Dune Group’s COVID-19 crisis website lays the foundation for long-term success

(Image from Dune)

A major website redesign by British ‘affordable luxury’ footwear and accessories brand Dune Group has improved customer experience and reduced software costs.

As part of the upgrade, the use of an all-new image and media manager meant that potential buyers trapped at home during COVID-19 could still view products from this designer, producer and distributor. of high quality footwear and accessories, based in London. for men and women.

It was lucky – because, as Elaine Smith, the company’s head of digital products, recalls, the move away from older technologies meant that for a good chunk of time, online quickly became the only way to business to operate commercially. She explained:

I had said before that we had to change platforms so that we could meet the growth plans we had as a company, especially in the international space – but in the midst of the pandemic, when we were the only channel that was trading, I revisited this conversation.

I said, look, this is a perfect example of why digital is so important, and if we were on a bigger platform, we might be able to pivot more easily and manage things like disabling our collection channels to introduce new features like being able to make video calls in our then-closed stores.

Prior to the dramatic events of 2019, from its beginnings in 1992 as a small concession store on London’s Oxford Street, Dune Group used proprietary technology to manage all of its digital work using what Smith describes as a “little platform tailored”.

The problem – as she discovered when she joined the company after building up significant e-commerce experience at larger UK retail organizations like John Lewis and House of Fraser – was that if Dune was largest account for this vendor, this did not always translate to the service levels it now needed.

She says:

This small company did everything from website development to maintenance, but we were sort of the guinea pig for a lot of the technology development, which then meant that the cost and time to do anything took a a little longer than expected. .

business thinking

While Dune had a low cost in one area – having a primary web support contract – over time its partner had to add several third-party plugins to get the kind of functionality it needed, including websites multilingual and a growing order book.

That, Smith discovered as she joined the company in early 2019, meant that the cost and complexity of managing it all was quite significant. As a result, one of the first things she did in her new role was to see if Dune could renegotiate some of these deals or switch to cheaper third parties.

But coming from the corporate world, even before the pandemic, replatforming quickly started to seem like a better option, especially in terms of functionality and support cost.

And then the global health crisis hit, which accelerated the plans.

Provide a personalized experience

Management no longer needed persuasion, so very soon after Dune switched to a new way of working – a change that was done entirely virtually, as the lockdown prevented even a face-to-face meeting at face.

Going live in June 2021, the new system is based on Salesforce Commerce Cloud as the primary web host, and a new content management system in the form of this suite’s page designer.

The porting went smoothly, allowing Smith to simplify much of its technology stack, particularly replacing third parties with the platform’s built-in services. Dune’s new website, she says, loads faster, looks better, and provides a richer, more personalized experience, especially when shopping.

As noted, a key change has been how the company now works with its digital image assets. Another issue with her incumbent vendor, she says, was that it struggled to provide sufficient access to image-related licensing — an important aspect of any B2C company’s process.

This meant that many photography jobs were taken offline and transferred to spreadsheets, which was both inefficient and error-prone. This was made more complicated by the fact that the brand had to work with so many partners and franchises, which involved sharing URLs around campaigns and promotions. And it turned out to be complex and expensive. She added:

If customers can’t try the product right away in an open physical store, you need to be able to provide them with high-quality images so they can be sure of what they’re buying in terms of details. , textures, colors and soon.

We also knew we wanted to start introducing video as well, so we needed a way to be able to do all of this easily and manage it all in a way that wasn’t going to be too expensive to run.

A final factor in choosing the digital asset management (DAM) solution was whether it could deliver images at the best resolution for whatever device the user wanted to see them on. Smith said:

80% of our traffic comes from mobile. Therefore, image technology that can deliver the right imagery, for the right device, regardless of the user’s Wi-Fi type or connection speed, is also extremely important to us.

Therefore, as part of the new platform, the Cloudinary DAM was also introduced. This, she says, achieved all of the project’s goals, while bringing a range of other benefits.

These range, she says, from testing user-generated content to providing a strengthened website review and rating engine.

Another important factor is the degree of vendor integration with Salesforce. But perhaps the biggest benefit of using DAM, she says, has been the reduction in operational overhead. Smith added:

Although the replatform in general saved us considerable hosting costs, by using this software for our images, we saved 50% of the budget that we would have had to spend on other products or equivalent products for to do work.

Preparing Dune for a better future

In place for just over a year, all of these new website and image workflows, while extremely useful, are actually just the start. Smith said:

The replatform is really the start of our transformation, and we have a lot of things going on, including making things better, not just for the website, but for our partners and customers through better use of data.

Really, it was and is about better preparing for the future, improving the way we do business internationally, as well as improving our SEO and acquisition channels.

We would no longer be able to move forward with all the projects and work that we do, so this has been absolutely essential for us as a brand.

His final piece of advice: It’s surprising how long people will accept suboptimal ways of working as the norm – but never be afraid to question that and look for improvements wherever you can.

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