Jouer Cosmetics: E-Commerce for a Blooming Beauty Brand
Jouer Cosmetics: E-Commerce for a Blooming Beauty Brand
Jouer Cosmetics was previously engaged with an agency who went through a company split. Jouer needed a team that could get the project back on track, manage their agency vendor, and get the project completed. It was already over budget and a year past it’s delivery date.
Once the site was successfully launched, management was turned over to Jouer. Many developers were retained and managed internally until Jouer again turned to Facet to adopt the role of vendor manager, senior developer resource, and digital agency
Recovering a project stopped halfway isn’t easy. Key features and expected business outcomes were lost in the shuffle and the project had been stuck in limbo for over a year. It meant starting much of the discovery process over, quick stakeholder interviews and project milestones had to be redone. Most of the staff in charge of the initial project kickoff in 2012 had left the company, hadn’t produced documentation, and were unreachable. Facet’s team had to adopt the existing codebase, launch the site, and then assist where needed as Jouer grew.
Building an in-house Drupal team is difficult
even with an established technology team and leadership, it takes careful planning and a clear understanding of business needs to guide product decisions.
Because Facet didn’t have access to the previous team that worked on the site, we endeavored to conduct stakeholder interviews and workshops to relay the foundation for successful development. Jordan Ryan, Facet’s CTO, spent time on-site with the Jouer team to take Facet's development process and adapt Facet's workflows to take advantage of the existing code and progress while unblocking the remainder of the project. Facet later brought all of our technical project management experience to Jouer in many projects including a final migration to Shopify.
Getting Beauty Back on Track
Jouer Cosmetics’ initial Drupal 7 site started development in 2012. Through numerous design revisions and feature planning, the site was well over budget and forecasted to miss it’s launch date. To make matters worse there were some organizational issues that Jouer’s then digital agency was working through — needless to say Jouer was left in the lurch. After the dust had settled, Facet was brought onboard to renegotiate Jouer’s agreement with a newly formed agency and see the project to completion and manage the development process as product owners and project managers.
Jordan Ryan, Facet’s CTO, was called in to lock the project timeline down. Jordan started with discovery, stakeholder meetings, and workshops to determine what had been delivered and what was outstanding from Jouer’s contracted development team.
With Facet working on delivery, the site was completed in 6 months and launched allowing Jouer to begin recovering their investment and focusing on what was most important, their brand.
Bringing Focus back to Product
Building an in house Drupal team is difficult — even with an established technology team and leadership, it takes careful planning and a clear understanding of business needs to guide product decisions. In Jouer’s case they attempted to hire in-house developers, developers from Robert-Half Technology, and finally another external agency. After their e-commerce manager left in 2015, Jouer again approached Facet to work on their Drupal e-commerce site.
What was initially assistance from the Facet team with basic site configuration soon became full-fledged Drupal support and feature development. At that point, Facet’s team was helping Jouer with the everyday operation of the site, including building reports at the client’s request for their Ubercart implementation.
In the time between the initial site handoff and our renewed engagement, additional features had been built that were causing a deluge of customer service requests. The recurring subscription feature needed to be managed as well as additional issues with site speed and overall reliability.
To bring focus back to Jouer’s innovative formulations and products, Facet worked with the hosting platform Pantheon to migrate the site and eliminate the need for infrastructure maintenance while maintaining and reviewing the rest of the site’s code. Moreover, Facet also started an Ubercart to Drupal Commerce migration to future-proof Jouer’s ecommerce experience.
Once the system had stabilized, we could then focus on reducing the number of customer service requests by fixing the existing code or adding additional features necessary to support the site’s desired functionality.
Building the Brand with Relationships
Near the end of the Drupal Commerce migration, Jouer Cosmetics was gaining notoriety with popular social media influencers through the work of their internal PR teams. Jouer’s products were consistently featured by some of the largest influencers in the cosmetics space and so there needed to be a way to track those relationships — every business needs to track the value of their pipelines.
Facet moved forward with building standardized reporting based on Jouer’s requirements while also implementing more advanced tracking for the Jouer team. This cut down the amount of work to determine where Jouer’s focus was best spent.
Scaling with Success
Jouer was preparing for a new product launch and nobody knew how the product would be received. Initial feedback from select influencers was positive, but it was the first product outside Jouer’s core offering in years. Like all Jouer products, the Jouer Liquid Lip Topper was a unique formulation created by Jouer’s founder, Christina Zilber. Needless to say the product launched to overwhelming positive feedback and Jouer hasn’t looked back since.
Processing transactions at the rate needed to ensure a smooth checkout was difficult. Even with additional resources from the Pantheon team, the site was struggling to keep up with the number of concurrent checkouts. Checkouts and other items on the site can’t be cached so the site had intermittent periods of unavailability during product launches. We had patched and optimized the site to withstand a single multiple of their existing traffic, but not the 30x monthly traffic growth in a single 2 hour window.
It was clear that at this point something needed to be done to provide customers with a better checkout experience. Just because the site was popular didn’t mean that customers were forgiving about performance problems. They were frustrated. We worked with Jouer to introduce a queueing system so that we could throttle the number of visitors to the site in an intelligent way. This kept the number of concurrent checkouts at a manageable level and paved the way for successful growth while the codebase was being worked on.
Tools of the Trade
After a year continuously hunting down bugs and patching legacy code, it was time to make a decision: rebuild the site from the ground up or move onto another platform. By this time, most boutique brands in the industry had moved onto self service platforms that were single solutions for e-commerce. The total cost of ownership for these solutions was so low that maintaining a custom codebase just didn’t make sense. After reviewing hosted solutions we recommended Shopify to Jouer as a way to maintain all their existing integrations and minimize necessary production work. Facet continued to maintain the site as Jouer searched for a Shopify developer to handle the Shopify theming and product imports.
Once Jouer was able to find a developer, we produced all the resources necessary for the transition and supported both the Drupal site and transition until the go-live date. Since then Jouer has continued to use the Shopify platform and grow their brand into a widely recognized and sought after beauty line that has collaborated with celebrities like Jeffrey Star.