Dunelm logo

To support a major digital transformation initiative, Dunelm.com switched to Fastly to increase speed for their shoppers across web and mobile storefronts, enhance security, deliver site updates faster at scale, and augment an infrastructure-as-code strategy. The results: an average of 978% improvement in page load speed on their homepage, a 23% increase in basket performance, a 200x increase in deployments, and greater protection of customer data.

dunelm.com/
Industry: Retail, Ecommerce
Location: Syston, United Kingdom
Customer since: 2020

Favorite features

  • Full site delivery + acceleration
  • Fastly API
  • Real-time log streaming
  • WAF + DDoS
  • Serverless Compute@Edge

Dunelm’s ecommerce stack, optimized to be 978% faster and more secure with Fastly

Dunelm is one of the largest home furnishings and accessory retailers in the U.K. The company offers hundreds of thousands of products on their ecommerce site as well as over 170 brick-and-mortar superstores across the country. Dunelm also operates its own home delivery system and maintains a nationwide fleet of delivery trucks. To keep the business running smoothly, over 200 engineers build and manage a portfolio of applications, including a robust ecommerce site and a suite of internal tools.

An infrastructure-as-code approach to modernizing on the cloud
In early 2017, Dunelm undertook a major re-platforming initiative that would allow engineering teams to leverage the many advantages of cloud technologies. With a more modern, cloud-based architecture, Dunelm’s website could better support rapid business growth and provide a faster, smoother experience for customers.

The new headless and serverless platform, with API-driven and microservices architecture, was rolled out in October 2019, just in time for peak holiday shopping season. Plus, the new setup better equipped the development team by integrating with their continuous integration (CI/CD) tools.

Technical integrations

  • Datadog
  • Terraform
  • AWS

“Purging our cache used to take 15 minutes to one hour. With Fastly, it now takes less than half a second.” Tom Hayman
Head of Platform Engineering

Modern content delivery yields 200x increase in deployments

To align with their new infrastructure-as-code strategy, the platform team needed a modern solution and sought to consolidate content delivery, with the goals enabling the wider engineering organization to be more agile and responsive to business needs. By empowering engineers to deliver updates and new features more frequently, they are better able to “fix forward” by addressing issues as they arise. Overall, the team found Fastly's edge cloud platform to be a good fit with their tech transformation strategy.





“Fastly enables us to deliver 200 releases per month instead of only one. It’s a massive step change for our organization.” Tom Hayman
Head of Platform Engineering

In addition to performance improvements, Fastly also offered engineers greater flexibility and deployment speed. Engineers could fine-tune their approach and implement different caching techniques on the various microservices to optimize the customer experience. Fastly’s ease of use and seamless integration with Dunelm’s code-first tech stack also made it easy for developers to quickly deploy a larger volume of updates. In addition, the Fastly platform’s built-in security features help the business strengthen customer relationships.

Rollout at the flip of a switch

During the new stack rollout, the platform team planned to switch over to Fastly gradually and run 10% of traffic through Fastly while keeping 90% on their legacy CDN for a gradual rollout. However, a major incident occurred which affected our Google Product Listings Advertisements, impacting the team’s ability to sell products on their new platform

To address this challenge, the team decided to flip the switch and route 100% of traffic through Fastly right away. The switch itself was a simple DNS change, but the impact was immediate — products started appearing on Google Product Listings again, and over the following days everything was back to normal. All of their traffic is now going through Fastly, including images.

During the changeover, Fastly’s technical support team was on hand to help everything go smoothly. They were present in the dedicated project Slack channel to answer questions in minutes, and they also assisted the Dunelm team with log monitoring to help spot and troubleshoot issues.



“Fastly's unique developer-focused security approach fits with our security principles, acting as an extension of our network and enabling us to deliver safer customer experiences, without compromising performance," Tom Hayman
Head of Platform Engineering

Enabling developer agility across teams

Fastly’s edge computing technology is highly configurable and enables Dunelm teams to harness the power of the edge to deliver innovative and personalized customer experiences. When developers need inspiration or information, Fastly’s robust DevHub offers patterns, recipes, and references, as well as tutorials and guides. For all teams, the Fastly platform simplifies management of content delivery in one unified place, which standardizes CDN services across the organization and improves collaboration.

Dunelm’s engineering organization is split into small, autonomous teams based in the U.K. and Portugal. The platform team is a shared service that provides DevOps, automation, site reliability, tooling, infrastructure, as well as other services that they rely on. Implementing Fastly has enabled them to more effectively support teams throughout the development cycle with data and insights that help drive better decisions. They configured Fastly’s real-time log streaming to send logs in a format readable by Datadog, a cloud-based monitoring and analytics solution, which gives them greater visibility into website performance and potential issues.




“Fastly engineers have strong engineering principles that align with ours, which is really important to our collaboration and helps us achieve great things.” Tom Hayman
Head of Platform Engineering


“We believe that our code needs to have some governance or understanding of security issues. Fastly makes it easier for us to enable WAF and DDoS protection because it’s built directly into the network.” Tom Hayman
Head of Platform Engineering

Metrics show massive performance improvements of 800-900%

Since implementing Fastly, Dunelm.com has become lightning fast. There have been new surges in customer demand online during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people look to shop online and on mobile. Scaling up with Fastly has been seamless.

The platform team recently conducted load testing on production servers to quantify the improvements gained from moving to Fastly. They compared their busiest day of 2019 to their busiest day so far during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and measured a 500% improvement in page load speed across the site. Some specific pages showed a whopping 800% to 900% improvement.





“Fastly helped us improve page load speed by up to 978%, making Dunelm.com now one of the fastest ecommerce platforms in the U.K.” Tom Hayman
Head of Platform Engineering

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