The ecommerce difference:
Putting UX at the heart of a modern retail strategy
Space.NK’s online presence no longer reflected the brand’s ideals. The website template was four years old, had not been updated since launch, and was built on an old version of Demandware that limited the level of personalisation the luxury beauty boutique could offer its customers. In September 2015, as the contract with its previous SI partner came to a close, Space.NK opted to take a new approach that would overhaul its online presence and dramatically improve the user experience.
It was at this stage Astound Commerce came on board to handle the Demandware migration and website redesign, working in collaboration with Space.NK’s team to help the brand take advantage of the latest ecommerce technology and features Demandware can offer, and to replicate the values of its in store experience for customers online.
“THE ASTOUND/SPACE.NK PROJECT LED TO A 50% REDUCTION IN SITE LOAD TIMES, AN INCREASE IN CONVERSIONS, AND THE INTRODUCTION OF SEVERAL ENHANCED FEATURES TO IMPROVE THE ONLINE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE. THE ENTIRE PROJECT WAS DELIVERED IN JUST THREE MONTHS - THE QUICKEST SITE MIGRATION OF ITS KIND.”TERRY HUNTERMANAGING DIRECTOR AT ASTOUND COMMERCE LTD
Space.NK, the leading luxury beauty boutique, started business in 1993 with a single store in London’s Covent Garden. Since then, it has expanded into an internationally respected brand with a number of physical stores across the UK and US, all supported by a significant online presence.
One of the key factors for Space.NK’s success, and a principle that has underpinned the company since its creation, was the desire to offer consumers a highly tailored shopping experience, combined with access to the finest and most innovative products sourced from all over the world. However, while Space.NK’s in store presence has always met this high standard, by offering a personalised approach, its website was not necessarily delivering the same experience for its customers.
In September 2015, as the contract with its previous SI partner drew to a close and the brand was in a position to explore a new approach to ecommerce, Space.NK recognised its online store needed to offer more.
This was important not only to reflect the brand’s ideals and create a more stable platform to grow its international business on, but also to streamline the customer experience, drive an increase in conversions, and improve the website personalisation engine.
With Space.NK running four separate iterations of its website – UK and US versions, plus mirror sites for mobile and tablet users in each geography – the brand wanted to condense its online presence into a single platform, built on a SGX template and designed to be responsive from the ground up. It was at this stage that Astound Commerce came on board.
GETTING THE USER EXPERIENCE RIGHT
It was clear that Space.NK’s website was in need of a refresh. But it also needed a migration to the latest version of Demandware, so the brand could take advantage of the latest digital commerce technology and position itself as a leading omnichannel player. “We needed a partner that could understand our needs and make our vision a reality, but could also deliver the project quickly,” said Jez Wilson, Head of ecommerce Development at Space.NK.
Space.NK had devised its own SGX template to be used, and wanted to consolidate it’s four separate iterations of its website into one single platform.
“This approach was purposely taken to meet Space.NK’s immediate needs, but also to give more flexibility for rolling out future updates and enhancements, thereby ensuring the brand can remain at the cutting edge of ecommerce going forward.”
Combining a Demandware migration with the full website redesign also made it possible to introduce new ecommerce functionality to the Space.NK website to further improve the user experience for its growing customer base. Upgrades included new enhanced searching functionality and using active data sets to give Space.NK’s online customers the same personalised and tailored shopping experience they’ve come to expect in store, together with geo targeting to support the brand’s international growth efforts.
“PART OF INTRODUCING THE NEW WEBSITE TEMPLATE AND INTRODUCING A NEW SINGLE ONLINE PRESENCE INVOLVED ASTOUND MIGRATING SPACE.NK ONTO THE DEMANDWARE SITE GENESIS 2.0 PLATFORM.”TERRY HUNTERMANAGING DIRECTOR AT ASTOUND COMMERCE LTD
Going into the project, it was clear from the beginning that the delivery window was narrow and time would be an issue. Space.NK required the new ecommerce platform to be rolled out within four months. An international brand of Space.NK’s size could not afford to be in a transitional period for too long, and its current website wasn’t reflecting the company’s ideals. Space.NK needed the new online platform to be up and running as soon as possible, which required the Astound development team to streamline the migration progress and work in close collaboration with Space.NK’s team in a series of development ‘sprints’.
To make this a reality, Astound’s development team worked closely with Space.NK to ensure the site met the exact specifications and any issues or problems were identified as soon as they arose. Astound’s team of industry professionals were always available to Space.NK as needed, which helped to further streamline the development process and ensure both parties were clear on the direction being taken.
Another considerable challenge faced during the project was a number of issues created by the legacy code left over from the preceding SI team that was responsible for Space.NK’s existing ecommerce platform. The old SI team had also created an environment that made it impossible to introduce the latest Demandware functionality due to the out-dated website template. This was the catalyst that led Space.NK to create a new version with SGX support from the ground up.
The new template was developed internally. Its implementation was then managed by Astound as part of the migration process. The result is a new-look website that is completely responsive, built upon a far more advanced and technically capable Demandware deployment.
“THE PROJECT WAS A COMPLETE SUCCESS, NOT ONLY IN TERMS OF THE RESULTS IT DELIVERED BUT ALSO THE SPEED AT WHICH ASTOUND MADE THIS HAPPEN”JEZ WILSONHEAD OF ECOMMERCE DEVELOPMENT AT SPACE.NK
Astound wasn’t just an integration partner for us,” said Jez Wilson, Head of commerce Development at Space.NK. “The development team gave us support and advice too, particularly
in relation to how a native SGX template could be used to enhance ownership and control over the brand site and, crucially, access to the very latest Demandware capabilities.”
As a direct result of the website redesign and Demandware migration, Space.NK saw conversions increase across the board – led by a dramatic improvement to the overall user experience.
For example, shortly after completion of the project, Space.NK held a one-day sale. Within a single one hour period on the day of the sale, website conversion rates peaked at a staggering 16.2 per cent.
“Astound didn’t just meet the extremely tight project time frame, it improved upon them. The entire project, from initial RFP to delivery, took closer to three months to complete rather than the expected four.”
Astound began work in November 2015. The new Space.NK ecommerce platform and website went live in February 2016, making this project the quickest full site migration of its kind.
Wilson added: “Usually you would expect teething problems with a site migration of this size, especially when combining it with a full redesign and condensing four separate sites into one, but that didn’t happen. The new site did not fall over or experience downtime at any point during the transition. It’s also very common for a new platform to cause a severe dip in conversions during the initial adjustment period, but again we saw quite the opposite.”
The new ecommerce platform reduced load times for the Space.NK website by 50 per cent. It also improved stability and speed by the nature of having a single online presence rather than four different sites, and in doing so enhanced the user experience on mobile and tablet devices. This supported the overall uptick in conversions found by Space.NK following the migration.
THE ASTOUND COMMERCE DIFFERENCE
Working with Astound felt like a true partnership,” said Wilson. “We originally chose to partner with Astound based on the company’s proven track record with other major brands, but we got so much more than we bargained for. The development team listened to what we actually wanted and ensured we were kept in the loop at every stage of the process. Astound went above and beyond to meet our deadline and they are truly passionate about ecommerce, which certainly shines through in the quality of their work.”
He continued: “The Space.NK website overhaul is an important step for the next stage of our international business growth. Astound made this quick and painless, and the company’s expertise in this sector gave us the confidence to grant Astound a great deal of license when it came to how they approached the project.”
Commenting on the completed project Terry Hunter, UK Managing Director at Astound Commerce, said: “It has been a pleasure working with the Space.NK team to deliver an innovative new website that takes advantage of the latest ecommerce technology to enhance the customer experience. We are extremely proud of the result, especially when you consider the tight development timeframe.”