Seasalt & SQLI - a perfect fit.

  • 6.1% Conversions up and expected to grow much further. Record days at Christmas saw conversion rates at 5.9 per cent and 6.1 per cent, up from a high of 5.3 per cent before the new build.
  • 100% Sales up 100 per cent based on the year before COVID.
  • 55% Mobile conversion is at 55 per cent, which is a massive increase.
  • 20% The company is expected to grow 20 per cent year-on-year, largely as a result of the new site.

The Seasalt Story

Think of Cornwall, and you will conjure up images of the sea, fishing and communities in tune with the environment and their surroundings. From its early beginnings back in 1981, Seasalt has embodied all of this and more.

When Don Chadwick opened up his first store in Penzance – the then General Clothing Stores sold traditional workwear to local farmers, fishermen and artists. Don’s sons Neil, Leigh and David moved the businesses forward under the name Seasalt, creating a clothing brand which also designed its own collections.

Now, with more than 65 stores around the UK and Ireland, the team includes fashion and textile designers and artists. It is recognised for beautiful and functional clothing, with attention to detail, that customers can enjoy wearing throughout the seasons.

In 2019, Seasalt turned to SQLI to partner on an overhaul of its digital commerce operations on Adobe Commerce.

“The teamwork was really good, there has been – and continues to be - great communication. We had full confidence in what SQLI were doing from the off.”

Will Charnley, Chief Sales Officer, Seasalt

Why SQLI?

Seasalt had been operating on a platform called Blu Commerce for many years and had simply outgrown it. The platform was bespoke, heavily customised and not scalable.

Seasalt’s Chief Sales Officer, Will Charnley, said: “Our existing platform was built from the ground up and highly-bespoke.  Adding anything new, innovative or plug-ins to it was a very expensive and slow process. We needed a platform we could move quicker on.”

Seasalt’s business strategy is an omnichannel, digitally-led strategy and the online sites is expected to drive double-digital growth for the company over the next five years. 

The site needed to have an international capability, multiple store fronts, localised content, and enable a B2B offering in the future. They also needed to offer its customers greater personalisation, a buy now, pay later function, search and merchandising and international fulfilment - none of which was possible on the previous platform. 

Seasalt made the decision to retire the platform to one that would enable it to grow, help operate at an enterprise level and allow acceleration in its customer experience and sales.

“We saw most companies were moving to enterprise-level size platforms and knew we needed something a bit more universal.  After a lengthy evaluation process, we opted for Adobe Commerce.

“We asked Adobe to nominate a couple of digital agencies that they thought would be a good fit for us and SQLI was one.

“The UK team came down to Cornwall to pitch to us.  They really understood what we were trying to achieve from the word go. They were used to building similar-size websites, for similar-size businesses. We were compatible from a team perspective, too.”

How SQLI Met The Brief

SQLI began working with Seasalt in October 2019. The brief was to replicate the website front-end and move the business onto Adobe Commerce. The site went live in July 2020.

Will said: “The basic Adobe Commerce model was really important to Seasalt – a responsive website, the ability to create individual storefronts for Ireland, the UK and International, the ability to get the customer to the product pages more quickly and excel the customer journey.”

Will continued: “Earlier on in the project, SQLI visited the Seasalt team in Cornwall over a number of weeks. Both teams got on well and early conversations were really productive and the relationship very positive. We were able to scope out what we really needed to be thinking about from our end and we could start to understand what working together would look like. It really helped us to overcome challenges later on.”

Seasalt has now moved away from highly manual, bespoke processes to a platform that is more hands off, “plug-and-play” and far more scalable, taking the strain out of the day-to-day through product enrichment, live promotion settings, and new launch processes (loading up assets and pushing live). 

“Adobe Commerce has provided a far more efficient and effective way of doing things than in the past through the tools, technology, data and insight that is available to Seasalt in the platform. 

Furthermore, solutions provided by SQLI’s partners Global-e, Akeneo, Klevu, Yotpo and Adyen has also elevated Seasalt’s consistency, accuracy and efficiency with the products it serves customer, elevated the customer experience through local country languages, surfaced user-generated content, enabled greater product reviews and personalisation, and elevated the search and merchandising.

“Overall, Seasalt is able to tell a much better story to its digital customers.  And the insight and feedback that they are now getting on the site makes is easier for them to build a better picture of who is shopping with them and how they can better serve them through highly personalised experiences,” said Will.

The Challenges

Like most implementations, the project was not without challenges.

Despite the COVID pandemic effecting matters during the build, both teams stayed on track with the programme.

Will continued: “One of the biggest challenges came around balancing the need for customisation against what came straight out-of-the-box. What was important to us, against what wasn’t, in terms of functionality.

“We wanted quite a few features that were on our old website that weren’t out-of-the-box. But these took time and came at a cost on top of what we had already factored in.

“The reality is that you don’t know how it’s going to work until you get stuck in. We have not been a naturally digitally native business, so there was a lot to think about and learn.

“There were a lot of robust conversations at the time to find this balance, but that’s where having a healthy relationship is so vital.”

Results

By moving to Adobe Commerce, the company has seen immediate benefit particularly with increases in conversion.  In the three months of this financial year, conversion has accelerated so quickly that it is on a par with last year’s conversion results, largely as a result of getting customers through the customer journey more seamlessly and efficiently.

Due to a large portion of the past two years spent in lockdown, before-and-after figures are hard to compare. However, some performance markers include:

  • Conversions up and expected to grow much further. Record days at Christmas saw conversion rates at 5.9 per cent and 6.1 per cent, up from a high of 5.3 per cent before the new build.
  • Sales up 100 per cent based on the year before COVID.
  • Mobile conversion is at 55 per cent, which is a massive increase.
  • The company is expected to grow 20 per cent year-on-year, largely as a result of the new site.

“We are really happy with the results given the environment.  It showed us just what was possible and how well the platform performed,” said Will.

The Future

With the platform now fully functioning, the partnership is set to continue to grow as SQLI add in extra layers of functionality for Seasalt’s digital operations.

Will added: “We knew a re-platform was a lot of work and carried a lot of risks but it took us all a bit by surprise by how much work was needed to get everything where we wanted it to be.

“There were technical problems outside of our internal control. The good news is no one lost their heads and the guys at SQLI have been very engaged throughout the whole time to help us.

“We are reliant on third party work when it comes to digital, so it’s important to have a good relationship, where you’ve got people who will jump on things for you. We now have a much better way of working with the SQLI team, with a dedicated DevOp resource.

“We are happy with where we are and so able to deliver on some of the innovation we wanted to and are working on adding in some of the extra functionality like buy now, pay later.

“SQLI has bought into our business in terms of what we were trying to achieve and the plan is for the relationship (and the platform) to continue to grow.”

Profile

Industry: Women's clothing, footwear and accessories

Location: Cornwall, UK

Background: A Cornish fashion company selling Women’s clothing, footwear and accessories inspired by the creative and maritime heritage of Cornwall!