Military apparel manufacturer Alpha Industries takes to the web to serve up great shopping experiences for both customers and retail partners.
Picture a confident military aviator standing on the tarmac, ready for takeoff. Chances are this iconic hero would be wearing an Alpha Industries MA-1 flight jacket. Over the years the MA-1 and the M-65 field jacket were almost exclusively made by Alpha Industries for the military. This “rugged look” became internationally famous, the fashion world took notice, and these garments migrated from their military roots into globally popular casual or street wear styles. And Alpha catapulted into an internationally recognized brand with multiple products and customers in 95 countries.
Fast forward to today. With e-commerce, increasingly consumers wanted to be able to see the entire product line and purchase online. As Alpha’s markets and product lines expanded, it realized it had to accommodate this new market potential with new approaches.
“We had been selling to other businesses for years, but when we decided to sell directly to consumers via the web we wanted to be very careful to avoid channel conflict”, said Jesse Price, Alpha’s Director of Online Marketing. “Approaching both markets on one site means we might be perceived as selling against our retailers. We had to strike the right balance to avoid alienating our base.”
Price’s idea was to have the Alpha website serve as a clearinghouse of information for consumers to discover and learn about the products, and then be encouraged to visit retailer websites or stores for purchase. Technology was an essential ingredient for this strategy to work. To handle the increased online business potential, Price realized that Alpha had to migrate from its homegrown e-commerce platform which had reached its limit of functionality. “We were poised for ‘hockey stick’ online growth in a few years,” said Price. “Given our brand position, this was a very viable goal. We needed a new platform that could grow along with that kind of expectation.”
The ShopVisible platform provided the perfect fit, with out-of-the box functionality, numerous customization options, and excellent reliability to handle higher volume orders during peak sales periods. It is optimized to attract customers with rich content, and speed them through the sales process.
Integration between Alpha’s Visual 2000 ERP system simplified and automated many of the manual touchpoints for inventory, purchase order, finance and other key business processes. CRM integration helped reduce the load for both service and sales teams as they handled orders both domestically and internationally.
On the front-end, a simple and clean design provides universal audience appeal. “Our home page serves as the corporate face for our stores,” said Price. “Prospects can download our latest catalog and get an idea of what Alpha is really about. It also serves to promote our retail partners, to showcase our products, and to drive traffic back to their stores.”
With business coming from Russia, China, Japan, Germany and many other countries, significant effort was put into the Store Locator function. “It is important for a customer to easily locate a brick and mortar retailer in their state or country. Many customers want to go visit the retailer’s website, or go try on a jacket before they purchase, and this multichannel synchronization and collaboration is critical” said Price.
Behind the scenes, the ShopVisible professional services team helped Alpha launch marketing initiatives to spur web traffic—building product and collection pages with sizzle; ensuring that all content was optimized for SEO, and managing and tracking affiliate marketing campaigns.
How is Alpha doing? Results have been exceptional. ShopVisible Director Client Development Doug Norwood explains. “The baseline metrics we are seeing shows Alpha had a very strong winter season. Online revenues increased 25% compared to their last winter season, and the average position on search engines has been cut in half.”
Norwood says Alpha Industries exhibits the best practices of an established company breaking new ground online. “There’s a lot of on the fly discovery. Jesse has an analytical mind and comes up with innovative ways to impact revenue, engage their customer base and improve their user experiences. From a collaborative view, we engage the ShopVisible services group, developers, and engineers, to share ideas about how these ideas would work on the ShopVisible platform.”
What’s down the road? Price said Alpha Industries will continue to grow its product selection featuring year around categories and collections. He will work with ShopVisible enhance product pages with rich, visual content. For retailers, Alpha plans to continue helping stores to leverage content (in a variety of different languages) about the rich history of its iconic brand.
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