Specsavers Optical Group Ltd is a multinational opticians and audiologists. From humble beginnings in Doug and Mary Perkins’ spare room in 1983, Specsavers now operates thousands of stores across 12 countries, including the UK, Ireland, ANZ, Canada, and Northern Europe.

In its 40-year history, Specsavers has remained a family-run business and never lost sight of its mission to provide the best value optometry, audiology, and other healthcare services for its customers.

The Challenge

Key to the online customer journey is the ability to search the Specsavers website for a local store and book an appointment for any of Specsavers’ services - a hearing test, a contact lens consultation, or an eye test – including an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan, which helps view the health of the eye in greater detail than a typical eye test.

However, the two systems on the website facilitating this process, ‘Find’ and ‘Book’, were part of a monolithic application that had, over time and successive updates, become increasingly outdated, complex, and difficult to change. This meant that:

  • Deploying new features to the Find & Book system – for example, a change to the User Interface a customer interacts with – could only be done through fortnightly or monthly release cycles.
  • A lack of robust testing capabilities meant there was a growing risk that making updates to Find & Book could result in bugs affecting the performance and stability of the live system.
  • There was no centralised view of analytics that could give Specsavers observability into when or why customers abandoned the Find & Book journey without making an appointment.
  • The underlying Drupal technology was nearing end of life and presenting risk that needed action and mitigation.

Specsavers realised that it needed to overhaul these systems in a way that would allow it to make frequent, rapid improvements to Find & Book and clearly understand the impact of those changes on customers. Having worked together for several years on a number of different projects, Specsavers approached BJSS to find a solution.

The Solution

As part of a blended, cross-functional team including Specsavers and other vendors, BJSS redesigned and replatformed the Find & Book system on a new, cloud-based technology stack, introducing several improvements over the legacy system:

  • A proper continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline to provide a process for designing, engineering, and deploying features daily instead of the previous fortnightly and monthly release cycles.
  • A robust automated test suite and rigorous quality checks, including blue-green switching – in which two identical production environments are run, one live (blue) and the other not (green), and the final stages of testing are done on the not-live environment before switching traffic to it – to allow for low-risk deployments with zero downtime for customers.
  • The creation of a consolidated API layer, supported by a GraphQL Gateway, to simplify the integration between Find & Book and numerous third-party and in-house systems. This provides a standard interface to all back-end systems associated with Find & Book to develop new customer journeys, configurable by market and appointment type, without writing custom APIs for each journey.
  • The integration of a more comprehensive suite of monitoring and observability tools, as well as the introduction of Monetate, an A/B testing tool that allows slightly different versions of a new customer journey to be tested to determine which one produces more conversions. Built on Azure and taking advantage of the inherent scalability of the cloud, the new Find & Book system was successfully rolled out to five of Specsavers’ international markets, and we continue to rollout to the remainder.

“BJSS’ solution gave us the ability to gradually migrate the UK Find and Book journeys to the new platform in a controlled and low-risk manner, and gave Specsavers the confidence to accelerate the pace of rollout into additional countries where Specsavers operates worldwide.”

Glen Leakey, Global Digital Transformation Director at Specsavers

The Outcomes

  • 11% bounce rate on store pages.
  • 360 production deployments per year.
  • 200,000 bookings per week.

Specsavers can now make changes to the Find & Book journey daily, easily test those changes with targeted portions of its customer base, and use improved analytics and monitoring tools to fully measure the impact on conversion rates.

As a result, Specsavers can rapidly and easily experiment with enhancements to the customer journey – for example, changing the number of fields customers must fill in or the order in which they appear – and validate whether this results in more successful bookings. It is also now easier for Specsavers to implement these new journeys for other demographics and markets to see if they have a similar impact.

Key results

  • Over 200,000 bookings per week are being made using the new Find & Book system across 1,200 Specsavers stores.
  • An 11% decrease in bounce rate for customers viewing store pages through the new Find & Book system.
  • 360 production deployments a year, compared to fortnightly or monthly releases.
  • Significant improvements to page performance and Google Core Web Vitals.
  • Risk mitigation of move away from end-of-life Drupal technology.
  • Move to modern cloud technology, enabling the pace and ability to enable the ambitious digital agenda.

“We’ve come a long way with BJSS. We’ve bottom-up re-architected the solution, wholesale changed the technology, and moved from a monthly release cycle to a platform that we can use to demonstrate value daily and scale as we grow. We continue to work with them because they add value beyond the technical achievements, bringing expertise in Agile and quality engineering and a collaborative approach to allow us to achieve our ambitions globally.”

Glen Leakey, Global Digital Transformation Director at Specsavers

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