Stop Press! DC Thomson Launches on Magento Commerce 2

The 113-year-old publisher needed a 21st Century platform

DC Thomson Media is one of the leading media creators in the UK, and part of the DC Thomson Group. The company is headquartered in Dundee, Scotland, with a London base in Fleet Street. DC Thomson Media publishes newspapers, magazines, and comics, and boasts an extensive eCommerce and events portfolio, alongside interests in gaming and radio.

To sell their magazine subscriptions, gifts, collectables, and puzzles direct-to-consumer online, DC Thomson Media launched the DC Thomson Shop, using the popular Magento Commerce 1 Open Source platform. But in 2017 the company realized they needed a more up-to-date and robust solution to accelerate their growth. DC Thomson Media had heavily customised their online store and it was suffering from sluggish load times and a dated user experience. There was also little opportunity for cross-promotional marketing or personalization. For DC Thomson Media to achieve their ambition of doubling their revenue in the next financial year, they needed a fast, stable, and secure platform.

The Digital Team at DC Thomson Media performed a careful analysis of five top eCommerce platforms, including Magento Commerce 2, comparing both on Cloud and on-premise solutions. Their KPIs were to improve workflows for adding new products, enjoy better analytics, server-side performance analysis, and a well-supported range of extensions. Alan Melrose, Digital Commercial Operations Manager for DC Thomson Media, looked at the results: “The Cloud edition won by a clear margin,” he recalled.

“This project has been hugely successful and delivered immediate and tangible results. We’re looking forward to more development and greater sales as we improve our skills and knowledge in Magento Commerce.”

Kirsten Morrison

Head of Digital, DC Thomson Media

A customized, personalized user experience

“It was critical that the platform we selected could provide the core functionality without the need for heavy customisation,” said Melrose. “This had been a constant drain on resources over the previous four years.” The main attraction of Magento Commerce 2, from a UX perspective, was its out-of-the-box capabilities: “There was very little front end customization added and additional functionality was largely done using extensions,” he said.

The next steps were to add personalization to the store, and cross-sell/up-sell capabilities at checkout. Now customers who drop “My Weekly Gardening Calendar 2019” into their shopping basket, might be offered “Pass It On Cooking Tips From The 1950s” before they checkout. Customers can even upload a photograph of a loved one, and comic book artists will add them to a personalized print or canvas, next to DC Thomson Media’s most beloved cartoon characters.

“We’ve added around 18 extensions to improve administrative functions – for comparison we had 84 on our Magento Commerce 1 instance,” said Melrose. “On the customer side we added Gigya and Sailthru extensions to power our single customer view and deliver marketing automation. This allows the store to share and consolidate customer profiles and data points across a collection of 26 websites.”

This solution now powers personalized marketing based on propensity modelling and cross-platform browsing, turning the store into an intelligent marketing machine. Finally, DC Thomson Media built an application to collect direct debit orders from customers’ bank accounts, and configured the REST API to provide an endpoint for their internal data reporting warehouse, and fulfilment partners.

The store is now an intelligent marketing machine.

The end-to-end project took nine months in total, but the design/build/deploy phase took just six months. DC Thomson Media are thrilled with the results: “The impact in the short term has been immediate, with all site metrics improving, including server response time, page load speed, page views, conversion rate and pages per session,” said Melrose. “Our increase in revenue has already outstripped our initial investment.” In the new build, DC Thomson Media’s improved user experience allows customers to breeze through to checkout, and use different payment methods for multi basket items. But most importantly, the move to Magento Commerce 2 improved their workflow, leaving the team to concentrate not on processing products, but building brands to last another century.

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“Magento Commerce 2 is an incredibly powerful platform so there has been little customization required. We witnessed an immediate improvement.”

Kirsten Morrison

Head of Digital, DC Thomson Media