How Deckers Used a Mobile Application to Build Customer Traffic

By William Atkinson  |  Posted 11-09-2011

Deckers Outdoor Corporation, based in Goleta, Ca., designs, manufactures and markets function-oriented footwear for high-performance outdoor, sports and recreational uses. Brands include Teva, UGG Australia, and Simple Shoes.

The company wanted a mobile application deployment for consumers that would tie directly into its e-commerce platform. The goal? To provide a seamless mobile and tablet experience to serve customers, whether they are shopping in a Deckers store or at home looking for products.

Deckers began by studying its consumers and how they use their mobile devices while shopping, as well as when they are researching brands. "When going through the planning stages, it is important to understand how consumers are going to connect with your brand through the mobile channel," says John Kalinich, VP of e-commerce. In other words: How are they going to research the products? What information do they want to learn about the brand when they are using their mobile devices? Is it based on product reviews? Store locations? Features and benefits about the product?

What did the customer analysis process ultimately uncover for Deckers? "Our research showed us that we needed to be able to address changing on-line trends and to serve its customers across all touchpoints," says Kalinich. To do so, the company elected to launch its multiple brand sites in the U.S. and internationally on the Demandware Commerce platform. Deckers began its first migration from its legacy platform in October 2010. Over the following 11 months, it launched three domestic and five international sites on Demandware. "We are planning to launch an additional four to five sites in the first half of 2012," he says.

"As we planned our Demandware implementation, we designed a roll-out that included features of the technology that would allow us to do this." For example, Deckers is utilizing advanced merchandising features to market the right products to the right people. It is also to staying in touch with customers by using real-time monitoring and the technology's search reporting features to identify unarticulated needs.

In terms of consumers using mobile devices while actually in a Deckers store, what the company found to be most important to them is the seamless interaction. "When a consumer is in one of our brick-and-mortar stores, and they want to look on their mobile device about a product, they get the same information on their device that they're getting in the store, plus a little bit more information, such as consumer reviews," says Kalinich.

According to Kalinich, the roll-out was large and complex. "The transformation to our business that resulted from migrating our sites from our legacy platform to Demandware touched almost all points of the organization, from our Call Center representatives, to our management team, to our web designers," he says. In addition, the IT team had to develop middleware for the implementation. The main challenge here was the sheer level of effort required within the short timeframe that the company set forth to integrate its back-end systems, such as order management, payment gateway, e-mail engine, and pricing & inventory feeds. "The IT group made an impressive push and was fully dedicated to ensuring that this was accomplished for each launch," says Kalinich. Deckers divided the project into several phases and components.

"We also set forth aggressive timelines for the migration of our current sites to the Demandware platform. We learned that this required a high degree of coordination and dedication across multiple departments." For example, Yul Vanek, the company's VP of IT, participated as a member of the project steering committee. His insights regarding management and direction of large-scale projects were extremely valuable to the project team, according to Kalinich. "In addition, he was instrumental in driving IT's development of the middleware software that was necessary to connect Demandware with Deckers' Oracle platform.

Kalinich adds that the implementation would simply not have been possible without the IT team. "We have a group of talented programmers in our organization who were involved from beginning to end, from platform selection to site launch," he says.

Currently, the UGG Australia, Ahnu, and Tsubo sites are on the Demandware platform. Deckers is currently in the process of migrating Teva and its recent acquisition, Sanuk, as well.

In addition, Deckers is conducting basic measurements on effectiveness, such as looking at the number of visitors, conversion rates, and paths through the mobile site. "Going forward, we want to measure more engagement factors," says Kalinich. Examples include: How are consumers using the mobile site? How are those engagement factors driving brand loyalty? Is the company building mobile sites that help consumers understand the brand?

While Kalinich declined to reveal the cost of the project, he says Deckers is pleased with results so far. "We are seeing consumers visit the sites more often and spend more time on the sites," he notes. Currently, Deckers has almost 3 million monthly visitors to its Demandware sites. "We are also seeing higher conversion rates," Kalinich says. "As one example, during our most recent site launch of UGGAustralia.com, conversion improved 6 percent week over week. On the business side, we are seeing a decrease in the amount of time and resources that it takes to launch new sites, implement new integrations, and support new acquisitions and our emerging brands."