How a 3D visual experience was “Minted” with Cloudinary on AWS
The big picture
Remember the bad old days when website images had to be low res so that they wouldn’t take forever to load? Or they pixelated endlessly? While those days are thankfully behind us, today’s challenges include shrinking attention spans that demand visual stimulus, and soaring user expectations. To meet these challenges, ecommerce websites must push large numbers of images through a process-heavy pipeline at top speed on the backend. When an ecommerce site is a design marketplace that crowdsources content from a global community of artists, the numbers of images are exponentially higher and the processes even more complex.
Worth a thousand words (and a lot of work)
Minted, a marketplace of independent artists that offers art, stationery, and home décor products, has reached over 75 million homes worldwide. As an image-centric business, Minted manages a massive inventory of images—with 59.8 million images supporting 4,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) in the art segment alone—and must ensure that every pixel is perfect. For instance, for a single art print, the site offers dozens of customization options across size, color, medium, frame, matting, material, and design. The number of images needed for each product variant can run into the tens of thousands. As VP Engineering at Minted, David Lien, explained, “Because we are a premium brand, we want every single one of our product images to match the selected configuration exactly—so if you pick an 18” by 24” art print on canvas with the sage colorway and the brushed silver frame, we will show that combination exactly on the hero image of the product details page.”
The image processing pipeline
Over its 14 years in the industry, Minted’s catalog has grown in size and complexity. Factor in the level of image processing work required to support each SKU, and the result is a complex patchwork of tools, scripts, streaming technologies, and queuing systems of different vintages. Not only did this complex image processing pipeline require significant engineering resources for maintenance, but it also meant, as Lien said, “It would sometimes take weeks to launch new art products, which really impacted our ability to stay nimble and move fast.” Add in stability issues and limited pipeline visibility, which sometimes led to broken images on the site, and Minted’s reputation as a premium design brand was at risk.
Picture perfect: in a matter of hours
Today, Cloudinary powers Minted’s complex image manipulation process to simplify and optimize its 2D and 3D images. The Cloudinary solution leverages Amazon CloudFront, AWS Lambda, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), AWS Snowball, and Amazon Rekognition to deliver an end-to-end rapid image processing service.
The benefits are clearly visible and run the gamut from reduced overhead and processing time to increased pipeline visibility and subsequent monitoring and correction of broken images. Now that Minted can reliably launch new art products in a matter of hours versus weeks, Lien is clear about the path ahead and is looking to use Cloudinary to solve their next technical challenge: Minted’s stationery category, which can have over a million images for a single design and is currently handled by a complicated backend process. Browse through Minted’s catalog of art prints and wedding stationery, and click into the product details pages to see the customization options in action.
Find out how Cloudinary can help your business optimize its image processing. Ask for a demo today.
AWS Partner spotlight
Cloudinary helps brands to thrive in the new visual economy, enabling business leaders, developers, and marketers to deliver visual-first experiences that connect, engage, and convert. As an ISV partner with demonstrated technical proficiency and proven retail success with AWS, Cloudinary enables brands to accelerate their modernization and innovation journey with technology offerings, built to scale, on AWS. With more than 50 billion assets under management and 9,000 customers worldwide, Cloudinary is the industry standard for developers, creators, and marketers looking to upload, store, transform, manage, and deliver images and videos online. As a result, leading brands like Minted, Atlassian, Bleacher Report, Bombas, Grubhub, Hinge, NBC, Mediavine, Peloton, and Petco are seeing significant business value in using Cloudinary, including faster time to market, higher user satisfaction, and increased engagement and conversions.