iOffer’s online marketplace serves as a refreshing and enjoyable alternative to stodgy, deadline-driven online marketplaces. With iOffer, buyers and sellers engage each other in open, honest, and enjoyable information exchanges, which stand in sharp contrast to the frenetic and inflated pricing environments common to most auction-styled websites. As a result, iOffer is enjoying a growing global customer base of buyers and sellers who come not only for the commerce, but also for the relaxing and engaging online atmosphere. In fact, the site currently serves more than 90 million page views to over 8.2 million unique visitors each month (a total of 11.2 million visitors monthly).
iOffer has pursued a dual-pronged strategy to outperform its bigger competitors: continuously enrich the buying and selling experience, and penetrate new markets where competitors lack a presence. As iOffer succeeded in this approach, its popularity grew around the world, and international users quickly accounted for more than fifty percent of the site’s visitors each month.
Performance of dynamic interactions suffer over long distances
The interactive nature of buyer-seller negotiations at iOffer.com required the company to serve a range of dynamic applications and content – from its origin server in San Francisco – to support critical website processes. For example, the site averages millions of requests, including search queries, transactions, and item detail questions and offers. To support these dynamic interactions, iOffer’s web application is constantly interacting with site visitors’ browsers. Due to the Internet’s inherent packet loss and latency, international users were subjected to page load times in excess of three seconds. According to Derek Biafore, Marketing Associate for iOffer, “We wanted to address slow download times, which ran contrary to our internal goal of delivering all pages in less than one second. Plus we wanted to anticipate latency issues as we expand our user base globally.” iOffer knew it needed to find a way to accelerate these interactions.
Identifying the right CDN solution provider
To improve the delivery of dynamic applications and content to international locations, the iOffer team sought the help of a content delivery network (CDN) service provider that could speed page load times globally and cost-effectively. This would enable iOffer to stand behind its sub-one second performance goal without affecting the bottom line or forcing iOffer to raise its prices. Though iOffer considered the possibility of building its an additional data center closer to international site visitors to enhance dynamic website performance, it quickly dismissed this option. “After evaluating both initial build-out and ongoing maintenance costs, we realized this approach was prohibitively expensive,” explains Biafore.
As the iOffer team evaluated CDN solutions, they kept three goals in mind. First, it needed a CDN provider that could perform in all regions of the world. “The majority of our site visitors are outside of the U.S., in over 190 countries,” says Biafore. Second, the CDN provider would need to demonstrate significant application acceleration results from both a third-party measurement service and previous customers. And third, the CDN solution needed to integrate easily with iOffer’s unique ecommerce platform based on Ruby on Rails, an open source software framework for programming.
After evaluating the capabilities and pricing of several CDNs, iOffer decided that CDNetworks was best able to offer a solution that met all three of its key criteria. As the largest CDN with roots in Asia Pacific and local capabilities on five continents, CDNetworks was uniquely able to provide a proven acceleration solution using a cloud-based platform that would easily integrate to iOffer’s ecommerce platform.
“We were taken by CDNetworks’ capabilities,” recalls Biafore. “We were also impressed with the well-known retailers already using the CDNetworks solution.” For iOffer’s CEO Ryan Boyce, it was the bottom-line results that CDNetworks could deliver that were most impressive. “Thanks to the speed improvements delivered by CDNetworks’ solutions, we’ve been able to achieve higher customer satisfaction in a cost-effective manner. Just as important, faster performance has translated into increases in site stickiness, transaction volume and user volume, all of which contribute to our top line and bottom line growth.” In fact, after just one month, iOffer measured growth of 4.5% in international traffic, 4% in return visits, 3% in page views, and 2.5% in site stickiness.
To date, CDNetworks’ Dynamic Web Acceleration service has helped iOffer boost performance by 200-300% in the most challenging regions. “CDNetworks has provided the perfect balance of cost-effective content delivery without the burden of building and maintaining our own geographically dispersed data centers. We’re always looking to enhance our site. Now that we can be confident about site speed and responsiveness, we’re free to add new functionality to enrich the visitor experience,” concludes Biafore.