Case study

Nelly

Scalable engineering for a fast fashion giant in the Nordics

Fast fashion, especially in the e-commerce space is all about marginal gains. Be it a faster website, a more immersive shopping experience, or even a smart recommendation engine, everything plays a vital role in encouraging a user to click on that all important ‘Checkout’ button. In addition, online retailers have to be wary of the Amazon juggernaut and its relentless mission to absolutely dominate the global e-commerce space (Diapers.com, anyone?).

With all these on their mind, Henrik Palmquist and his team at Nelly—one of the largest online fashion retailers in the Nordics, found themselves looking for a software engineering partner who could help Nelly stay ahead of the pack. Interestingly, Nelly wanted its chosen development partner to be able to work closely with its in-house team, while remaining adequately distanced from day-to-day affairs so as to be able to focus on the company’s long term product roadmap.

We needed a partner where we had the possibility of scaling the number of resources we needed up and down. We also wanted a partner with a wide skill set so that we can draw on backend developers one day and app developers the next day, for both iOS and Android apps, which we are using today.
Henrik Palmquist
CTO

A springboard for growth

To kick off our partnership with Nelly, we welcomed a few of Nelly’s in-house developers into our own offices, and they worked side-by-side with us for a few months. During this time, they were able to experience ‘The Calcey Way’, which is what we call our ethos of straight talk, radical transparency, and the quality-first attitude that we approach everything with.

As Nelly’s team in Sweden and our team in Colombo got to know each other, we began overhauling Nelly’s critical backend systems in order to make them future-proof, light on resources, and easily scalable.

E-commerce is a sector in which even a small technical innovation can translate into a significant financial and strategic advantage. It’s great that we have been able to make significant improvements to almost all aspects of Nelly’s technological infrastructure, as a result of which Nelly has been able to grow its revenues and market share despite the fierce competition.
Manjula Tillekaratne
Director - Project Management

The extended remote development team we assembled for Nelly also went on to build the online retailer’s Android mobile app from scratch. In addition to making the app fast and light on mobile data consumption (e-Commerce apps end up downloading a lot of high-res images, which can quickly nuke a data plan), we introduced new features such as a ‘Swipe Feed’ that promise a more immersive experience in addition to gently nudging users to make a purchase.

To make things even better for Nelly’s customers from around the world, we built a ‘nice price’ module that can intelligently scan through exchange rate databases and customs duty tables to tell users exactly how much they will have to pay for their packages to reach their doorstep.

Going the extra mile

Hanging on a wall in our office is a poster that reads “Sales go up and down, Service stays forever”. It’s one of our favourites because it spits out a fundamental truth everyone easily forgets, often to their own detriment. Upon discovering that Nelly’s operations teams were having trouble monitoring sales on important days like Black Friday, we sprang into action to build an advanced real-time dashboard that could track sales while providing insights generated from a wide array of internal databases.

Similarly, we built a translation module that operated in the background to automatically translate product information, and also built a smart barcode generator that allowed Nelly’s supply chain team to tag products with rich barcodes that contained a repository of internal data which made it easier to track and ship goods on time. 

At Calcey, we like to think like product owners. When we see that a client can reap significant benefits by switching to a different language, framework, or technology, we make it a point to let them know. When our team realised that using Next.js as a framework could help Nelly benefit from faster page load times and better search engine visibility, we built a proof of concept, which is a risk-free way to experiment with something new. We actually encourage our developers to collaborate with our clients to carry out such controlled experiments, and it’s one of the things that sets us apart.

A partnership that continues to go from strength to strength

Things have worked out so well between us and Nelly that today, we bear responsibility to maintain Nelly’s mobile apps, back office and internal software, supplier portals, and even other websites that Nelly owns and operates such as NLYMAN.com. 

In the meantime, Nelly has been able to keep growing significantly every year. In 2020, the company reported net sales of almost SEK 1.3 billion, despite the slowdown in the global economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It makes us extremely happy to know that we had a part to play in that growth as well.

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