Ledbury specializes in luxury dress shirts, casual shirts and related accessories. It's an established US brand, featured in this Wall Street Journal article on men's obsession with dress shirts. Ledbury's idea for manufacturing is to target on small workshops located in the US. This enables them to make high-quality products. As Ledbury CEO told CNBC: "Uniform-volume product will be made abroad, and highly personal, customizable goods will be created domestically. Our customers can choose from a ready-to-wear shirt made in Turkey, a made-to-measure shirt made in Poland or a truly bespoke [custom designed] shirt made in Virginia."
Merging the past and modern shopping experience
Ledbury tech development is driven by dynamic and creative business processes driven by substantial marketing (advertising and promotions) that often leads to surges in traffic. The key to the success of this project was to act quickly and effectively.
Ledbury runs an impressive online store, which their in-house team built with the Spree Commerce open-source platform. However at times Ledbury's fast business growth requires some external software development reinforcements. When this happens, they usually turn to Netguru.
Recently Ledbury needed to add a crucial functionality really fast. The idea was to link their retail points of sale with the e-commerce system, so customers would be able to visit a local store, have measurements taken, ask a salesperson for advice, and then order any of the products online. This meant adding a completely new feature.
Understanding a complex open-source implementation quickly
First, our developers had to understand the logic of a complex application. Building a product using an open-source platform, such as Spree Commerce, involves adjusting modules to your needs. Development is fast, because elements have already been cleanly programmed and tested by users. On the other hand, the customized structure is not so clean, and code is not as concise as in a dedicated application.
Using a Spree Commerce platform is like buying standard equipment for your retail store. You get lots of furniture and hardware, but you need to adjust them to your needs. You might need to modify some elements. To fully understand Ledbury's architecture our team had to be proficient in Ruby on Rails, and know the logic of Spree Commerce.
Here are five key solutions that helped us succeed with this project:
- Engaging experienced Spree developers. Not every Ruby on Rails programmer could handle this project. Dealing with open-source complexities required expert knowledge of this platform.
- Efficient communication and transparency. We adopted the working culture of Ledbury's development team, who knew their product perfectly. We plugged into Ledbury’s Pivotal Tracker and used Slack for everyday communication.
Different time zones was not an issue. On the contrary, it provided an additional incentive to both teams: Each team member knew that if they left a task or a comment behind, it would become an issue for the whole weekly iteration plan.
- Precise but flexible planning. Weekly iterations are standard in agile project management that dominates contemporary bespoke software development. What separates great teams from good ones is the execution. Efficiency and high flexibility during weekly iterations made it possible for Netguru developers to adjust to the dynamic business environment of Ledbury.
- Bulletproof quality assurance process. When delivering quality code in a short time, the role of QA specialists is as important as the role of programmers. There is simply no time for unnoticed errors. At Netguru, process testers are integral part of each (even the smallest) team. They use a unique Netguru checklist system and Rollbar error tracking software
- Adjusting the team size to business needs. We started the Ledbury project with one Ruby on Rails developer, a quality assurance specialist and a project manager. Later Ledbury added two more RoR developers.
How we helped Ledbury grow
Hiring Netguru team made it possible for Ledbury to build new functionality that merged the sales process in the online store with bricks-and-mortar outlets and added the feature of placing orders for merchandise at points of sale or by phone. Thanks to the new functionality, anyone can walk into a Ledbury’s store, consult a qualified salesman and order products online made to fit the customer’s precise measurements.
The new Spree module played a role in Ledbury's dynamic growth. Increasing overall revenue and expanding stores. Ledbury expects to sell over 100,000 shirts in 2016 and plans to open stores in Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Moreover the company acquired the second-oldest shirt workshop in the country - Richmond-based Creery Custom Shirt Makers that has been running for 100 years.
Ledbury was able to double its team by hiring talented, experienced developers for a pre-defined period of time. Time used to introduce the Ledbury platform to Netguru developers was also an investment in a long-term partnership. Once the functionality had been successfully implemented and all issues solved, the client’s internal team seamlessly took control over the code. However, if they need additional help in the future, they have access to a pool of experienced developers who know their platform, and a project team that knows their workflow and culture.
You can check out the whole case study here.