Gilt’s Dublin engineering team deploys personalised search

27 Aug 2012

Just over a year since luxury goods e-commerce site Gilt established its Dublin operations its engineering team is already being credited with facing a major engineering challenge and overcoming it with a new personalized search feature.

The move follows a site revamp spearheaded by the Dublin engineering team.

Gilt came to Ireland in 2011 when the New York-headquartered Gilt Groupe announced it was bringing 200 jobs to Ireland with the setting up of the international HQ in the country, as well as the software development centre in Dublin and a customer support centre in Limerick.

The site offers merchandise ranging from fashion to home décor as well as food and wine for sale daily at discounts of up to 70pc.

Dynamic search for cutting edge e-commerce

Describing the engineering challenge in setting up search on the site, senior engineer and technical lead of the Stores Platform Team Adrian Trenaman said: “Implementing search for a flash-sales business is hard. Thousands of users are trying to buy the same, limited inventory at the same time, and every day that inventory changes. 

“To be useful to our members, we wanted to be sure that search results reflect the products still available for sale, which means search has to be dynamic across our complete inventory. But we didn’t stop there: we also wanted a personalized experience, so search results contain exclusive items only available to certain users. The end result is a seamless, personal user experience, with some of the highest conversion rates in the industry.”

“We wanted our members to find the gorgeous stuff they love, faster.  With bargains snapped up within minutes of a sale going live, it’s critical for members to easily find the items they want”, he said.

“With this in mind, and because we like to innovate as quickly as possible, we built out our keyword search using Scala, Play Framework and Apache Solr. This combination of modern tools enabled us to quickly build a fast, rich, and easy-to-maintain solution; our members now enjoy a lightning-fast, up-to-date & personalized search experience.”

The vice president of architecture at Gilt Eric Bowman said the Irish team played a vital role in the adoption of Scala at Gilt and a new push for strict APIs to Gilt’s core services. “The team in Ireland has spearheaded an initiative to build out the new APIs using Scala, and we’re now seeing the fruits of our labour as different teams in Gilt Groupe roll out complex new features, quickly and with very high quality.

“We’ve recently started to use Play Framework, for Search and our amazing new ‘Gilt Live’ feature.

“It nails a sweet spot in terms of productivity and performance, while still giving us the long-term benefits of type safety,” Bowman said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years