Robert Kneschke - Fotolia
Swedish online men’s fashion retailer Stayhard said the biggest challenge online is not getting a customer through “the door”, but translating their browsing into actual, profitable purchases.
The company’s answer to this has been to use cloud-based sales optimising software to provide a more personalised retail experience.
Since 2005, Stayhard has grown from a two-man startup in a small storage room into a 150m SEK (£13.1m) operation with customers in 28 countries.
But until five years ago, the online retailer was primarily managing its campaigns and product catalogue manually and started to hit the limits of what it could do with its eight-member team.
“It was very manual. We wanted to do a lot but we didn’t have the time, the backlog was just increasing,” said Johan Davidsson, COO at Stayhard.
The retailer looked for a product to enable more automation and make the online shopping experience more bespoke to each of its customers.
The company tried out several merchandising tools before settling on cloud-based software Apptus eSales from Swedish firm Apptus. The software uses machine learning and behavioural data to predict the right products to display for a customer and personalise the product assortment across search, navigation and recommendations.
“We had a lot of problems with our search engine and our product catalogue,” said Davidsson. “The [decisive factor] for us was that eSales could solve all these problems.”
Stayhard chose to do the implementation with its own developers. The sales software was integrated with the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and content management system-based (CMS-based) e-commerce platform and was up and running in a few months.
Davidsson credits the smooth execution to its developers close understanding of the company’s business. He argued that for any system deployment to be successful, it needs to be rooted in the company’s business strategy, instead of relying solely on the capabilities of the software.
The key challenge for Stayhard has been to make the sales software easy and practical for its employees, ensuring there are no bottlenecks in the merchandising process.
“[The merchandisers] should not need to have any IT competences,” said Davidsson. “We have built in all the power of eSales into the CMS backend where merchandisers feel at home so they just need to work with one system.”
Stayhard has also had a role to play in the development of the software by becoming a pilot user for new features.
One of the latest additions is eSales’ ability to optimise Stayhard’s online assortment and merchandising strategy either for high conversion or high revenue goals. According to Davidsson, a two-month test of optimising its sales for revenue helped the company to boost its profits by 1.5%.
But the biggest benefits Davidsson believes the cloud software has added to Stayhard is being able to manage several campaigns simultaneously and gain greater understanding of real-time campaign and content performance.
The software automatically tests promotional content and gives Stayhard detailed reports on what does and doesn’t work for the retailer and its customers.
“We have six people [in marketing] now, but they are [able to do] much more work than eight people did five years ago,” said Davidsson. ... ... ... ... ...