Case Study: Skullcandy Uses New Relic to Launch New eCommerce Site

Skullcandy logoFounded in 2003 by Rick Alden, Skullcandy is a leading audio brand that reflects the collision of the music, fashion and action sports lifestyles. Their distinctive logo symbolizes youth and rebellion, and their motto “every revolution requires a soundtrack” captures the company’s spirit and culture.

Skullcandy fuses bold color schemes, loud patterns, unique materials and creative packaging with the latest audio technologies and innovative functionalities to create their iconic products. Their products – including headphones, iPod decks and gaming headsets – are sold in the United States and over 70 other countries around the world. The company pioneered the distribution of headphones in specialty retailers focused on action sports and youth culture, and they have since expanded distribution to select consumer electronics, mass, sporting goods, and mobile phone retailers.

The company has experienced consistent rapid growth since 2005. Its eCommerce site, which debuted in 2008, was an immediate hit and has provided the company with another fast growing sales channel. Built on the Magneto eCommerce platform with PHP and Linux, the success of the eCommerce site has challenged the company’s interactive team to keep up with its accelerating demands. The team’s goal is to provide a fun, friction-free buying process for their customers.

In 2010, Andrew Spencer joined the company as Skullcandy’s Director of Interactive Technology. At that time, the eCommerce site was experiencing severe growing pains and multiple performance issues. Unplanned outages were on the rise, happening more than once a week and for an extended period of time. Since the outages equate to lost revenue and potentially lost customers, Andrew’s first goal was to identify the cause of the problems and fix them.

Andrew determined that the problems were due to a memory leak and created homegrown tools to fix them. But without any proactive real time performance monitoring and management tools, the interactive team wasn’t able to see what was going on in real time. He started looking around for a better tool when a colleague recommended that he try New Relic.

The Skullcandy interactive team was impressed with New Relic from the start. The tools was easy to implement and quickly gave them actionable data. Andrew credits this success to New Relic being a SaaS-based solution. “New Relic is really nice. It only takes about 5 minutes to install the agent,” says Andrew. “With New Relic, we get everything we need from a single service – alerts, error monitoring, transaction traces, application statistics, etc., and best of all, we got immediate results and insights that we just had not seen before.”

Skullcandy HeadphonesSkullcandy runs an agile development cycle and finds New Relic’s historical reports critical to their success. The deep visibility the tool provides them shows how changes impact their applications using comparative data. The company now runs New Relic in both their production and QA development environments. And they’ve had some very big wins in the 18 months since they started using the tool. “Without the insight into our application that New Relic provides, we would have to spend a lot of time eliminating the application as the cause,” adds Andrew. “New Relic allows us to quickly focus on the network, systems, or other aspects that can cause performance problems once we know that the application is not the cause.”

By being more pro-active in troubleshooting issues, the Skullcandy team has been able to avoid most emergencies and fire drills. Andrew concludes by saying, “I look forward to using the tool to help shape our technology going forward, and know that our future development plans will be easier to achieve and more successful using New Relic.”

See the full case study to find out how New Relic helped Skullcandy launch their new eCommerce site.'

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