In the dynamic world of fashion retail, even the best-known and most beloved brands have to stay agile and responsive to changing trends and shopper behavior. River Island, a leading UK-based fashion retailer with a rich history dating back to 1948, knows this all too well. One reason this privately-held company, with more than 60,000 employees and 250 stores worldwide, maintains its leadership is its commitment to tech innovation.
Over the last two years, the retailer’s online sales have rocketed past the $450M mark. As their online sales rose, it became increasingly clear that their legacy media platform, Adobe Scene7, couldn’t support the pace of growth.
Beyond the scalability issues, River Island’s legacy platform was preventing them from delivering the best user experience (e.g., an inability to support new lightweight image formats) and slowing their time to market.
To address the issues, River Island adopted a microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, and headless (MACH) tech stack to streamline and optimize its media workflows. David Edwards, Head of Technology at River Island, chose Cloudinary’s DAM platform as the media layer of its new tech stack along with the e-commerce platform commercetools and Talon.One’s promotion engine.
Edwards explains, “Quite often you talk to a potential partner about MACH but find they’re not truly living MACH. From our first conversations with [Cloudinary], we really felt like from the ground up, the architecture and Cloudinary as a company was living those MACH principles.”
After moving to Cloudinary, River Island was able to massively streamline its entire media management life cycle. Team members particularly valued Cloudinary features like autotagging and metadata capture, as well as support for image recognition and automated product attribution.
A key area where Cloudinary made an impact was in the time-consuming image correction process, which it was able to cut by up to 75%. Emma Ryan, Senior Studio Manager for River Island UK, details how Cloudinary’s autotagging feature helped to reduce manual input errors and improve discoverability:
“If you’re looking for a specific green top, for example, [autotagging] ensures you can find them all in an instant. Garment color matching is now also much better optimized. And I love how quickly we can now match and swap images around. All in all, resolving image issues which was once up to a three-day process is now down to under a day.”
Crucially, Cloudinary supports the new, lightweight visual media formats across all channels, resulting in faster page loads, lower bounce rates, higher conversions, better SEO rankings, and an overall improved user experience.
The bottom line: By modernizing its tech stack with Cloudinary and other MACH software, River Island’s lean, optimized e-commerce site now delivers the perfect mix of high performance and visual appeal. All this ensures that this much-loved fashion brand will always continue to stay on the front foot in the dynamic, multi-channel, and global world of fashion retail.