One Retail Group is a multi-national brand owner and online retailer. Its portfolio of brands spans home appliances, personal care and lifestyle consumer goods. Since its launch in 2013, the group has become one of the fastest growing companies in Europe, now operating in 12 countries.
Due to its rapid international expansion, the group was ranked in 11th place in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.
One Retail Group approached Swanky to explore the viability of migrating its seven separate brands from WooCommerce to Shopify Plus.
The roll-out of these DTC stores is part of the group’s drive to expand further internationally, service B2B customers, offer subscriptions and bundles, and improve customer experience across all its online stores.
One of the challenges Swanky had was to migrate multiple individual DTC stores in a very short space of time. We needed to offer a fast and cost-effective solution for creating multiple stores – stores that could then all be managed easily by the team at One Retail Group.
Managing more than one store can be time consuming, especially if every update has to be put in place separately for each store. Fortunately, Swanky could offer One Retail Group a multi-store codebase solution that would allow them to push updates automatically across all of their stores whenever necessary.
Since all of One Retail Group’s brands sell goods internationally, another part of the challenge was deciding how best to approach international sales, balancing the advantages and disadvantages of Shopify expansion stores versus Shopify Markets.
Migration from WooCommerce to Shopify Plus
Firstly, we worked with the One Retail Group team to identify the key specifics of their ecommerce offering and confirm whether Shopify was indeed the appropriate choice of platform for their DTC stores.
The brand had been experiencing restrictions and limitations with its WooCommerce stores. The sites did not look how the team wanted them to, and their ability to make customisations was limited. Data and order management on the platform was also complex and needed simplifying.
In order to scale as a business, One Retail Group wanted a user-friendly platform that would provide them consistency across all of their brands.
Creating Multiple Stores From a Single Codebase
In order to streamline the design and management of all of One Retail Group’s stores, Swanky leveraged our multi-store codebase, which we have used for several of our international clients including Wilkinson Sword and Bouclème.
As well as improving the efficiency of the migration of these sites, this solution allows One Retail Group to manage and update all of their stores from one single codebase. This includes not only their seven different brand stores, each with it’s own unique flavour, but also five additional international stores, for those brands within the group that have a multi-store set-up.
Thanks to the single codebase, any bespoke features that were created during the build process, such as a more advanced country selector, could be deployed across all stores seamlessly. Unique elements are retained within each store while leveraging the shared components from the central codebase. Going forward, the group will be able to maintain a consistent approach across all of their brands, with any new functionalities being easily rolled out to all the sites simultaneously.
Our team designed a flexible template that allowed each store to have its own look and feel, whilst retaining the same backend design as each other. The majority of the design and build work was completed for the initial migration of the Pro Breeze brand, so that all subsequent migrations were fast and cost-effective.
Our multi-store configurations utilise the single codebase, and we employ a custom shell script to mediate our custom merge strategy for handling upstream/downstream changes to push updates to multiple stores at once.
We build flexible sections so that clients can piece together multiple different formats for their pages and experiment with different layouts. Each brand’s team could then overlay their unique content, colours, fonts and logos using the templates, with no additional code needed.
The result in this case is 7 unique brand websites with widely varying purposes and product ranges. Whilst Pro Breeze is an home appliances brand, Active Era sells sports and outdoor products, Cosi Home sells heated throws, electric blankets and bedding, and Hello Pure is a health supplements retailer. Looking at the front end of each store, it would be very hard to guess that they were all managed by a single codebase.
Launching Within a Tight Schedule
Knowing that speed of launch was one of One Retail Group’s top goals, Swanky’s New Build team worked fast to develop the headline site – Pro Breeze – within a tight timeframe. Thanks to the experience of our Shopify specialised team, the site was able to launch significantly ahead of schedule, with a stunning four weeks design and development time.
Once the Pro Breeze site had been successfully launched, and we were confident that it was functioning smoothly, Swanky turned our attention to the six other brands and their stores. For these, the development time was greatly reduced, since the majority of work had already been completed for the initial launch. From then on, it was a question of formatting the sections to adhere to the look and feel of each brand.
Another advantage of the multi-store codebase was that we were able to complete UAT (User Acceptance Testing) across all stores at once. This meant that any bugs could be detected and resolved across all the stores at once, making the process far quicker for each individual store.
We had seamless launches for the succeeding brands, with site checks for some being completed in under an hour, due to the lack of bugs.
Internationalisation Solution: A Hybrid of Shopify Markets & Expansion Stores
For international brands selling on Shopify, there are two options when it comes to international store structure: Shopify Markets or expansion stores.
Expansion stores give each store greater autonomy, allowing for a localised approach to each market. This is a recommended approach for brands who already have an established customer base in a particular region.
However, developing and maintaining multiple stores is costly and time consuming, so requires a larger budget and a team dedicated to maintaining the separate stores.
Shopify has rolled out Shopify Markets as a way for merchants to expand internationally without the need for separate stores. Markets allows you to manage international variations to your store such as multi currency and multi language – within one single store. This allows brands to test out new markets cost-effectively, without needing the same upfront investment.
Many of One Retail Group’s brands sell internationally, so finding the right approach was very important. In order to prioritise its most important regions, whilst also balancing cost and workload, One Retail Group opted for a hybrid approach, resulting in 12 stores.
For the flagship brand Pro Breeze, we launched three expansion stores, covering the UK, the EU, and North America. The UK site was in English only, whilst the North America store also featured French, and the European site is available in multiple languages.
For other brands that had a less established presence abroad, One Retail Group chose the more streamlined single store approach, leveraging Shopify Markets functionality to localise content, language and currency for each market.
The company opted for automated translation of its multi-lingual stores, carried out by an AI plugin, as an efficient and cost-effective way to access multiple languages. Check out our article on Shopify translation to understand more about the various translation options available to international merchants.
In order to create the exact functionality that One Retail Group was looking for in its new Shopify stores, Swanky developed a number of customisations for the new sites. Our development team has a history of creating custom Shopify apps for clients, to enable multiple functionalities not otherwise possible on Shopify.
For its more technically complex product ranges, such as its Pro Breeze dehumidifiers, One Retail Group wanted to offer customers the ability to compare products based on their specifications.
Our team created customised specification tables for each product page, building metafields to pull information such as product dimensions, weight and voltage, for example, directly from Shopify admin.
The next step was to create a comparison table, which is featured at the bottom of each page. This table features other similar products within the same category, and displays the values of each specification side by side, giving the customer a quick and easy way to know which product best suits their needs. This offers an additional way to upsell more expensive products, as customers can see in more detail the added value that higher spec products bring.
Thanks to the multistore codebase, we were able to duplicate this functionality and deploy it on all of One Retail Group’s brand stores, quickly and seamlessly. For each subsequent site, the brand only needed to fill out the metafields to modify the custom functionality on the new store.
As a result of the hard work of Swanky’s New Build team, One Retail Group’s first Shopify website was launched in under six weeks, ahead of schedule. We were then able to move on to Active Era to create their UK and EU stores.
Thanks to the unified codebase, the launch of the following brands on Shopify was similarly seamless, with UAT being completed in as little as an hour for some stores, due to all bug fixes being built into the codebase already and the high engagement and strong feedback loop of the internal team at One Retail Group.
One Retail Group now has 12 stores that can be managed by its various teams, whilst any future updates and improvements can be rolled out seamlessly to the group as a whole, enabling it to stay agile and respond easily to market trends.
Experts in International Ecommerce on Shopify
We provide industry-leading consultancy, strategy and development to guide international brands through global expansion on Shopify Plus. To find out how Swanky can support your next steps as a cross-border online retailer, contact our team today.