The 2021 Black Friday & Cyber Monday (BFCM) was our first time supporting online merchants in the US Holiday and shopping season and it was exhilarating with merchants signing up every few minutes, our servers on fire and our small team completely stretched. Here’s a fun story of how we coped.
At Konigle, we build seller tools to help online sellers save time and increase profitability of their online store. Being able to manage pricing well can have the highest impact for running a profitable store. Even McKinsey's 2003 study, the power of pricing, talks about how important pricing is to improve profitability. After speaking to several merchants, we realised even the most basic price management tasks were extremely time consuming and there wasn't an app that was powerful and yet easy to use in the Shopify app store.
In July 2021, we set out to build the most helpful bulk price editor for Shopify merchants that deeply cared about their pain points helping them save time and gradually improve their profit margins. By the time BFCM 2021 approached, we had a very powerful price editor for Shopify merchants to use.
With the Shopify Bulk Price Editor, Shopify merchants could within minutes
- Run flash sales
- Schedule SMS and Email campaigns
- Use advanced filters to price by inventory levels, cost and collections
- Schedule promotion price changes
- Use and manage compare at price on Shopify with ease
- Automatically exclude products being sold at a loss or already discounted
- Easily backtrack price changes.
In true spirit of being able to measure and improve, we also added before and after reports for every price change, so that Shopify stores could analyse the impact of every promotion. For drop-shipping stores, we even provided ways to control dynamic pricing to preserve profit margins.
When it comes to making money online, it is crucial for a store to run profitable promotions and let the buyers know about the promotion well in advance via email and/or SMS. Without properly executed promotions, shopping events such as BFCM are a huge missed opportunity for sellers across the world, and especially stores from North America. (And a) seller tool like the Shopify Bulk Price Editor is mission critical for Shopify merchants for BFCM. It is an honour as well as a big responsibility to serve our community of online sellers during these times.
BFCM 2021 was unique as it was around the time that our small team based in Singapore after almost 1.5 years of COVID-19 induced travel restrictions had the first chance to travel to our homes and see family. It was truly a festive season in more ways than one.
After battle testing our infrastructure, building redundancies and freezing any new code deployments I took this opportunity to visit my parents and in-laws who hail from a small village town in India. As did our other co-founder Ashish, who was in another part of India attending to a medical condition. While our third co-founder and the CEO, Jatin was at our HQ in Singapore managing customer support and any other issues that may come up.
But here’s the thing with software and product market fit, when it arrives even the best preparations cannot help. Merchants began to sign up and schedule promotions for anywhere between 100 products to 100,000. Jatin, who was hardly sleeping, started noticing that our infrastructure was slowing down and merchants starting to become impatient. As luck would have it, within a few hours our infrastructure went on fire due to almost exponential increase in usage and inability of our scheduling algorithms to scale to this massive demand. This led to queuing of few hundred thousand jobs making our job processing infrastructure to run out of allocated capacity and come to halt. This was not good. We did not want to disappoint any merchant and here we were with everything coming to a standstill.
After trying all he could do, Jatin started to reach out to Ashish and I, and again as luck would have it, both of our mobile phones were not reachable as we were travelling in very remote areas. Hence, he then started to reach anybody who could reach someone, who could reach us. After, many frantic calls, my brother was able to reach my father-in-law and I, and after finding some internet access, I started to help re-starting our infrastructure.
But as I was making some progress, my father-in-law in his sense of duty to come and inform me that Jatin was trying to reach me, decided to run towards were I was and slipped and injured his knee. It was scary, I had to rush him to the nearest hospital but thankfully, it wasn’t something very serious. After a while, I resumed working and within sometime we were able to get the infrastructure up and running and thankfully did not disappoint our beloved merchants.
Though very stressful at the time, but we now look back it fondly that our deep empathy for our online sellers got us through as a small team of 3 people. As they say, never let a crisis go to waste, we analysed what we could have done better and we have acted on those lessons learnt.
- Over compensate infrastructure for holiday seasons - We now over compensate our computing infrastructure to handle increased demand and avoid meltdown scenarios, here’s our status website.
- Have better visibility into the system, operations and performance - Since the occurrence of the event, we have built better tools and alerts to have better visibility into every aspect of the Konigle platform. This has helped us to detect potential issues upfront.
- Empower our growing team with tools and knowledge to assist in case of emergencies - Even with proactive measures, there could be technical glitches from time to time. Merchant Success is the sole reason we exist and as more merchants are using Konigle for mission critical tasks, we have empowered everyone in our growing team to be able to help in case of an emergency situation.
We have come a long way since the incident. Today Konigle has more than 15 sellers tools that are built to save time and increase profit margins for online stores and has evolved into a profit improvement software for online stores. Here’s how you could use it to improve profit margins on your Shopify store.
It is very fulfilling to hear from online sellers about how Konigle has made it easy and profitable for them to run their online store.
We are eagerly waiting for the BFCM 2022 and hope to generate millions in revenue and profits for sellers on our platform and help them succeed at commerce.