Case study: Xoom (PayPal)

Xoom deploys content in minutes, not weeks

The popular digital money transfer and remittance provider Xoom gained access to 99 million U.S. users when they were acquired by PayPal in 2015. Xoom now supports payments to 44 countries around the world.

Growing from startup scale

Expanding to more countries requires a lot of work for Xoom, including content. The team released much of its content on a home-grown CMS prior to the acquisition. “The developer that created the whole internal CMS system left,” says Xoom Senior Product Manager Ann Lau. “It was a code base that nobody really knew how to support.”

In the early days, Xoom hired a Content Manager to manage the content on their website. She became the CMS expert, and was the gatekeeper for all content on the official site. After years of service, Xoom’s Content Manager announced something big – her retirement. Now more than ever, the engineering team would need to move to a solution that was easy to use and maintain for anyone.

Expanding Xoom’s global footprint with Contentful

Fortunately, Xoom’s engineering team was already making the move to Contentful. “When you have something new like this, there's lot of training that needs to happen, as well as new processes that need to be discussed and implemented,” says Lau. “We released something in production in December of last year though, and people are definitely seeing benefits.”

From Guyana to Finland, each country Xoom supports has its own static page. The team moved existing country pages over to Contentful, and soon began using it to display pages for every new country they supported as well.

Xoom also moved mobile flag images to Contentful. “As we add more countries, the number of images increases. The app was getting bigger and bigger,” says Lau. “We needed a solution to make it more lightweight, so the Mobile Team decided to serve the images from the Contentful Images API.”

Product dictates content releases…not the other way around

Prior to using Contentful, the Xoom team had to wait for a content release to launch or make changes to a new offering. These were scheduled once a week but due to CMS dependencies such as bugs in other applications or failed builds, these releases could be delayed two or three weeks.

Xoom can now update content on the site as quickly as 30 minutes using Contentful. “Once I tell the team the benefits, they get it, especially Product Managers that are in charge of updating content and trying to get content out there on a timely basis,” says Lau. “They really see the value because then they just don't have to wait, which is what they had to do before.”

Newly found QA and UX superpowers

When Lau showed the QA Team that content could be published with the click of a green button, they were skeptical. “Everybody was used to the old way. They expected content to go through all of the normal cycles that code goes through.”

Using Contentful, Xoom gained the features of a CMS, without the maintenance that often ended up halting production releases. The new workflow provided more freedom for teams to correct any inconsistencies on the site. Lau set up Custom Roles and Permissions, which allowed them to easily add people in the system without compromising on quality or consistency. Once, a Product Manager recognized that a URL on a recently deployed web page was broken. Rather than waiting an entire cycle to fix it, she fixed the link herself, ran it through QA, and had it shipped within the hour.

The Xoom UX team has also seen benefits from the switch. “There were many images that had not been updated on the site because they weren’t considered a priority,” says Lau. “It would be a priority for them but not for everybody else. They struggled to get any developer to work on them. But now that the images are served from Contentful, they can just swap out the images themselves. It is so much easier for them because they don't need a developer.”

Over 30 trained users and counting

Contentful adoption didn’t happen overnight at Xoom. Fortunately, they attended the training sessions available in their Enterprise plan. “We had a bunch of folks attend Contentful Certification Training in San Francisco,” said Lau. “Engineering and Product took away different things, but they all definitely learned something. It was very helpful.”

Lau is optimistic about the potential of Contentful at Xoom.

The business benefits are huge. We don't have to spend so many resources now just getting content out. It allows us to use our development resources much more wisely now.

Want to learn more?