Costs Slashed, 2X Holiday Revenue, Three Weeks After johnnie-O Replatformed

Costs Slashed, 2X Holiday Revenue, Three Weeks After johnnie-O Replatformed
  • johnnie-O has a rich history in premium men’s fashion – but its ecommerce platform had long performed short of expectation
  • A switch to Shopify Plus cut costs dramatically, and johnnie-O’s Cyber Monday 2017 – just three weeks after replatforming – became its best ecommerce sales day ever
  • The brand sold 2X what it had a year earlier on Cyber Monday, but now johnnie-O eyes this year’s holidays with a new outlook ... and the taste for much more

In winter, the company was wary. In spring, it was frustrated. In summer, it was incensed.

By fall, it all had to change.

In 2017, johnnie-O faced such a crossroads in its ecommerce evolution. The east-coast-meets-west-coast men's fashion brand – an established favorite of athletes, celebs, and on-air personalities, itself founded by the brother of a Golden Globe-nominated actor – had long been a hit offline, where its apparel sold to great success since 2005.

But the way to supersize sales for johnnie-O, which does a significant portion of its business in-store and through its wholesale channels, was likely to be online.

johnnie-O wished for the site reliability it could not find previously

Indeed, ecommerce seemed to mark the avenue through which this fashion brand had the greatest potential for growth, and yet the passing of each season brought with it a host of issues that continued to waste time and resources.

To be honest, the platform was not going to get it done for us.

Clare Berner, johnnie-O’s Director of Ecommerce

The pain crested in July, with another website crash wiping out another key selling day.

Yet this was no simple call to make.

So much money, so many resources, had been poured into its site. Just let go of it all? And what of Black Friday Cyber Monday, johnnie-O’s greatest sales opportunity of the year, just three short months away?

Even if it wanted to, surely there was no way johnnie-O could replatform quickly enough to be back on its feet for the holidays ...

“Well,” Berner says, “we knew we were a little crazy.”

johnnie-O was founded by John O'Donnell, the brother of actor Chris O'Donnell

‘We Decided We Needed To Change Courses Very Quickly’

John O’Donnell founded johnnie-O in 2005, when he believed there to be a white space between traditional east coast preppy and west coast surf brands.

He fused the two styles. O'Donnell, who was raised near Chicago, added his own midwest flavor to the L.A.-based line.

What was left were premium clothing made for the boardroom, the beach, and all stops in between – a collection that once held only its signature four-button polo shirts but now features pants, pullovers, swimwear, shorts, and more for boys and men.

Celebrities found the brand in waves, its clothing appearing on the backs of sports stars like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, as well as “Scent of a Woman” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” star Chris O’Donnell – the brother of johnnie-O’s very own founder.

But while Hollywood cachet was greeted warmly, it was also not all this company would be about.

The product, how it was received by consumers at large, would make it sink or swim. And for more than a decade, johnnie-O has been in a powerful front stroke, its products appearing in hundreds of stores nationwide.

And yet, even with such a bright offline past and future, it was clear its online presence required a change.

johnnie-O had its best ecommerce day ever three weeks after migrating to Shopify Plus

‘It Was Really Crippling’

johnnie-O’s ecommerce arm had run for years on a previous platform.

It was a union never meant to last. “There were a ton of customer-facing and backend issues,” says Berner. “We tried to make things work by spending more money on development.

“It was really crippling.”

By January, johnnie-O’s site still didn’t work as it should. Any signs of hope were quickly wiped out when two crashes came – one of them during the kickoff to its end-of-season summer sale.

“Which is a huge day for us,” says Berner. Thousands in sales were lost, the optics even worse for this prestige brand that could not grasp the website reliability it so coveted.

“At that point, after everything,” the ecommerce director says, “we decided we needed to change courses very quickly.”

‘It Was So Much Smoother Than I Thought It Would Be’

Berner cast her gaze across the market.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud was a fine option, but it was a conversation with the L.A.-based development and design group Zehner that led her elsewhere.

Zehner, a Shopify Plus Agency Partner, suggested there was only one solution johnnie-O should consider to achieve the kind of ecommerce growth and stability a brand of its stature required.

And it would mean johnnie-O could chop its monthly ecommerce operations budget dramatically.

But what about that timeline – three months to totally redesign and replatform all its data, every customer, every SKU? “Zehner said they would be able to meet our deadline and our budget, and didn’t tell us that it was impossible,” Berner says.

So the mad rush began. The end goal:

Go live on Shopify Plus with enough time to hit the ground running for Black Friday Cyber Monday.

In addition to its customer data and SEO considerations, about 20,000 johnnie-O SKUs came over in the migration, not to mention the integration of more than ten apps – including Nosto, for product recommendations, and Avalara, for tax prep and organization – johnnie-O wished to utilize on Shopify Plus.

On Nov. 6, the day was finally here. “When we flipped the switch and went live, it was so much smoother than I thought it would be,” Berner says. “We were kind of bracing for the worst, and it actually went live and it worked.”

johnnie-O’s Greatest Ecommerce Sales Day Ever

There were less than 20 days until Black Friday.

No pressure or anything. This was merely the holiday sales weekend that had the potential to set its annual bottom line ablaze.

Though its Shopify Plus site launched only in November, johnnie-O had for months been working on its holiday strategy, leaning on Zehner to help pre-write scripts for some of the promotions it planned to roll out.

There was trepidation in the air. Previous sales surges caused johnnie-O’s site to crash and burn, and johnnie-O had its sights set high for the first big test of its new site.

It was easy to draw comparisons to the past. “The chat and support that Shopify Plus has is light-years better,” Berner says. “The customer support we had was just nowhere near the level of support that Shopify provides.”

Comfort was one thing. But performance would be what spoke loudest about this brand and the rebirth of its online experience.

When the holiday weekend hit, johnnie-O reveled in its success. Compared to Cyber Monday 2016, on Cyber Monday 2017 johnnie-O ...

  • More than doubled revenue
  • Saw its conversion rate jump 39%
  • Enjoyed a traffic spike of 47%

It was, by the sum of its parts, a smash. It was the greatest ecommerce sales day in company history.

AOV Up 10%: ‘It’s Been a Really Good Year’

Where to go from here? A rousing debut is of course made greater by a fitting encore, and in ecommerce johnnie-O does not consider itself a one-hit wonder.

Its 2017 Black Friday Cyber Monday success gave it a rush of momentum; through to the end of 2017, site traffic remained up 51%.

Since the start of 2018, johnnie-O’s …

  • Average order value is up 10%
  • Mobile conversion rate has increased 16%
  • Site traffic has grown 33% in total
  • Total page views are up 81%

What’s next is a much different future for a company emboldened now by what is possible through its new capacity in ecommerce.

Black Friday Cyber Monday is again around the corner. Can johnnie-O double its sales once more?

It will at least target to match last year’s YoY revenue growth, Berner says, and internally there may be the hunger for even more. johnnie-O may feel like it is just scratching the surface for what it can accomplish through a site finally working the way the company has designed it.

“It’s been pretty smooth sailing. The migration has enabled us to meet our goals,” says Berner. “It’s been a really good year.”

About the author

Jason Buckland

Jason Buckland is a content marketing manager at Shopify Plus. His feature writing has appeared in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Playboy, Time, the Toronto Star, and elsewhere.