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A Global Headless Journey

Iconic retailer taps Astound to unify its multi-brand ecommerce system

BUSINESS
ENVIRONMENT

Established in 1899, VF Corporation is one of the world’s leading lifestyle apparel, footwear, and accessories retailers. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, its portfolio comprises 13 iconic brands, including Vans, The North Face, Dickies, Timberland, and Supreme, which the company acquired in December 2020, complementing its diverse offering of innovative outdoor and activity-based lifestyle and workwear brands.

CHALLENGE

With D2C ecommerce on the rise, the company aimed to transform its digital experience and develop a more customer-centric selling approach at scale. VF had a business need to invest in its digital capabilities to create a unique ecommerce destination for each of its brands. However, as a global enterprise, VF had multiple brands on multiple platforms, including Magento and WebSphere. To achieve its goals, the company determined a replatform would help consolidate its multiple ecommerce engines. The new architecture would also need to afford VF more flexibility and control over its ecommerce structure and prevent third-party vendor constraints.

STRATEGY

VF selected Astound Commerce for the Salesforce expertise it needed to execute a multi-site platform migration. Our experts presented a sound, future-forward strategy just as the COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect and teams began adapting to collaborating via Zoom. To support the company’s consolidated ecommerce efforts (referred to as VF Commerce 1.5), we recommended establishing a new robust headless reference application (or RefApp) to give each VF brand more creative and business flexibility while managing governance and efficiencies that result from a shared back-end architecture. The headless approach would give each VF brand the ability to focus on its ecommerce business while IT teams adhere to best practices on the back end, ensuring faster time to market.

The RefApp, composed of one global codebase that provides more autonomy to regional developers, would serve as VF’s platform, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud as the pure back-end system and ecommerce engine. MuleSoft (an API-driven systems architecture providing a gateway layer) and CoreMedia’s content management system (CMS) would also be integrated, with performance, security, and automation testing streams all working in parallel. VF’s new ecommerce system would be rolled out in an incremental three-phased minimum viable product (MVP) approach to reduce technical dependencies and overall risk and speed up time to market.

EXECUTION

Astound began by creating an MVP by leveraging the Vans Canada site that was migrated to the new VF Commerce 1.5 RefApp and would now serve as the foundation for its consolidated digital commerce system across brands and the organization. All commerce pages were developed on Vue Storefront with the shopping cart, checkout process, and My Account pages created on Commerce Cloud. Key third-party integrations included Marketing Cloud, Adyen (payment and fraud solutions provider), Salsify (product information management), Fiserv and Givex gift cards, a product configurator, and IBM Sterling order management system (OMS) to operationalize new business work streams while integral areas of content were developed within and established by CoreMedia. Vans Canada’s new site launched in May 2021, with Astound providing 24-hour support during the launch.

As performance, security, and automation testing continued, Phase 2 of the project kicked off, focused on extending the VF Commerce 1.5 RefApp to support an MVP launch of Vans US by building on the pivotal work of Vans Canada. Merchandising capabilities and the shopping cart, checkout, and My Account pages were now powered by a Salesforce V2 Commerce API. Complete the Look APIs were featured using Salesforce’s dynamic AI technology, Einstein. With custom functionality tailored to suit the US market, the Vans US site went live in March 2022.

The final phase of VF’s transformation was marked by an ecommerce architecture that is now 100 percent headless, with continued rollouts of its most valuable platform, now referred to as Canvas. Vans and The North Face brands have both launched in the US and Canada, with Timberland slated to launch next in these countries. VF’s future-forward RefApp includes additional systems integrations to support regional markets and can deploy more storefront features as developed. In our ongoing partnership, we continue to collaborate with VF on its digital roadmap for the future and offer site monitoring and round-the-clock support.

“Astound has been an instrumental part of a major accomplishment under some challenging circumstances. Not only is this a huge success for VF, but we are also breaking new ground in the creation and deployment of the future of ecommerce. Looking behind us, I see a challenging path that we managed to surmount thanks to grit, tenacity, and industry-leading expertise. Looking ahead, I am hopeful that we will continue to work together to make an impact, both for VF and within the world.”

—Velia Carboni, Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Technology Officer, VF Corporation

RESULTS

Today, VF Corporation has a unified global ecommerce system using a headless architecture approach with more control to select best-in-class systems (ecommerce engine, CMS, OMS, and so on), customized into a solution that meets its specific business needs. VF’s headless architecture brings enormous levels of flexibility and diversification to its enterprise. The new innovative platform provides faster iterative capabilities and more-agile release management. And best of all, it’s future-proof, modular, collaborative, and extensible—perfect for scaling its business to new heights.

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