ModCloth: Scale Systems to Meet Growing Demands of Global Business

December 2, 2016
"Your team will be stronger when you leave Pivotal. Not just your engineering team, but your product managers, your designers and your engineering leadership. Your entire technology musculature will be much stronger, Pivotal sets you up for long-term success. It’s a velocity gain over time, not a short-term fix." 


ModCloth, the innovative online retailer of vintage-inspired fashion and décor needed to scale systems to meet the growing demands of its global business.


After opening the San Francisco office, ModCloth hired 80 people in 80 days. The company had been agile on a small scale and was looking for a quick transition to agile development with a much bigger team.

The company was experiencing explosive growth and the leadership approached Pivotal Labs seeking support in scaling the engineering team and development process while continuing to innovate in social commerce. Plus, with the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, the company needed a cost-effective way to offer customers free shipping at different order value thresholds. Our task was to create a flexible shipping promotion tool that could be delivered immediately and used year round. Since it was a critical part of the checkout flow, the tool had to work right every time.

They came to Pivotal Labs intent on creating a sustainable development culture and sought our help with staff training.

When it came to breaking down the company’s monolithic eCommerce platform, ModCloth needed engineers who had experience with this kind of architecture work and could teach and implement test-driven development.


In an extremely tight timeframe, we produced a promotion tool ModCloth could use to delight customers and increase average order value. It launched on time, performed defect free and was so flexible that ModCloth was able to make last-minute changes to the threshold and still meet the holiday rush. The tool adapts easily to changing conditions; ModCloth continues to use it by simply adjusting the threshold that triggers a promotional offering.

Because ModCloth grew so quickly, its internal technology hadn’t scaled to support process changes. The company committed to the task of segmenting its eCommerce platform into smaller, more manageable pieces and returned to Pivotal Labs for help building out the baseline for a highly adaptive set of custom product sourcing tools that could evolve with the business. One of the highlights of this engagement was the complete restructuring of the internal procurement system.

ModCloth was launching dozens of new items daily and needed a more efficient way to source and procure products. Pivotal Labs built a custom manager tool to streamline the process, replacing static spreadsheets and enabling visual assortment planning; employees can see products at every stage of the supply chain.

We pair-programmed with four ModCloth developers at a time in three-month rotations to model agile practices for the team. We collaborated to shift ModCloth toward a service-oriented architecture that would instill sustainable patterns and services to better address team needs. Together, the programming pairs rebuilt ModCloth’s data warehouse in Ruby and helped develop a business intelligence application, product catalog and an updated storefront.


Training was a critical factor in the success of ModCloth’s engagements with Pivotal Labs. We focused on building the skills and experience of the company’s developers and product managers, getting them up to speed on sustainable development practices that would serve over the long term. We left the ModCloth team well equipped to advance the company’s business goals, building on the software we developed together.

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