Reduces data center costs by a projected 40% by year three

Migrated 30K storefronts to Google Cloud Platform

For small and medium size businesses (SMBs), ecommerce sales can often make the difference between just surviving and thriving. But few SMBs can afford to dedicate precious resources to the nuts and bolts of ecommerce. Instead, they want an all-in-one web storefront solution that’s easy to set up and maintain, with shopping cart software that processes transactions quickly—even during times of high customer activity.

Volusion specializes in solving these problems for its SMB customers, focusing on companies with less than $50 million in annual revenue. Its award-winning ecommerce software has been shown to sell more than other hosted shopping carts by keeping performance and reliability high. Over the years, shoppers have spent more than $28 billion and placed over 185 million orders on Volusion’s ecommerce websites.

“We determined that the cloud was the best option to achieve the next level of availability, performance, and scalability we wanted for our customers. Moving to Google Cloud Platform wasn’t just an infrastructure decision—it’s a fundamental shift in how we solve problems for our customers.”

Kevin Sproles, CEO, Volusion

As its business grew, Volusion looked to the cloud to improve experiences for employees and customers alike. It began by migrating its 250 employees from traditional office software to G Suite, quickly creating a culture of collaboration around cloud apps such as Google Sheets and Drive while empowering employees to communicate with video using Hangouts Meet. Eight months later, Volusion moved its 30,000 merchant sites from a co-located data center facility to Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to give customers a faster, more secure, and more flexible platform.

“Like many companies, we determined that the cloud was the best option to achieve the next level of availability, performance, and scalability we wanted for our customers,” says Kevin Sproles, CEO at Volusion. “Moving to GCP wasn’t just an infrastructure decision—it’s a fundamental shift in how we solve problems for our customers.”

A successful retail lift-and-shift

Providing the best migration experience for customers was of utmost importance, so Volusion engaged Google Cloud Professional Services to assist. The first steps included training on GCP fundamentals and a Cloud Plan: Infrastructure workshop to determine the most appropriate cloud architecture to give customers optimal performance. Google also enlisted a dedicated Technical Account Manager (TAM) to provide overall program management, interaction with product management, and quick issue resolution.

“Working with Google Cloud Professional Services gave us speed and confidence,” says Bardia Dejban Chief Technology Officer at Volusion. “We arrived at an ideal architecture plan within a month and moved forward knowing we were making the right decisions.”

“We want our customers to enjoy the benefits of having access to the largest global, private network in the world, massively scalable compute and storage resources, and peerless geographic flexibility. Volusion services on Google Cloud Platform are faster, more secure, and more flexible than ever before.”

Shad Lutz, Vice President of Information Technology, Volusion

To minimize risk and accelerate time to value, Volusion decided to initially take a lift-and-shift approach. Google provided a Cloud Deploy engagement, moving Volusion’s existing virtual machines to Google Compute Engine instances and data to Cloud Storage. Volusion immediately saw the impact that Google’s low-latency global DNS network could have on its customers’ page load times. Now, when shoppers visit Volusion customers’ storefronts, domain name lookups are served by the nearest Google name server, no matter where in the world they’re shopping from.

Volusion kept customers informed of the coming benefits of GCP through email outreach, notifications in its admin panel, and blog posts written by Shad Lutz, the company’s Vice President of Information Technology.

“We want our customers to enjoy the benefits of having access to the largest global, private network in the world, massively scalable compute and storage resources, and peerless geographic flexibility,” he says. “Volusion services on Google Cloud Platform are faster, more secure, and more flexible than ever before.”

“In the months following, we were able to improve site performance even further, reducing average time to first byte by another 50% for a total reduction of 65%.”

Bardia Dejban, CTO, Volusion

More revenue for customers

Customers that volunteered to be early adopters were the first to be moved to GCP. The difference in site performance was immediately apparent, especially for larger customers, for which even a quarter-second reduction in page load times can increase conversion rates enough to boost revenue. As ecommerce orders went up, customers noticed a reduction in average time to first byte—a reliable indicator of the responsiveness of a website. One customer making approximately $100,000 daily saw page load time decrease by one second, and revenue increase by $7,000 a day.

“Simply put, the more responsive your ecommerce site is, the more orders you’re going to get,” says Bardia. “After we moved our merchant sites to Google Cloud Platform, our customers saw an average first byte load time improvement of 15% without having to do any site optimization.”

“In the months following, we were able to improve site performance even further, reducing average time to first byte by another 50% for a total reduction of 65%,” adds Bardia. (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Average response time improvement for Volusion customers’ e-commerce websites on Google Cloud Platform
Figure 1: Average response time improvement for Volusion customers’ ecommerce websites on GCP

During peak sales periods for retail during November and December, GCP enables Volusion to scale within seconds and allow its customers to capture the additional revenue, rather than having to procure and implement hardware over a period of days or weeks. With near-instant scalability, Volusion can rapidly respond to the changing needs of its customers and offer faster delivery of features and fixes.

World-class, site-wide security

Already heavily invested in information security, Volusion is taking that commitment one step further in the cloud. It’s leveraging Google’s massive network infrastructure to shed malicious traffic such as UDP floods used in DDoS attacks that used to target its infrastructure. Using Google Stackdriver, Volusion is aggregating logs for easy ingestion and analysis of security events—a key requirement for PCI compliance.

“Volusion’s move to GCP provides several key security benefits for our company, platform, and merchants,” says Lance Wright, Director, Information Security and Compliance at Volusion, who led efforts to help ensure merchants could continue to count on the highly secure platform during the migration. “It makes compliance much easier and allows us to re-prioritize time and effort used in the physical security of our co-location facility to other security initiatives.”

With the media seemingly reporting a steady stream of companies losing customer data (and trust), Volusion’s merchants have security top of mind. With GCP, Volusion can deliver new technologies and standards such as HTTP2 and full-site TLS/SSL using a new, high security proxy service.

Marketing analytics on demand

Once the migration was complete, Volusion began discovering other ways it could use GCP to streamline business processes and help employees be more efficient. For example, when marketing had a need for real-time reports on the performance of its digital marketing campaigns from various sources, including Google Analytics and AdWords, the IT team quickly came up with a solution using Google BigQuery for analysis and Google Data Studio for visualization.

“Now I can see what’s happening on a campaign-by-campaign, keyword-by-keyword basis and get real-time insight into when and how customers are subscribing,” says Liz Downs, Vice President of Marketing at Volusion. “We can test different customer experiences and see which are working best. Before Google BigQuery, we just didn’t have access to that granularity or timeliness of data.”

As Volusion deploys new services in GCP, many components will be cloud-native and serverless, using Google BigQuery along with other managed services such as Google Cloud Dataproc and Cloud Dataflow.

Driving cross-team innovation

When Volusion managed its own data center, a team of nearly 50 people used multiple tools to manage and monitor the infrastructure and keep customer storefronts running smoothly. After moving to GCP, Volusion was able to re-focus the team on improving the business through new tools and services.

Engineers use Google Stackdriver with the Google Chrome browser to monitor and report on the GCP environment, creating a central source of truth. Teams collaborate face-to-face using Hangouts Meet on Chromebox for Meetings hardware kits and use Google Jamboard digital whiteboards to sketch and save ideas.

“Previously, there wasn’t a lot of cohesion between our data, engineering, and networking teams,” says Bardia. “Now that we’re on GCP and G Suite, everyone is collaborating and speaking the same language, which helps drive cross-team innovations that benefit the entire company.”

Putting customers first

Moving to GCP will not only help Volusion deliver higher quality, more secure services, but also keep those services cost effective. By hosting on GCP, Volusion expects to reduce its data center costs up to 40% by year three, helping the business and its customers by reinvesting more in research and development and customer service.

“Moving to Google Cloud Platform and G Suite allowed us to break down silos across the organization in a very constructive and efficient way,” says Bardia. “It’s been a dramatic shift that’s allowing us to solve problems and deliver value to our customers.”

About Volusion

Volusion is a leading ecommerce software company based in Austin, Texas. Volusion’s ecommerce sites have processed over $29 billion in merchant sales worldwide.

Industries: Retail
Location: United States
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