Custom Products Drive 30% of Chaco’s eCommerce Revenue
“From humble beginnings, we’ve grown customization into a program that’s hugely impactful for our eCommerce business and overall brand engagement,” said Colin Butts, director of marketing at Chaco. “We’ve sold tens of thousands of pairs, and we feed that machine with new components and new product options, to the point where custom accounts for around 30% of our direct to consumer sales.”
Chaco’s journey with customization began in 2011, with the program tracing its origins to a different service that the brand offers their customers.
“Chaco has always offered a repair program, called ReChaco on our sandals,” said Butts. “After talking with our ReChaco operations director, we learned that customers were calling our factory and requesting specific replacement elements, be it a colored buckle or a different color of webbing.”
As it turned out Chaco was manufacturing hundreds of pairs of these one-of-a-kind sandals a year, proving both the demand for custom products and an already existing manufacturing capability to create them. The final step was to create an online configurator where Chaconians could create custom sandals, allowing Chaco to tap an entirely new market and scale the offering to a much broader audience. They created their own in-house configurator in 2012, but when Wolverine Brands began to replatform to the Demandware Commerce Cloud in 2014 Chaco seized the opportunity to upgrade and enhance their customization experience.
“Having solid technology behind our customization offerings was essential; we needed a platform to create compelling, fantastic experiences on both desktop and mobile that reflected each brand’s DNA while also being easily scalable to the other brands in our portfolio,” said Adrian Stevens, VP of Global eCommerce at Wolverine Worldwide, the parent company of Chaco. “In the end, it’s all about giving people a reason to shop our sites. Offering unique, compelling experiences like customization is essential for brand survival in today’s market, and it’s so critical to have synergy between the brand’s story and the eCommerce experience.”
In September 2015, Chaco gained the distinction of not only being the first of Wolverine’s brands to launch both their Demandware replatform and Fluid Configure 3.0 powered customization experiences simultaneously. Called MyChaco, their customization platform allows Chaconians to choose from five base styles for their sandals, including the recently added Flip. They can then customize them with nearly limitless combinations of color, component, material and sole choices. The platform is available on both desktop and mobile devices, and as customers play with the different elements they watch their design come to life in real time, visualized in photorealistic quality with 3D texture mapping.
As the first Wolverine brand to go live with custom products (having since been joined by Sperry and Keds), Chaco brings invaluable experience to their sister brands.
“Chaco took a leadership position within Wolverine, sharing how we’ve ran customization, what we’ve learned, and what you should watch out for,” said Butts. “Some of the key learnings were to make sure that we offered variety so consumers felt their products were unique to them, and to relentlessly focus on the consumer experience and make it delightful.”
For brands that offer them, custom products facilitate a unique direct-to-consumer connection and open a significant new channel of eCommerce revenue. Chacos’ online customization initiative has already been a success. They’ve sold tens of thousands of pairs of custom sandals, and custom plays a growing role in the brand’s roadmap moving forward.
“Customization is going to play a big part of product development in the future,” said Butts. “There are new individual components we will be adding, but also entire product categories that we want to add as well.”
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