Nike gets its footing — in the cloud


With its epic product launches, Nike’s digital channels can get unprecedented levels of interest and demand. And crashes are unacceptable.

The athletic goods giant is on pace to hit $50 billion in revenue by 2020, a goal that Nike expects to hit with the support of its digital strategy, according to Mike Wittig, VP infrastructure, Nike.

Key to its strategy is Snkrs, an app that gives Nike fans mobile access to the brand’s most premium sneaker lines and enables users to set notifications to stay ahead of the game when it comes to upcoming releases, as well as tracking order statuses.

For those not in the know, Nike has become synonymous with high-demand sneaker releases, from Air Max to coveted Air Jordans. These limited-edition kicks generate such demand that they tend to sell out instantly — making it imperative for Nike to have digital channels that can scale to support spiking customer volume.

“A healthy launch is about 300,000 requests per minute, and this could climb to 1 million requests,” Wittig said at the recent Manhattan Associates Momentum conference.

Historically, the company relied on the support of multiple data centers. Nike would add between two and three hours of additional capacity into data centers to keep up with launches, however “bandwidth would sit dormant until we needed it,” Wittig explained. “We also selected locations based on project funding. It just wasn't efficient.”

Nike needed an elastic operating platform that could scale when needed it, and shrink when they didn’t. Based on this pre-requisite, the company began re-platforming its data centers to support its ongoing digital strategy — a move that is also better supporting critical product launches. With the help of Manhattan Associates, Nike began transitioning online operations to a cloud-based platform from Amazon Web Services.

Nike has been live with AWS for two months and is already seeing results. Besides enabling products to launch faster, the cloud platform automatically increases bandwidth during product launches to support volume growth, improves the order capture experience and streamlines order processing.

These kinds of improvements will continue to move Nike’s digital strategy forward, especially as it looks for new ways to engage shoppers on-the-go.

“We need to be a technology-based company if we want to survive, especially since shoppers don't go to the mall like they used to,” Wittig added.

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