Data Architecture

How routing helped Missguided navigate their digital transformation

04 March 2022 • 5 min read

routing digital transformation

The digital economy boomed during the COVID-19 crisis. As people embraced social distancing, they turned to online shopping more than ever before. In fact, 67% of consumers say they shop differently now due to COVID-19. Retailers stepped up to the challenge, not only fulfilling more online sales but by embracing emerging technologies to make their customer experience more engaging and convenient. 


No one could have predicted COVID-19 or the impact it would have on the digital economy and the fashion industry. We also couldn’t have predicted how technology would change. But the one thing we can forecast with certainty is that change will happen. Tech is continuously evolving, so reducing the cost of change is far more important than anticipating it. Being adaptive will drastically decrease costs, reduce impact and help you manage risk. 


Having an adaptive digital strategy in place will help you plan for the future whilst remaining agile to market changes which is exactly what Missguided have done. 


Rather than trying to avoid the inevitable, Missguided approached the challenge head-on, deconstructing their infrastructure into its contingent parts. By moving away from a monolithic system, they gained complete control of their stack and its components, allowing them to improve speed, efficiency and performance. 


On March 22nd, we’ll be joined by Missguided IT Director, John Rigall, to discuss their digital transformation journey with AND Digital, which culminated in the development of a cutting-edge app. During the session, How Missguided unlocked growth through modernising their digital strategy, we will openly examine Missguided’s journey, discussing the steps we took, and pitfalls we overcame, along the way. 


What is routing?


Routing isn’t a new concept, but it’s often overlooked. Routing underpins the data architecture of most technology and is a crucial part of any transformation. From sending messages to shopping online, everything we do online depends on routing in some form. It’s not necessarily cutting-edge, but without an effective strategy and understanding of your estate, inaccurate routing can bring your whole ecosystem to its knees. 


The Missguided Mantra 


‘Plan for change. Delaying, preventing or avoiding change will only result in bigger change.’ 


The challenge:


Missguided has over 10,000 products available online at any one time and launches up to 1,000 new styles each week. That’s 10,000 individual products and over 100,000 unique URLs. The team needed to find a way to migrate, test and check over 100,000 product variations, taking into account page performance and SEO. That’s a lot of information and variables to contend with! 


Missguided formulated a well-considered plan and adapted it throughout the journey as they learned about their technical capabilities. But what the team didn’t anticipate was the significant role routing would play. 


The importance of being able to adapt and pivot to the changing market in this time of uncertainty was by far the biggest learning for both Missguided and the team at AND Digital. But as both teams were aligned behind a shared vision and culture, we were able to test, learn and iterate in a very short space of time, delivering world-class results. 


Here are some of the lessons we learned throughout our routing journey: 


Lesson 1: You will start again 


As the age-old saying goes; if something can go wrong, it probably will. Anticipating failures will help prevent them from happening twice, so building with an agile approach and having a growth mindset will help you resolve issues faster and build a better product. 


How Missguided planned for failure through failure


To make something stronger, you need to know its weak spots. When it comes to app development, finding faults is much easier when you have a consistent approach that is predictable, repeatable and fast. Agility is a must. 


Missguided focused on automated pipelines and performance testing to identify any issues and test each individual product variation, looking out for anomalies or missing data. This also gave them the opportunity to test the website under progressively increasing load and identify the breaking point. This comprehensive approach kept the team agile and adaptive, ensuring we had complete control and visibility over all the moving parts. 


Lesson 2: Learn to adapt 


Following a plan can be effective the problem is, plans take time to create and soon expire. As we have learned over the last two years more than ever before, no one can predict the future, and having a plan doesn’t necessarily make things easier. 


Instead, focus on how you will adapt to any setbacks, unplanned work or issues that could derail your progress. During a complex project, it’s important to take time to pause, assess the journey so far and look ahead at the next phase of work. 


Lesson 3: Set targets and monitor progress


For each stage of your journey, set clear targets and success measures so you can monitor progress and mitigate risk throughout the project. Start small and gradually increase the number of routes to migrate. 


Missguided did exactly this. In fact, they based their entire rollout around five key milestones: 


1. Total number of routes to migrate to a single region

(set clear targets)


2. Percentage of routes migrated

(track progress)


3. Cycle time to complete a single migration: ability to start a cycle again

(time spent against progress achieved)


4. Number of errors / response times

(measure success against threshold)


5. SEO rankings and overall performance

(manage and mitigate risk)


By breaking the wider project into smaller cycles, Missguided started migrating a low percentage of routes around 15% of the total. They then increased the scope to 25%, 50%, 75% etc, running a set of pre-configured performance tests for each cycle. 


Lesson 4: It’s a balancing act


Investing 100% of your team’s effort into a long-term re-platform project is unrealistic. You need to find the balance between project work and business as usual. Working on both is time-consuming, so try to coordinate your team to ensure you’re delivering business value alongside re-platforming progress all while managing risk. 


Lesson 5: You can’t do it alone 


Due to the technical nature of routing, encourage your platform and infrastructure teams to work together on configuring elements like traffic routing. This will help with workforce management, establish a strong connection between the teams and ensure maximum knowledge-sharing throughout the project. 


Routing was one piece of the digital transformation puzzle during our work with Missguided, supporting tactical improvements across the estate derived from moving from a monolithic system to a composable infrastructure. 


If you need greater control of your estate, join our webinar on March 22nd, How Missguided unlocked growth through modernising their digital strategy. During the session, we’ll welcome Missguided IT Director, John Rigall, to discuss the journey we’ve been on together. We’ll explain the steps we took to overhaul their digital infrastructure and develop a customer-first app. 

Data Architecture

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