The Entertainer plays winning game with Rackspace managed cloud to boost sales


Rackspace, the #1 managed cloud company, today announced that it is providing its managed cloud services to nationwide UK toy retailer The Entertainer so it can manage large traffic spikes and launch new services.

The Entertainer was recommended to use a Rackspace Private Cloud to power its e-commerce offering through its work with Rackspace channel partner Conexus, a consultancy that helps companies develop an omni-channel ecommerce strategy. The retailer has worked with Rackspace and Conexus to roll out a hybris omni-channel solution, which includes a same day Click and Collect service plus a responsive site design that enables mobile sales, driving large traffic spikes. These have become critical elements of the retailer’s mission to enhance its online presence beyond the basic online store it previously relied on, in order to become the ultimate toyshop in the UK.

Significant results have been achieved since these cloud-powered capabilities became available. According to The Entertainer, total website sales have risen substantially, especially in the five weeks leading up to last Christmas when it saw a 60% sales increase from the same period in 2013. What’s more, the mobile website, which was introduced after the IT infrastructure had been rolled out, now represents a significant and fast growing portion of online purchases. These improvements are a result of The Entertainer’s increased presence on a range of online selling platforms and its Click and Collect tool, sales from which grew by 81.7% in the five weeks before Christmas compared to 2013.

When The Entertainer decided to leave its previous cloud provider with the aim of enhancing its online presence, it worked with Conexus to draw up a list of key requirements that it needed a new provider to deliver, including scalability, intensive support and a high level of performance that would support new services and comprehensive stock management updates. Rackspace was identified by both organisations as the best provider after proving it could meet these requirements through its managed cloud offering.

One of the key reasons that Rackspace was chosen involved the high scalability of its Private Cloud solution. This is vital for The Entertainer due to the seasonality and traffic spikes associated with the retail business. The company generates half of its annual revenue in November and December alone, which creates the need for a flexible IT infrastructure that can handle huge spikes of traffic and transactions. When the company recorded the busiest day in its history on the 20th December, 2014, the management from Conexus and scalability of the Private Cloud solution was tested and both proved particularly valuable. 

Ian Pulsford, Head of IT Services, The Entertainer, said: “In addition to the scalability that’s available through the Rackspace Private Cloud, the high performance it offers is also very important to us. It has allowed the business to deploy a Click and Collect service, which has improved the customer experience and boosted sales. A crucial aspect of Click and Collect is having an effective stock management system, which we also power by the cloud. Every evening between midnight and 4 a.m. we monitor the stock available in each store, collecting data on our 17,000 products. This ensures that the availability we offer our Click and Collect customers is accurate and updated in real time.”

“However, as we’ve learned in the past with previous hosting providers, the technology alone is not enough if we don’t have access to a high level of support and expertise to keep it running smoothly. Knowing that I have 24/7/365 access to a team of Rackspace technical specialists and the advice of ecommerce experts at Conexus who all know my business inside out is invaluable.”

Rackspace Private Cloud and Conexus also helps The Entertainer stay ahead of the latest toy crazes, a crucial aspect to the retailer’s success. For example, when loom bands suddenly became incredibly popular, The Entertainer acted quickly to order a large amount of stock, the details of which were then inputted on a cloud powered stock-management system. This helped each store meet the huge demand and as a result The Entertainer claimed 90 per cent of the profitable market. The Entertainer was able to manage stock effectively through the support of its partner ITIMwhile the scalability of Private Cloud handled the traffic spike as visitors flocked to the site to buy the product.

Jeff Cotten, MD Rackspace International, said: “Multi-channel retailing is highly competitive, which means both the in-store and online experiences have to be excellent to keep customers coming back. It’s been great working with The Entertainer and Conexus to build a Private Cloud environment that is high performing and highly scalable, so The Entertainer can focus on developing new services and increasing its presence across a growing number of ecommerce channels. This is a brilliant example of how our specialist team can create bespoke e-commerce solutions that can cope with seasonal purchasing trends while providing a fast, reliable customer experience.”

Paul Lynch, MD of Conexus, said: “As The Entertainer’s commerce partner, our role is to ensure it offers a high quality customer experience across all channels. Rackspace services enable us to provide the performance levels required to make this a reality, even during peak trading windows, through the use of innovative technology, effective planning and the dedication of our support teams to deliver exceptional services.”

Looking forward, The Entertainer plans to continue using Managed Virtualisation (VMware) for the majority of its infrastructure, with scope for bursting into the Public Cloud during busy marketing campaigns. The company will also improve scalability even further by beginning to use Cloud Files in the near future.