Wallpaper manufacturer Graham & Brown were established in 1946 by Harold Graham and Henry Brown. With the severe shortage of paper following the War, Henry and Harold cleverly procured a large supply of surplus metallic paper, an eight-colour surface printer and a new embossing machine, with which the two men began a wallpaper revolution. Although still very much a family business with its roots in Blackburn, today the company is a global brand and has associations with household name designers from Julien Macdonald to Kelly Hoppen.
Graham & Brown have a long and noble heritage as an innovative wallpaper manufacturer but for over five decades their business model was strictly B2B. The advent of the Internet offered them an opportunity to sell directly to customers and rapidly increase their reach to a global audience.
In 2013 the board of Graham & Brown took a decision to make e-commerce a strategic focus for growth. With a small and highly bespoke legacy e-commerce system they engaged digital commerce specialists, Blueleaf, to build a new e-commerce platform that would help them make the transformation to global retailers. What followed was a period of strategic development and internal restructuring as Blueleaf and the growing e-commerce team at Graham & Brown showed the business exactly what was required to transact online in a global marketplace. Of critical importance was the holy trinity of people, platform and infrastructure.
Taking account of Graham & Brown’s design-led ethos, user-experience analysis and e-commerce best practice, it was no surprise that the final platform would need to be fully responsive, feature rich and chock-a-block with editorial content. As a major investment in the future of Graham & Brown, not to mention a significant creative and technological undertaking, Blueleaf recommended Wirehive as their hosting partner of choice. With extensive experience in large-scale e-commerce deployments, Wirehive were able to provide the infrastructure and expertise that would support Graham & Brown during the site launch and growth phase.
By consulting closely with both the teams at Blueleaf and Graham & Brown, Wirehive were able to create a flexible yet robust dedicated hosting platform on their public cloud, tailored to the site’s design and build requirements. This was all underpinned by Wirehive’s 24 x 7 Managed SLA which gave Graham & Brown much needed peace of mind during the early stages of launch. Not only did it mean that they had two pairs of eyes on any problems that occurred, but because Wirehive’s support service is tierless, they always got through to a named contact who knew their solution extensively.
This consultative approach has been ongoing. In the past 12 months Wirehive have worked closely with the e-commerce team at Graham & Brown to recommend the most efficient and cost effective ways to upgrade and refine their platform to support their rapid international growth. Most recently this has seen the solution expand to include load balancing and fail safes to remove any single point of failure. This investment in scaling the infrastructure was made possible by Wirehive’s access to complimentary technologies – in this case CloudFlare CDN and New Relic monitoring – to overcome some issues with site speed. The latest iteration of the site enables trade across six continents with dynamic localisation of content to support the brand message in each territory.
“Wirehive has talented, accountable people at every level of the business. This was very important to us, especially in the early stages of the project. I’m pleased to say this has stood the test of time. As our international success grew, it enabled us to work together on scaling the solution in a way that aligned with both our business objectives and budgetary challenges. What we’ve ended up with is a hosting environment we can rely on supported by people we trust.”
Mark Leach Head of E-Commerce, Graham & Brown
VMWare vCloud Platform
Dell PowerEdge host servers
Storage powered by Nexenta
Juniper router and switch infrastructure
Consultation & Planning
Performance monitoring by New Relic
Since launching the new e-commerce platform Graham & Brown have seen exponential growth in international sales. Overseas revenue increased 180% over the past 12 months. Since rolling out the latest infrastructure upgrade, response times have more than halved and in some territories conversion rates have increased by over 50%.
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