When it was preparing for Black Friday two years ago, FitFlop didn’t know if its website would be able to handle the volume of online consumer traffic.
“We didn’t have the confidence that we could drive the sales through it,” said Kevin O’Brien, global IT director for the UK-based footwear company. “We didn’t have the flexibility, the scalability, or the reliability.”
But come 2017, the company had a new technology infrastructure in place to support its growing B2C business. “Black Friday weekend was incredible for us. If you look at the increase in sales that we had over the previous year, it was four times as much,” O’Brien said. The revamped e-commerce solution boosted the company’s confidence to handle holiday traffic — and all the sales since then.
FitFlop started out making and selling sandals 11 years ago. Now it markets all kinds of footwear globally and has experienced strong growth in the past 18 months. The company has also been busy shifting its business model, selling directly to consumers rather than only through distributors like Bloomingdale’s and other high-end retail outlets.
But getting closer to customers around the world meant FitFlop needed to beef up its digital presence. The company needed a technology infrastructure that could provide customers with a great omni-channel experience, change quickly to support new trends and promotions, and respond to consumers’ growing demands.
Denise Fender, the global general manager of Digital at FitFlop, said, “We knew we wanted to internationalize and had a growing dot com channel. But we were predominately a wholesale brand.”
She explains that it was a long, arduous process to build campaigns or reach customers directly on the company’s previous platforms: “We were held back by our technology and weren’t able to develop or work in an agile way.”
Fender and O’Brien searched for a technology solution that could represent the brand in a visual way across multiple channels.
“We had a growing digital arm that needed to be supercharged,” Fender said. “We didn’t just want a technology that would sell product. We wanted a technology that would give us the ability to present our product in a way that was different for every market — a solution to help us visualize products that appealed to a more fashionable, trendy consumer.”
That solution was developed using SAP Commerce Cloud, a solution that provides personalized support to customers shopping via multiple channels. Working with SAP systems integrator partner Tacit Knowledge, FitFlop was able to create and launch its new e-commerce platform in six months and achieve ROI in just three.
“We selected SAP for a number of reasons. First was scalability, reliability, and, most importantly, the ability to internationalize very quickly. SAP gave us all those abilities,” said O’Brien. Second, he was impressed by the reports from customers who were already using the SAP Commerce solution. Finally, he was convinced that Tacit Knowledge was the right partner to help the company launch, customize, and maintain the SAP solution.
The results exceeded FitFlop’s expectations. According to Fender, the SAP commerce solution allowed the company to handle between four and five times more Black Friday traffic in 2017 than the previous year. In addition, FitFlop’s conversion rate doubled overnight.
“We could see on the site that we were getting a lot less customer churn, and that customers who added products to the basket were going through to conversion,” she said. Mobile conversions, in particular, jumped from 27 percent to 67 percent year-on-year, further boosting fourth quarter revenue and profit.
As an additional bonus, the management team can now add new front-end functionality quickly and easily. And this can be replicated across the company’s regional websites without impacting customer experience. Changes implemented on digital channels often now take weeks instead of months.
“The fact that we can do releases every two weeks means we’re able to bring newness to our customers — and the digital trading team gets the functionality they need to optimize every new promotion or sales campaign,” said O’Brien.
Since going live with SAP, there’s been a paradigm shift within the company, a new approach to how employees work, think, and behave that stretches from the CEO’s office to the factories in Asia. “It’s been an amazing change to see happen in such a very short space of time,” O’Brien said.
Similarly, Fender believes the new technology infrastructure has been the catalyst for a cultural change and helped transform the business to become ‘digital first.’
“I feel the SAP solution has given us a different path,” she said. “I believe we’re ahead of the curve doing things that perhaps our bigger competitors can’t do. Life before SAP Commerce was darker. We didn’t really see a future where we could grow quickly, but since then we know that the sky is the limit.”