How Cordial Tapped Cloudflare Workers to Power Through Black Friday

Black Friday is the biggest day of the year for retailers. But what if your customers are the retailers?

From user acquisition to sales promotions, personalized abandoned shopping cart campaigns and transactional shipping confirmations — the world of ecommerce is driven by 1:1 communications channels operating at tremendous scale.

One company that powers the customer engagement programs for some of the world’s leading brands is Cordial, a marketing automation platform built from the ground-up to deliver highly personalized messages via any content channel — including email, SMS, in-app notifications, and more. Unlike most marketing tools, Cordial empowers developers to customize the product to suit their needs, while maintaining an intuitive front-end that enables marketers to execute sophisticated, impactful orchestrations without the need for technical resources.

The Cloudflare Difference

In early 2018, Cordial switched to Cloudflare as its network provider. Cordial’s Platform Architect Daniel Smith says they saw remarkable improvements right out of the gate, explaining that “the immediate gain we got without having to do additional development was huge for us.”

By moving Cordial onto Cloudflare’s network, 80% of requests to Cordial’s servers were suddenly routed to Cloudflare, yielding major savings on bandwidth and performance. Better yet, by enabling Cloudflare’s Argo Smart Routing, Cordial saw its API server latency drop from an average response time of 650ms before Argo to 403ms the day after they enabled it — an improvement of over 35% on day one.

cordial image 1 argo enabled uncacheable

Uncacheable API Request Latency (lower is better)

cordial image 2 argo static

Static Content Latency (lower is better)

These gains became especially important as the biggest weekend of the year approached, bookended by Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Cordial isn’t a retail company, but its customers are — and Black Friday is the year’s annual do-or-die event. Online shoppers are impatient, and sluggish performance or a broken link can be enough to send them to a competitor. Cordial needs to be at the top of its game: it has to think like a retailer, anticipating and managing a massive traffic volume in the weeks leading up to Black Friday — and the deluge on the big day itself.

Cloudflare’s Content Delivery Network and Argo Smart Routing helped put Cordial on solid footing. But for the main event, Cordial turned to a powerful new tool: Cloudflare Workers.

Workers at the Ready

At the heart of Cloudflare Workers is a revolutionary concept: use the servers that make up Cloudflare's global cloud network — namely the machines nearest to each respective visitor — to execute sandboxed code without dedicated virtual machines or containers. By closing the distance between browsers and the machines processing their requests, Cloudflare Workers radically reduce latency, translating to big performance gains at a low cost.

In the run-up to Black Friday, Cordial built what Platform Architect Daniel Smith dubs a “stable of Workers”: dozens of mini-apps that the company is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. Each Worker is suited for a specific job, like shedding traffic that is likely junk, or routing certain kinds of requests to a particular server to reduce load during critical moments. The team also drafted a corresponding ‘game day’ document outlining which contingencies should invoke each Worker.

Finally, as Black Friday weekend swept the Internet, Cordial was ready — and with their stable of Workers in-hand, it sent millions of emails, text messages, and other correspondence without a hitch.

Looking Ahead

Cordial has also found additional innovative ways to put Cloudflare Workers to use. When one of its customers requested a feature — a way to generate and embed custom barcodes in customers’ emails — Cordial used Workers to develop a bespoke app. Using Rust, compiled to web assembly, Cordial’s Workers app generates and delivers a barcode image on-the-fly in Workers without needing to spin up any additional servers (try this link to see it in action). Better yet, Smith says that since deploying the app, the team rarely has to think about it.

“If it weren’t for Cloudflare Workers, we’d be managing another cluster of servers to run this microservice, which means additional maintenance costs and overhead. With Workers, we don’t have to worry about it.” — Daniel Smith, Cordial Platform Architect


A Barcode Generated On-the-Fly by Cordial's Workers App

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Key Results

• 80% of requests are now routed to Cloudflare servers, yielding major savings and performance gains

• Lowered API server latency over 35% on day one with Argo Smart Routing

• Built a stable of custom Cloudflare Workers to manage traffic demands in real-time

If it weren’t for Cloudflare Workers, we’d be managing another cluster of servers to run this microservice, which means additional maintenance costs and overhead. With Workers, we don’t have to worry about it.

Daniel Smith
Platform Architect, Cordial