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Phorest Case Study

2020

Phorest uses AWS to boost innovation in its software for hair and beauty salons. AWS Lambda helps it to offer fast and reliable services to salons despite heavy, unpredictable traffic spikes. High customer satisfaction has allowed it to achieve steady growth and expand into new geographic regions.

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“We’d never have been able to build such a thriving business without AWS.”

John Doran
CTO, Phorest

Phorest Helps Salons Analyze and Adapt Using AWS

In 2003, Ronan Perceval set out to create a company that would help hair and beauty salons manage their businesses better. To understand the challenges they faced, he spent a month working at a salon’s front desk. He found this experience so useful he still asks each of Phorest’s 200 employees to work at a salon one day each year to stay aware of its customers’ everyday challenges.

Perceval believes that Phorest’s focus on the customer has contributed to its steady growth and the Irish company now serves 100,000 beauty professionals in 7,000 salons in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the UK, and the US. The salons rely on Phorest’s customer relationship management (CRM), booking, and point-of-sale (POS) apps for day-to-day operations, as well as its marketing tools for expansion. 

Reliable Service While Managing Spiky Demand

But Phorest’s growth has not always been easy to achieve. In 2010, its on-premises solution proved time-consuming to maintain and hindered the company’s ability to offer online booking. The IT team had to visit each salon for software updates or troubleshooting any errors. The infrastructure struggled to scale with increasing traffic as customer demand grew. Apps were slow to load so salons couldn’t reliably book appointments and marketing communications to salon clients such as special-offer emails failed to send in a timely manner.

Phorest turned to AWS to improve service and keep the business growing and innovating. It started an 18-month cloud migration program and built an online booking system on an AWS backend. Phorest now processes three million appointments and sends over three million texts and four million emails each month. ”AWS is always able to cope with our demand,” says Phorest CTO John Doran.

Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) allow Doran’s team to scale the infrastructure with its growing customer base and easily deploy containers based on customer demand, so salons can always book appointments and communicate with customers. AWS Lambda allows Phorest to handle infrequent, heavy loads, so Phorest can quickly process special-offer messages, whether it’s 20,000 texts on a slow day or 200,000 on Black Friday. “We worry less about running our infrastructure now, so we’re more able to innovate and help our customers to run and grow their businesses,” says Doran.

Launching an Innovative Platform to Aid Customers in a Crisis

Phorest’s core business is helping salons manage daily operations. AWS has simplified those core duties, so the company has the resources to create new features that meet salons’ evolving needs. It’s even ready to respond when the unexpected happens. When COVID-19 shut down salons, for instance, Phorest within weeks launched a voucher system on its AWS backend that allowed salons to sell vouchers their clients could use to pay for beauty treatments when salons reopened.

This allowed vulnerable small businesses to maintain cashflow while unable to offer in-person beauty treatments. AWS’s flexibility aided the quick development and Phorest was able to build out and deploy the voucher system as a standalone service. So far 1,503 salons have sold €2.3 million worth of online vouchers.

When salons expressed interest in selling beauty products directly to customers, Phorest was able to launch an ecommerce platform. Using AWS made the service reliable and robust, and able to manage the bursts in demand from image loading and order processing.

Data Insights Drive Salon Sales

AWS has also increased the sophistication of Phorest’s marketing solutions by allowing salons to gain insights from customer data. Knowing what treatments clients buy, and when, allows salons to tailor offers and keep them returning. Doran describes these data-driven insights as the “crown jewels” for salon owners.

Phorest stores this data—appointment books, client contact information, and purchase history—for salons in Amazon Aurora and Amazon DynamoDB. AWS’s high security standards provide salons with peace of mind, knowing that their client data is safe, and analytics tools provide salons with a deep understanding of customer behavior that can ultimately increase sales.

Perceval’s experience on a salon front desk gave him the insight to help his company innovate and grow. Today, AWS’s experience has helped Phorest to overcome the challenges it faced, so it can continue to innovate and grow. “We’d never have been able to build such a thriving business without AWS,” says Doran.


About Phorest

Phorest is a software provider that aims to help hair and beauty salons manage and grow their businesses. Based in Dublin, Ireland, it serves 7,900 salons in Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the UK, and the US.

Benefits of AWS

  • Better response to surges
  • Flexible crisis response
  • Improved R&D innovation
  • Reduced costs
  • Shorter development times
  • Reliable server performance

AWS Services Used

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.

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Amazon Elastic Container Service

Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.

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Amazon Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, that combines the performance and availability of traditional enterprise databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

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Amazon DynamoDB

Amazon DynamoDB is a key-value and document database that delivers single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. It's a fully managed, multiregion, multimaster, durable database with built-in security, backup and restore, and in-memory caching for internet-scale applications.

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