“We had four months to do this otherwise we were going to be without a site completely because we weren’t allowed to use the one we had.” - Kristen Dillard, Principal Product Manager, Quicken
When Intuit sold off Quicken, the personal finance software company needed to become technologically independent from the massive, $5 billion corporation. Now, they have an autonomous site that can handle everything from automated marketing to live chat and payments at any scale.
Pushed out of the nest
Quicken sells its software to millions of customers every year, and its online shopping cart was about to be turned off in a matter of months. This turned out to be an opportunity because their existing setup left a lot to desire.
“Our marketing site and commerce site were very limiting. It took us at least two weeks to get campaigns and promotions out the door. The site itself was extremely slow—we’d have five second response times on it and customers were getting stuck. And everything that we did required developer resources.” - Kristen Dillard, Principal Product Manager, Quicken
4 months to make everyone happy
“We had four months to make [customer] care happy, to make finance happy, to make supply chain happy, to make the ops team happy, to make marketing happy.” - Kristen Dillard, Principal Product Manager, Quicken
We stepped in to help Kristen and the Quicken team sort through the priorities and what needed to be accomplished to ensure they would have a viable website when they took their first flight as an independent company.
“Untangling Quicken from Intuit was tricky, so we started by creating a tech roadmap to lay out every issue that needed to be addressed, from CMS needs to creating a better shopping cart, so that the Quicken team would understand what had to happen to build a totally independent site.” - Justin Emond, Third & Grove, CEO & Co-Founder
From there, we created the website and CMS, transferred over the entire support portal (and the 3,000 articles it contained), built a live chat function, and developed a better shopping experience.
Blending together perfection
Because the Quicken site needed both a hard-core CMS and a sturdy ecommerce operation that could handle a huge sales volume, we went for a hybrid approach: Drupal for the CMS and Magento 2 for ecommerce.
“The primary reason we chose to go with the headless approach is that the requirements in this case were really about a compelling content and customer driven experience. That’s where Acquia Drupal shines as a platform.” - Justin Emond, Third & Grove, CEO & Co-Founder
When users come to the site, they’re in Drupal, but the magic happening behind the scenes—complicated logic about fulfilling orders across multiple states, API decisions—is all Magento. Integrating the two means that the site can handle whatever complex tasks Quicken needs it to—now, or down the line.
The benefits were clear to us and aligned perfectly with the Quicken team’s goals:
Easier management. Drupal is used for all of the content hosting which makes it easy for the entire Quicken team to own rather than a few core developers.
Fast deployments. Instead of taking weeks for unique promotions, the marketing team can now execute ideas as fast as they can come up with them.
Better security. When you have a headless setup like this, you can put Magento entirely off the public internet because Drupal is the only system that needs to directly communicate to Magento.
Under the hood
Here’s the product page which is entirely served by Drupal to the end user. All of the marketing content is stored in Drupal so you get revision control, great media support, inline editing, all the experiences that the Marketing team likes. The pricing information is stored in Magento. And if you look in the top right, you can see the cart has zero products in it—that’s an API call to Magento too.
Here’s the shopping cart. It’s completely served by Drupal but most of the information here are API calls to Magento. With a setup like this, all of the marketing content is going to be easy to work with. The image and the price are stored in Magento. For Quicken, the images come from the merchandising team so it made sense to store that image in Magento.
A couple of months later...
The Quicken team now has a totally independent, ultra complex site that can handle its dynamic marketing needs and a massive sales volume—and still address any questions Quicken users might have.
“This is where I get to thank Justin, his team, and our internal team for all the hard work they did. Our site, during peak right now, has about 30,000 unique visitors per hour coming to the site and about 1,500 orders per hour. Our latency is less than a second for all the pages in the flow and our conversion rate—cart to completion—is up significantly from where it was previously. It’s about 70% which we’re pretty stoked about.” - Kristen Dillard, Principal Product Manager, Quicken
Aw shucks, Kristen. You 🤘.
If you’re thinking about doing a project like this, here are a couple tips which helped us:
Don’t skimp out on the discovery. Discovery is how you reduce risk in a project. You should have multiple people at the table—you have business at the table and you should have highly technical people leading the discussion. This leads to thoughtful analysis and dispassionate review of requirements and action items. When you go through this process in a disciplined and structured way, you’re going to have a massive reduction of risk in your project. When you don’t start with proper discovery, you’ve quadrupled your risk.
Solution over technology. Think about the best solution to the problem rather than the hottest technologies. We know what it's like to get excited about a technology's particular functionality but the key is to always remember that we have a solution to build rather than a technology to implement.