Software company Lucid Interactive wanted continued expansion but growth was slowed by a costly, inflexible hosting model. By moving its web-based retail applications to Microsoft Azure, it benefits from a cost-effective, scalable infrastructure
that grows with business and improves performance for its customers. Higher conversion rates, up by 45 percent, and reduced churn have increased revenues by 25 percent and cut support time by 15 percent.
Founded in 2002, Lucid Interactive specializes in solutions that help retailers manage operations on third-party marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Play.com. Through its web-based
RepricerExpress services, Lucid customers can improve efficiency by automating the sales process, synchronizing inventory levels across different marketplaces, and monitoring and amending
pricing. The scale of customer operations can be vast: many sell 20,000 products through 40 different marketplaces, tracking their prices against up to 100 competitors.
Although the company is based in the United Kingdom, it has customers across the world, ranging from major retailers to distributors and home-based businesses. Company growth has been rapid, which led to issues with Lucid’s hosted technology infrastructure.
“Our web-based solutions were hosted by a datacenter provider, but due to our expansion, we continually had to rent new servers on long-term contracts,” says Brendan Doherty, CEO of Lucid Interactive. “It was very difficult to scale, as we were always either
underusing or overusing our technology infrastructure. This meant we were never optimizing expenses and simply paying for what we used.”
The cost of hosting also had an impact on customer satisfaction. Although both Lucid’s retail solutions are web-based, one component of RepricerExpress had to be installed at the customer’s location to keep bandwidth charges manageable, which complicated
setup and support issues. Additionally, latency issues affected application performance, which prompted customer churn and impacted revenues.
The hosted approach was holding back Lucid’s operations. It therefore understood that it needed to move to a platform that could scale with business needs, aid global expansion, and deliver a flexible infrastructure that matched the company’s requirements
||It is nice to know that that our costs depend on exactly what we use. The ability to scale has been hugely important, as previously we were held back by the inflexibility of the hosting model.
| Brendan Doherty
CEO, Lucid Interactive
As a web-based business, Lucid knew a lot about the public cloud platforms available. It investigated and tested the leading services, including Amazon Web Services, before selecting Microsoft Azure for a detailed pilot in January 2013, prior to eventual
adoption, and migration in February 2014. “We knew we had to get the choice of provider completely right as the cloud platform is central to our business. While we tested all the major solutions available, Microsoft Azure stood out for its functionality, pricing,
maturity, and close integration with our software, which is built on Microsoft .NET technology,” says Doherty.
Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables companies to quickly build, deploy, and manage applications, all hosted in Microsoft datacenters. Lucid was impressed by the high throughput, low-latency caching, and the HDInsight Service data management
platform that is part of Azure. HDInsight seamlessly processes data of all types, whether structured or unstructured, and of any size, making it possible for businesses to gain the full value of big data.
Following the successful pilot, Lucid moved its retail solutions to Microsoft Azure, using the native “infrastructure-as-a-service” capabilities to set up 2,000 virtual machines. Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines deliver on-demand, scalable compute infrastructure
that Lucid can use to quickly provision resources to meet growing business needs. Lucid can now more easily create customized implementations for customers who require greater flexibility; these implementations can be built quickly through a template-based
Customer sites were then migrated to Microsoft Azure from the hosting provider in less than 30 minutes each, including manual setup time. “The whole migration process was straightforward and seamless. Azure now provides the total infrastructure required
to run our business. We can monitor the capacity we are using in real time and optimize resource usage, keeping operating costs under control,” says Doherty.
Microsoft Azure now forms the heart of Lucid Interactive’s operations, offering scalability to support growth along with increased revenues and customer satisfaction.
Scalability. Lucid is now able to right-size its infrastructure to meet customer requirements, even through seasonal peaks. “It is nice to know that that our costs depend on exactly what we use. The ability to scale has been hugely important,
as previously we were held back by the inflexibility of the hosting model,” says Doherty.
Greater customer satisfaction. The instant scalability of Microsoft Azure removes latency issues. Application response times to pressing a key have fallen from 40 seconds to just 1 second. “Previously we lost customers due to the overstretched
performance of the servers. With Azure this has disappeared, and we simply don’t have customers coming to us complaining,” says Doherty.
Increased revenues. Improved performance has made Lucid’s services more attractive to customers, with 45 percent of those that try Lucid’s products now going on to buy. This has helped increase revenues by 25 percent.
Support for business expansion. The global network of Microsoft datacenters makes it simple to deploy local servers that are close to customers, thereby optimizing performance and making it possible for Lucid to expand in the United States.
Insights gleaned from using HDInsight to analyze the millions of pieces of price-check information that it collects every day has enabled Lucid to investigate new services. Previously this type of analysis was not feasible due to high hosting costs.
Reduced support time. Because Azure is much more cost-effective, Lucid can now host entire customer solutions in the cloud, removing the previous desktop component. This has dramatically cut support and setup time. “We’d not previously measured
support time as it was such a large part of our operations. Complaints about speed have dropped by 80 percent, and support time has reduced by 15 percent,” says Doherty.
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