Apparel and accessory brands have a unique opportunity to build their businesses by not only developing distribution partnerships with retailers but also selling their own items online.
Despite being having its handbags, wallets and clutches sold in 600 departments stores, including Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor, Hobo has developed a successful direct-to-consumer e-Commerce business.
Hobo’s e-Commerce business has grown 25% year over year, and the team “hopes to continue the trend of growth into 2015,” according to Beth Chaffin, Marketing Manager for the brand. To fuel this growth, Hobo recently re-launched its e-Commerce site on the WebLinc platform. Within six weeks of the launch, Hobo saw an 82% increase in transaction volume and a 59% increase in overall sales between 2013 and 2014.
“The web site has evolved through multiple redesign phases over the years and currently, our site is up to date, aligned with e-Commerce standards and just as good, if not better, than our competitors,” Chaffin said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Previously, Hobo’s e-Commerce platform and content management system were managed by a third-party. As a result, the retailer was hindered by long lead times anytime changes needed to be made to the site.
“This hindered us from promoting particular products in real-time situations as we always had to plan everything very far in advance,” Chaffin said. “For example, if we received press on a style, we couldn’t immediately capture sales based around that featured product.”
Making Moves In Mobile
The old e-Commerce site also was not mobile-friendly, which resulted in many missed opportunities and sales. In fact, mobile optimization was “a main reason we wanted to redesign and comprise of a responsive design,” Chaffin said. “When people tried to go to our site via a mobile device, they quickly left because it was a lot of clicking and manual zooming to see products. Shopping via mobile or tablet is becoming the new norm and we had to make updates in order to stay relevant and capitalize on those sales.”
Since launching the new site, Hobo has experienced significant growth in mobile sales (76%) and traffic (39%).
Hobo initially started working with WebLinc in the summer of 2013 and the entire re-launch process took approximately a year from design to execution, Chaffin reported. “During that year, we worked very closely with our account team at WebLinc throughout all phases of the project.”
Because Hobo was new to responsive web site design, “the guidance we received from our account team was critical to how we redesigned the web site,” Chaffin said. “We’ve already seen exciting gains from our mobile user segment.”
Beyond a new responsive design, the Hobo site touts a variety of features and capabilities designed to create a more enjoyable and compelling online shopping experience. For example, adding a cart abandonment email as well as enhanced user account features “have allowed us to provide customers with a more personalized shopping experience,” Chaffin said. “Customers with accounts can now complete checkout in two steps, manage their own returns and print off pre-paid return shipping labels, and build wish lists.”
Testing New Merchandising Strategies
Hobo also has implemented a variety of new merchandising strategies based on specific buyer profiles and preferences.
“Our special curated categories and filtering options present visitors with multiple ways to browse products, Chaffin said. “Whether they’re looking for a bag with a certain type of strap or leather, want to browse a selection of bags that match their wardrobe style, or want to select a bag and head straight to checkout, our new site provides a shopping experience tailored to each type of customer.”
Due to positive feedback from consumers via social media and service interactions, Hobo is investigating new ways to create an even more relevant experience.
“We’re looking into several ideas, including proactive chat support from our customer service team and interactive, editorial-style content,” Chaffin said. “Weaving our social media content throughout the shopping path has allowed us to get closer to our customers and we’re eager to further develop that channel.”
Regardless of the changes that need to be made to the web site, WebLinc will empower Hobo to make alterations based on consumer behaviors and preferences in a timely and efficient manner.
“We can easily segment and analyze customer behavior for insights in just a few clicks,” Chaffin explained, “which fuels more informed decisions for us for everything from inventory planning to site maintenance.”
Because the Hobo e-Commerce and marketing teams have more control over the e-Commerce site, the retailer easily can test different campaigns and messaging strategies.
“Because of the increased level of control we now have for the web site, the time it takes us to develop and release new content and ideas has gone from several weeks to a short few days,” Chaffin said. “Recently, we saw an opportunity to grow sales by offering a special one-day promotion to customers, and the opportunity was highly time-sensitive. We were able to develop the concept and marketing content, and then test and launch the promotion in two days. This same body of work would have taken us four to six weeks on our old platform.”