How we saved Hello MOOD's WooCommerce set-up and helped them continue to scale
Hello MOOD is a US-based dispensary that offers a wide range of 100% legal THC products. From smokable flowers and vapes to moreish edibles and beyond, Hello MOOD ensures that customers in the United States can always find products carefully curated to suit their moods.
Hello MOOD were experiencing a huge amount of growth that their site was simply incapable of keeping up with. They experienced frequent crashes and slow-loading pages, and couldn’t determine the root cause of the poor performance that was costing them sales and growth potential. Hello MOOD tried adding more power to their self-hosted solution, hoping it’d help resolve the issues, but it didn’t move the needle.
“Our business was scaling fast, but our site was holding us back. We had real concerns about whether the site could keep up with our expanding customer base, given that we were plagued by frequent crashes and slow-loading pages.”, said Leonardo Silva, the CTO and Head of Product at Hello MOOD
Recognizing the need for expert guidance, Hello MOOD sought a solution that could handle the expected surge in traffic during their upcoming 4/20 sale, the most important day of the year in terms of sales, and beyond as the company continued to scale.
- Losing out on sales due to poor site performance and lack of scalability
- Impending 4/20 sale and peak in traffic
- Complex self-hosted setup was hard to manage and keep updated, while underperforming
- Marketing campaigns rendered ineffective due to poor site responsiveness
- Slow-loading pages and near-constant crashes
- Process requests taking up to thirty seconds
- Adding more hosting resources proved ineffective and an additional expense for no benefit
Hello MOOD is a super young company – in fact, they only hit the market in August 2022 and have been growing quickly. Over the course of a regular month in early 2023, the Hello Mood site typically experienced 20-40k orders per month, alongside a significantly larger volume of visitors.
This growth should’ve been cause for celebration, but Hello MOOD quickly noticed that their eCommerce site couldn’t handle the ever-increasing influx of traffic – it just wasn’t built with scalability in mind. The original website was self-hosted on a reliable service that’s incredibly intricate – and one that requires careful management. Hosting directly cuts out the middleman, but its complexity can hinder site growth if it isn’t properly managed and adapted specifically to the eCommerce site’s exact needs.
So, Hello MOOD had a real dilemma on their hands. Business was booming, growth was on the incline, and the team had plans to expand further – but how could they achieve any of this if the site couldn’t handle its current load?
Enter Saucal. Hello MOOD reached out to the team, explaining that their business was scaling rapidly, but their site was holding them back. In fact, the average process time for a checkout request was sitting at thirty seconds.
Obviously, that’s far from ideal! Kostas Seresiotis, Lead Developer at Saucal, elaborated further:
“The slower the transaction, the higher the risks of losing sales. Those slow transactions reduce site capacity because of the resources they occupy, while also frustrating the user, who might quit the sale. Occupied site resources also have a knock-on effect, since less people can access the site and check out, ultimately losing more sales.”
Things get even dicier when you factor in that Hello MOOD was handling up to ten orders per minute – that’s ten orders, all going through the same thirty-second ordeal, placing a huge demand on resources and ramping up customer frustration.
Saucal’s veteran tech experts deduced that while the site’s coding and plugins could be improved, simply switching to the Saucal custom managed WooCommerce hosting stack (and barely touching the original code) would already be a massive win for Hello MOOD. Saucal’s custom stack is built on top of Convesio’s high-availability hosting solution: an undefeatable combination of forces built specifically for this type of scenario.
Why would this help? Because while most managed WooCommerce hosting solutions out there are generic in their configuration, to satisfy the widest reach of potential clients, Saucal’s proprietary configuration solution is crafted to be specifically optimized for WooCommerce, based on the team’s vast knowledge and experience dealing with high-volume, high-stakes sites. This makes the whole difference in how server resources are allocated and used, directly translating to better performance for both shoppers and website owners. The Saucal team worked extensively with Convesio to bring this unique product to life, and are confident that there literally is nothing like it which can deliver in the same way for sites like Hello MOOD’s.
Performance wasn’t Hello MOOD’s only issue, however; time was a major concern. The company needed the performance issues and capacity bottlenecks resolved before a massive sales event – namely, the annual 4/20 celebration, which was only 2 short weeks away!
A quick turnaround
Hello MOOD were expecting a massive surge in customers and orders on 4/20 – which should’ve had the team buzzing with excitement. However, they already harbored concerns that the site couldn’t meet their regular demand, let alone a big sales event.
“Resolving our site’s capacity issues before the 4/20 sale was crucial for us. It’s a huge day in our calendar and draws a massive influx of traffic; we couldn’t afford any hiccups. This was our top priority: the event was only two weeks away though, so the stakes were very high!”, said Leonardo Silva, the CTO and Head of Product at Hello MOOD.
Hello MOOD had tried everything they could to alleviate site strain by adding resources to their self-hosted setup; they increased RAM, increased processing resources, and spent plenty of time (and even more money) to make their remedies work. On paper, it was a sensible solution – but in reality, it just didn’t work.
Ultimately, the Hello MOOD team realized they weren’t exactly sure why the site was underperforming, despite having highly technical teams who knew WordPress and infrastructure operations inside out. They needed WooCommerce expertise, and were even open to switching hosts or servers if it meant resolving the issue, as adding more processing power wasn’t the way to go.
Saucal stepped in to provide that expert guidance, recommending migrating the Hello MOOD setup to their own proprietary managed WooCommerce stack, which was built specifically to tackle high-volume, high-traffic sites using WooCommerce, as they were confident it would provide the right solution.
Hello MOOD’s poor scalability impacted the entire business in different ways, too. For example, it hindered the team’s ability to leverage Facebook marketing as effectively as they’d like. They had already invested significant money into their Facebook ads to reach new customers and cement their brand as the go-to hub for delta-8 products – and it had worked!
But there was a problem: The marketing campaign ads generated a massive influx of traffic that the Hello MOOD site just couldn’t keep up with. So, the team had no choice but to turn off Facebook ads entirely. This setback meant fewer people could discover their business and that their financial investment was wasted. What’s more, Hello Mood had already been penalized by Facebook for not being able to handle traffic and couldn’t risk it happening again.
Hello MOOD was determined to turn the situation around. They needed an updated system that was robust enough to process incoming traffic, allowing them to run Facebook ads without constantly flipping them on and off to mitigate strain.
So, the scene was set; Saucal had just a few weeks to make a major migration happen – and all without impacting the site’s uptime or disrupting regular business, while being able to handle more and more potential customers through unlocked marketing.
“Being self-hosted means that Hello MOOD handled everything themselves – the server was like a blank page they were writing on. But that’s simply not enough: they were missing the knowledge of what it would take to make a WooCommerce site like theirs perform at its best. They needed a more structured and WooCommerce-specialized solution, one built specifically for WooCommerce, not generic hosting.” Sam Gomes, Head of Business Development at Saucal, explained.
Tackling such a high-traffic site presented a tantalizing challenge for the Saucal team. Moreover, because Hello MOOD used a specialized, custom-developed framework on WordPress, additional work was required to ensure compatibility and support on the Saucal platform.
Saucal’s Managed WooCommerce solution was certainly the right fit, and the team was confident it would provide the expected results, but the migration process needed to be meticulously planned to ensure it went off without a hitch. Saucal considered factors like the server’s ability to handle traffic and spikes, bringing on board their hosting partners, Convesio, to help out and plan ahead. This troubleshooting proved crucial, seeing as even a small amount of downtime during migration could have serious knock-on consequences for Hello MOOD, given their consistently high volume of orders.
The migration process
Planning and preparation
A tight deadline and a high-traffic site migration meant that the Saucal team had to get creative and do some seriously smart prioritizing.
“We had a very precise goal to achieve,” said Luciana Varela, Saucal’s Product Strategist. “and for that to happen, we needed to focus on pinpointing and completing the tasks that would actively push us towards our goal most efficiently, and prioritize them hard above everything else.”
Migrating immediately would solve the issue of the self-hosted server management complexity and move Hello MOOD to a hosting service with structure and a pre-configured WooCommerce-specific environment that’d optimize the site’s performance. It’d also rack up wins for speed and scalability, allowing Saucal to lay a solid foundation for Hello MOOD’s success, address the immediate challenges stifling their growth, and set the stage for the impending sale.
Plotting the solution
As you might expect, the migration process had its own unique challenges, and getting every detail right is critical. Saucal’s extensive expertise and knowledge was crucial here. They perfected the migration planning process, creating a smooth step-by-step journey that handled the migration itself while addressing any underlying technical blockers along the way. For Hello MOOD, the first step in this process was conducting a test migration to proactively identify and address issues, mitigate risks, and ensure that the migration was done in a flash.
To get things started, the Hello MOOD code base was moved to the Saucal servers, a replica site was created, and Saucal ran detailed load testing and assessments of the site’s estimated capacity. The process went into minute detail, simulating artificial customers to gauge how many orders the site could handle per minute while checking its performance every step of the way and emulating what would happen during the 4/20 sales.
Armed with this information, Saucal was able to confidently create the environment which would work best for Hello MOOD, crafting bespoke specifications for them where needed, and adjusting the new purpose-built stack to provide the best performance and scalability.
“Having deep access to the server settings allowed us to engineer a WooCommerce-focused stack, and ultimately offer an optimized solution for Hello MOOD”, Sam said. “All of our configurations and customizations were thought from scratch with eCommerce-specific needs in mind, which proved key for the success of the store’s migration and the immediate scalability capabilities they needed”
Once Saucal were confident that the site was performing well in the testing environment, the team proceeded with the real migration with a few clear goals: improved performance and scalability.
Completing the migration
Hello MOOD’s site, like all sites, is made up of various components, including custom code, plugins, integrations, media files, and a very large database. To keep things moving quickly, Saucal started moving over some of the files the day before the main migration, and even pre-configured the SSL certificates. This set the scene for the big day.
Saucal gave Hello MOOD a heads-up that there’d be a media freeze 24 hours before the migration, advising the team not to upload any new images or files. When migration day arrived, Saucal implemented a controlled downtime window and put the Hello MOOD site into maintenance mode, taking it offline temporarily to move the database.
By limiting the downtime to only what was necessary for the database migration, Saucal significantly minimized the overall migration time and kept disruptions to a minimum. This approach also gave the Saucal team space to deal with any unexpected issues that sometimes crop up, mitigating them effectively and efficiently. After quick, well-planned tests to ensure everything was working exactly the way it should, the site went back live successfully, immediately delivering a performance boost from the get-go.
“The Saucal team was under a lot of pressure to deliver: minimal downtime, high traffic and a short deadline meant the stakes were very high. They not only rose to the challenge: they superseded our expectations, managing each aspect of the project to a level of detail which gave us the results we were looking for, at speed”, said Leonardo Silva, the CTO and Head of Product at Hello MOOD.
Hello MOOD’s partnership with Saucal proved to be a transformative experience. Even though they were an experienced, highly technical team working on a customized, high-power self-hosted setup, the intricacies of getting WooCommerce right at scale proved elusive. Saucal’s expert team quickly overcame the barriers with smart prioritization and a speedy migration to a tech stack they had all the confidence would give the results they needed. Hello MOOD received the best solution: their site, hosted on a platform that could handle their evolving needs, gained increased capacity right out of the box, with the right technical specifications required to keep the site running smoothly! Finally, they had a site that’d provide them with a stable platform for growth.
“We’re more confident in our site now, thanks to its increased capacity, and we don’t have any hesitation about pushing for our growth targets! Saucal’s expertise also alleviated the technical strain we were experiencing with our previous self-hosted solution. Saucal’s quick migration, unique expertise in WooCommerce, custom stack, and high responsiveness have freed our internal dev team up to enable them to focus on other pressing needs and get on with other business priorities, with the assurance that the site will continue to perform. It’s fantastic that Saucal are here for Hello MOOD!”, said Leonardo Silva, the CTO and Head of Product at Hello MOOD.
Working with Saucal also resolved Hello MOOD’s technical challenges and alleviated the stress of managing their own infrastructure. They found the right collaborators who became an integral part of their team – and having the right people, with the right knowledge and capacity to optimize the booming site, was precisely what Hello MOOD needed.
The successful migration to a scalable platform marks a turning point for Hello MOOD. The first clear indication of the success was the 4/20 sale, which exceeded their expectations and delivered massively on their goals. Now, the company can look forward to expanding their customer base, ramping up their marketing campaigns, and planning future 4/20 sales without worrying whether or not the site can keep up with their blazing ambitions!
- WooCommerce-specific setup which uses less power but runs more efficiently
- Ability to handle much more traffic and simultaneous transactions without losing sales
- Server response times boosted by up to 57%
- Hands-off, stable and trustworthy hosting which gives results
- Zero server management time spent by the Hello MOOD team
- … all delivered in less than two weeks!
The Saucal team was under a lot of pressure to deliver: minimal downtime, high traffic and a short deadline meant the stakes were very high. They not only rose to the challenge: they superseded our expectations, managing each aspect of the project to a level of detail which gave us the results we were looking for, at speedLeonardo Silva, CTO and Head of Product at Hello MOOD.