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Akamai Technologies, Ltd., a leading provider of cloud services for delivering, optimising and securing online content and business applications, today announced that MandM Direct, one of the UK’s largest online fashion retailers, is using the Akamai Ion web experience solution to significantly enhance its online customer experience and website performance, across all device categories.

Utilising Ion, MandM Direct has:

• Increased conversion rates across mobile phones and tablet devices
• Significantly reduced bounce rates for customers using mobile and tablet devices
• Nearly halved page load times for the full site from non-wifi connections

For companies across the globe, achieving a consistent user experience for their online brand has become all the more challenging as mobility, device proliferation and other industry trends force them to face new situational performance challenges. To improve consistency of its site – whilst making the web experience richer, more personalised and dynamic – MandM Direct decided to adopt a responsive web design approach. However, the inherent complexity of responsively-designed pages as well as the dynamic nature of personalised content, mixed devices and connection qualities, poses a significant optimisation and development challenge, which MandM Direct asked Akamai to help solve.

Working to tight deadlines and driven by the fast-approaching peak Christmas season, MandM Direct worked with Akamai on a proof of concept combining a responsive web design with the Ion web experience solution. The page load improvements delivered gave MandM Direct the confidence that it could implement a single, highly-responsive website design that serves mobiles, tablets and PCs, rather than needing to deliver bespoke sites for each device category. The overall development time required for the project was greatly reduced and simplified by removing the need to develop a site for each of the most common device scenarios, allowing developers to focus on the features of a single site.

The Akamai Ion Web Experience Solution dynamically optimises browser content based on the device, connection quality and browser flavour. It is a tightly integrated suite of delivery, acceleration, and optimisation technologies with the required intelligence to make real-time web experience optimisation decisions based on the requirements of the given situation. Ion is designed to help simplify the complexity of modern web delivery while delivering a faster experience that is highly available, secure and scalable to meet peak capacity demands.

Graham Benson, IT director at MandM Direct, explains. “As a retailer, having a single site that is device-agnostic ensures a consistent user experience irrespective of the access device that the consumer chooses to use. This is very important to us. And from a marketing perspective, it increases business agility by reducing the maintenance and development windows. A single site is quicker, cheaper and easier to build/maintain than three separate ones. Finally, the implementation of Ion, including the Front End Optimisation capabilities, has meant that our internal IT team do not need to become browser optimisation experts. Instead, they can concentrate on the site’s functional components, safe in the knowledge that Akamai will take care of the performance elements of the site.”

In addition to providing customers with superior web experiences across devices, implementing Ion brought a number of internal business benefits: MandM Direct also negated the need for growth in its server infrastructure; traffic throughput at the data centre dropped, as did the resource requirements for each server. This is due to the advanced web acceleration features of Ion, which offloads requests from the originating servers for assets and other media to the Akamai Intelligent Platform. MandM Direct was also able to take advantage of Akamai’s other offerings, including further offloading, security and media acceleration, as peak trading fluctuations required.

Benson concluded, “We worked very closely with Akamai to achieve these results, but we retain a great deal of deep granular control over the configuration of our services through Akamai’s Luna Property Manager. It means that we are self-sufficient, and our costs are lower where in the past we would have relied on Akamai’s professional services teams to make configuration changes.”

Alex Gibbons, vice president for northern Europe at Akamai added,
“Situational performance is probably the biggest and most complex challenge facing any organisation with an online presence. Presumptions can no longer be made about how people come to your site. It’s no longer guaranteed to be a PC and broadband connection. To the customer, the experience has to be consistent across device, browser, connection speed and connection type. For those who rely on their website to attract, transact and interact with customers the costs for building a site optimised for every possible combination are totally unviable. Ion enables organisations to deliver a cost effective, truly optimised experience for their customers on any device, any connection at any time.”

Published on: 2:17PM on 25th February 2014