Why we first worked with e-commerce platform Shopware 6 for Reef’s new shop.

With a new webshop Reef recently set foot on Dutch soil. The brand, certainly known among surfers for its flip-flops, hopes to appeal to an even broader target group with its visual environment and choice aid. As a digital agency we worked with the e-commerce platform Shopware 6 for the first time. Our considerations and experiences at a glance.

The rich history and the link with the surfing community have made Reef a well-known international brand. For many, the slipper with built-in bottle opener has become an icon. However, the webshop with which Reef sold the slippers until recently was outdated. The plans for growth and the desire to further digitalise (B2B) purchasing made it even more necessary to develop a new webshop.

Changing behaviour and needs
The immediate reason for this change is the shift in customer needs. The company saw the proportion of mobile visitors grow so rapidly that the old platform no longer had a future. Apart from a mobile first design, we came to a concrete wish list together. The starting point for visual appeal and multilingualism, for example, came from the growth ambitions. In addition, the technical foundation had to be scalable: for example, other brands of the parent company could be connected to the back-end with their own look and feel (sales channels).

Creativity in e-commerce
With technical, functional and financial requirements in mind, it was decided to work with Shopware’s e-commerce platform. Also for us as an agency – used to Magento and WordPress – this is the first time we have worked with Shopware 6. Especially since the release of version 6, Shopware has attracted a lot of attention. The originally German company has taken a good look at where others have failed before. For example, users with ‘Shopping Experiences’ click visual pages together quite easily via drag & drop. Particularly among fashion brands, Shopware has already become one of the favourites: experience – at many companies still the underdog – is central. Anyone who has the right people on board internally to give a creative interpretation to e-commerce will be served at their beck and call: e-commerce is about content, not technology.

The decisive factor in the choice is that Shopware can be adapted with customer-specific B2B functionalities right from the (affordable) professional version. With customer groups, a mining environment, cost percentages and other settings to personalise the environment, the e-commerce platform is very suitable for further digitisation of purchasing. Given the roadmap, we expect Shopware to reach the level of many other solutions this summer, including Magento.

Approach
The development of Reef’s new webshop is driven by experience. During the UX trajectory, images of surfers, beach life and matching products were incorporated into attractive designs. These were then fleshed out with functionalities, which were delivered in two-week sprints. At the same time, we worked with partners on middleware to link important systems such as fulfillment and ERP. The choice to work with middleware is a conscious one: knowing that other brands will soon also be using the back-end, we are creating a flexible layer that can handle multiple data streams.

A special feature of Reef’s new accommodation is the digital selection aid. Research among the target group made it clear that quite a lot of visitors are not finding the right flip-flops or sandals. A filter, which normally selects by properties, was considered unfriendly. The choice aid that we developed therefore guides visitors through the offer in a number of steps and eliminates unnecessary noise. What struck us is how easy – even for Magento connoisseurs – it is to add such functionality. Our experience with custom symphony web applications turned out to be an excellent basis for this.

Lessons
Shopware 6 is without a doubt a mature e-commerce platform: stable and virtually free of bugs. Previous cases also prove that even the simplest versions can easily handle tens of thousands of articles. Since version 6, the technical foundation is also very future-oriented.

On the other hand, some important functionalities are still under development. Putting the products in the desired order – for example, when items are sold out – is still something for the future. Also, not all PSPs and logistics parties are familiar with the software yet. Has that led to problems? No, you can always choose to develop a solution yourself. In addition, the community is very extensive and practically always offers a solution. What works in Shopwares advantage is that the company is very approachable and shares a detailed roadmap. It does publish an update almost every month. So there is clearly speed in the company. In that sense, it is reminiscent of the early days of Magento.

Anyone who subordinates the digital experience and is mainly conversion-driven will probably have enough on other platforms. For companies that are brand- or product-driven, it is a very welcome addition to the market.

For Reef, the launch of the new shop has proven effective. Without being allowed to share concrete figures, we see that the conversion has immediately increased by a number of percentage points. As intended, the growth has thus gained momentum.

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