Luxury Fashion Startup Selects JBS to Build Ecommerce Storefront

Executive Summary

Moda Operandi (Moda), a well-funded luxury fashion startup, needed to go from conceptual business model to an online retail storefront in less than six months for a live New York fashion show. At fashion shows in New York, everyone is excited about the new lines they just saw, but there are lead times of eight to nine months before the designs are available to purchase. Moda’s ecommerce platform solves this problem by giving shoppers access to these luxury designs immediately after the fashion show.

As is the case with many startups, Moda had a dynamic environment with various business rules and processes actively evolving throughout the project. Because of this, JBS utilized an agile, iterative process as the most effective workable methodology. We focused on strategy and design the first two months, iteratively working towards delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) in month three. Implementation of the finished ecommerce platform kicked off shortly after. In order to increase productivity of the development and implementation, at JBS’s behest, Moda committed to a cloud native approach based on AWS that saved both development time and costs.

The ecommerce website and mobile app launched successfully to great reviews, ending its initial year with higher than forecasted revenue. Today, Moda Operandi carries hundreds of luxury brands and designers across women’s, men’s, fine jewelry, and home. They ship to over 125 countries worldwide and employ more than 400 employees globally.

Challenges

Being in startup mode, Moda Operandi, an online luxury fashion retailer, needed an experienced, business-oriented technology partner to take their conceptual idea of selling luxury fashion items to a global ecommerce platform. They were challenged with delivering a minimum viable product in a short period of time while mitigating the risk of failure and ensuring their delivery on their target launch date. This platform needed to allow customers the opportunity to preorder looks directly from designers after the runway show that might not have become available in traditional luxury retail stores. Moda needed this platform to launch before the annual New York fashion show, in less than six months.

How JBS Helped

Moda reached out to JBS for our deep experience developing minimum viable products (MVPs) from the ground up – starting with a conceptual idea. For custom software development, startups can be particularly interesting as there is no previous process to leverage, no existing data to map, and an environment where business requirements change frequently as the business evolves its initial model. It is critical to have experience and expertise managing this process.

JBS believes that an agile, iterative process is the most effective and workable methodology for a dynamic environment like a startup. The first step was to work with our partner to put a stake in the ground via a documented straw man approach for implementing the ecommerce storefront. This included ideation, a high-level list requirements and functionality to be included at launch, general user experience expectations, and initial traffic/order estimates.

Once the initial straw man plan was in place, it was used to create an iteration-based schedule that gives Moda transparency into estimated costs and timeline. The cost and timeline changed frequently as the startup changed direction. Impacts of these changes were communicated clearly to all parties, with everyone working towards the same plan.

Moda had a pretty heavy set of proprietary rules, not typical for a startup. For instance, the ecommerce site specifically targeted an international clientele. That meant we had to take into account export tax for every country. They also required a 50% deposit on all orders over $2,500 worth of goods, then the remaining balance due in 30 days when the item is shipped out. The requirements were made more complicated when layered on top of the export tax calculations and remittance. Our engineers developed specialized rules based on their unique business model to satisfy all of the requirements.

We chose to use an opensource stack to keep costs down. Python, the Django Framework (MVC), and Elasticsearch (Browse/Search) were selected for the technology stack. Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure was heavily leveraged, using services such as ELB (Enterprise Load Balancing), S3 (file services), RDS (Remote Data Services) and CloudFront (CDN).

Results

In under six months, our team of senior developers took a conceptual idea and business model from an idea on a piece of paper to a robust global ecommerce platform. By utilizing AWS cloud-based services, our development team was able to build and scale a major ecommerce platform in a matter of months. Leveraging AWS in the design and architecture of the platform allowed Moda to launch their online storefront and mobile app in advance of New York fashion week, allowing shoppers to purchase luxury items they just saw on the fashion walkway.

The site launched to great reviews and ended its initial year with greater than forecasted revenue. We continued working with Moda for nearly two years, iterating on the solution, until they built up their internal development team.