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Revenues Jump 35% With New Ecommerce Platform

SMB Retail by Angela Diffly
degraphic_oct16Upping Their Game

Downeast Basics is a 25-year-old family-owned and operated 60-chain store and online retailer headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah specializing in discount women’s fashion and furniture. As the business flourished, it sparked the owners to create in-house clothing and furniture lines targeted to their solid customer demographic. That’s when they decided it was time to invest in a new ecommerce platform that would represent the evolving brand in more dynamic ways, while offering customers a more engaging user experience.

“When I came on board two years ago, we were using a really clunky platform. It wasn’t very user friendly, and it wasn’t mobile responsive,” commented Brian Brooks, the company’s ecommerce manager. “I researched many ecommerce platforms. You name it; I’ve looked into it. Magento is a great platform, but it was cost prohibitive for us,” he said. They ultimately decided on Shopify because the costs were manageable and they got a beautifully-designed template that didn’t require intense coding to master. “The user-friendly interface was key for us. We don’t even need developers on staff to manage the site,” Brooks told us. Since Shopify is an open source platform, he could easily customize the template to build out the Downeast site, making it uniquely theirs.

“We’ve always had good, steady traffic to our site, but after launching on the Shopify platform last June, we saw a 35 percent increase in revenues,” said Amanda Apple, marketing director at Downeast Basics. “The user experience is much better. We’re seeing more customers browsing and purchasing through mobile, which is a huge part of where our business is today.” The other key metric they’ve noticed is a much lower bounce rate. Shoppers are staying longer and converting more since the site has a clean, easily navigable interface.

Downeast Main

Pay Day

When it comes to ecommerce payment acceptance, Downeast uses Authorize.net and PayPal (but not the Shopify gateway). Brooks told us he was looking forward to seeing how their mobile conversions increase as Apple Pay integrates with Shopify. “For a lot of companies our size, Apple Pay was not an option anytime soon, so it’s a big plus that Shopify updates the backend so regularly,” he added. Apple added that she sees a large percentage of customers opening Downeast emails on iPhones. When Apple Pay activates, those browsers can easily purchase inside the app, or even directly from the email promotion – which is great news for Downeast, since their email campaigns are very effective and one of their highest sources of revenue.

Director of engineering at Shopify Jason Normore commented that more than 60 percent of all checkouts initiated on Shopify stores come from mobile, but only 40 percent complete the purchase. Before Apple Pay came to the web, shoppers could only complete Apple Pay payments via mobile app. Shopify believes Apple Pay on the web will simplify checkouts, increasing the likelihood of more conversions. “Currently, online shoppers encounter a lot of friction when trying to purchase items on a mobile device,” said Normore. “Apple Pay can help provide consumers with seamless purchase experiences. Shopify’s mission has always been to enable our merchants to offer their customers the best experience, and that’s why the announcement of Apple Pay coming to the Web is so exciting. Now more than 275,000 small and medium-sized businesses are laying the groundwork for a better shopping experience on iPhone, iPad and Mac.”

Key Metrics

Shopify reporting metrics allow Downeast to monitor where traffic is coming from, bounce rates, conversion rates and add-to-cart rates. “We try and pull the majority of our information from Shopify, since we’ve found the reporting to be so accurate. We see that it syncs up with our Authorize.net numbers, so we know we’re looking at a real picture,” said Apple. The company uses Google Analytics to see traffic flow and social patterns. One of the unique metrics Brooks has been watching lately on the Shopify report is hour-to-hour revenues and traffic. “I’m seeing that we have customers shopping at night, with a huge up-tick in revenues from 8 to 11 pm. Those are likely moms who have put their kids to bed and then decide to do a little shopping in their downtime,” he said. Apple added that it’s easy for her to go into the backend at any moment and see inventory levels (drilling down by size, color, etc.), which is useful for timely promotions and also allows them to pass along valuable data to designers and budgeting teams.

Spaces and Places

With the Shopify platform, stores have unlimited bandwidth for multimedia, which is another big advantage for strong visual brands. Downeast launches a new collection every month using its in-house designer, which includes a lifestyle photo shoot, print catalog and online content refresh. “We’re very lucky to be based in Utah, where we have a beautiful natural backdrop for our photo shoots throughout the year. Two or three years ago, the trend was to show every detail of the clothing and now there’s more emphasis on how are people styling it in real life, which challenged us to consider how we want to move our product photography forward and stay modern,” commented Apple. The company recently launched another women’s clothing store and website called Hope Ave., where they’re getting more creative with lifestyle photography and product shots.

hope-ave-wpThe future looks bright for Downeast Basics. With 25 years under its fashionably-styled belt, 60 brick-and-mortar stores and a spin-off brand in the mix, smart technologies remain mission-critical. Migrating their ecommerce site to the Shopify platform has boosted business, and elevated their skyrocketing brand.