- Luxury handbag maker Hammitt enlisted Chief Digital Advisors (CDA) to match an unwavering retail approach to its ecommerce operations
- CDA, a Shopify Plus Partner, spearheaded a site overhaul, leading to increases of 15% in AOV, 170% in site traffic, and 210% in YoY revenue
- “What makes me happiest,” says Anne Spradley of CDA, “is Hammitt has managed to hold those numbers as its traffic in scale has grown.”
On a mid-spring morning inside a bustling cafe, Tony Drockton was a bundle of energy. Frenetic. Enthused. He could hardly sit still.
The chairman, titled “chief cheerleader” first and foremost on his LinkedIn page, had worked himself into something of a lather. The subject matter at hand, his luxury handbag company Hammitt, was an unmistakable point of pride and energy.
I’m a shoot from the hip entrepreneur,” he says. “That’s always who I’ve been.
That much was apparent, but in this also was some irony. Though Drockton operates like a livewire, having built from nothing California-based Hammitt through force of will and power of personality, his business strategy proves to be a near total opposite approach to the way he has stormed the shores of Hermosa Beach for nearly 30 years.
In practice, he has shown himself to be intensely deliberate. He joined Hammitt as a very early partner, in 2008, yet at every turn he has resisted overtures to make the quickest buck, to diminish the value of this brand by hawking it at discount prices, or by promoting flash sales Drockton feels would not properly reflect the care and quality that goes into each of his products.
He is about to be rewarded for his patience. As Hammitt surges forward with a new turbocharged ecommerce strategy — backed by an exhaustive digital optimization plan grown through Shopify Plus Partner Chief Digital Advisors (CDA) — this boutique brand is ready for its spotlight.
“We felt like we were this unsurfaced gem,” Drockton says. “Now, it’s time to shine.”
Ecommerce Growth Right Alongside Retail
Set this brand story aside for a moment, because Hammitt’s refusal to sell its bags for even a dollar less than it feels they are worth is the thread that will tie this all together in the end.
In 2017, with a retail arm the company trusted, Hammitt turned its eyes on ecommerce, where there was still plenty of room for improvement.
Drockton, who arrived in Hermosa Beach from the midwest in 1990 when an MBA classmate offered a couch to crash on, believed that Hammitt, like other high-end luxury brands, should target about an 80-20 split between retail sales vs. ecommerce revenue. “That’s a healthy balance for this company,” he says.
This meant that, as Hammitt’s wholesale business continued to expand, becoming a national hit in boutique shops and department stores alike, its ecommerce side needed to grow right there alongside it.
Enter CDA. In 2017, Hammitt enlisted Bill Parkes, CDA’s CEO and a longtime veteran of pushing ecommerce companies to scale, to craft for it the ultimate blueprint on how best to optimize its Shopify Plus site.
- 170% increase in site traffic
- 15% increase in average order value
- 210% increase in year-over-year revenue
Here’s how they did it.
Bags Fit For a King
The first order of business was to get more people to Hammitt’s site, but without pandering for traffic in a way that might not have fit the company’s ideals.
Hammitt hired a selected PR partner to spread its word in the right forums, added curated social content to its site, devoted money to ad spending, and beefed up its email marketing efforts.
The company identified the brand content and story it wanted to offer – then automated the whole process, better segmenting its email database of customers so the company’s message reached precisely who it wanted and when.
There were other methods — working in tandem with partner advocates, for instance, especially those that wrote reviews of Hammitt’s bags — but the company knew it was for nothing if the product wasn’t right.
So it didn’t hurt that social media seemed to love Hammitt’s catalog and the spirit behind the company. In the spring of 2018, actress Jaime King posed alongside Drockton on her Instagram during Hammitt’s 10-year anniversary party benefiting two California charities.
The results were undeniable. It all led to Hammitt’s web traffic jumping 170% year-over-year.
A Full-Funnel Approach
Once Hammitt’s customers had entered its orbit, it was time to guide them down the funnel.
CDA helped oversee that Hammitt’s site receive the punch in the arm it needed to improve overall user experience. This was done through functionality changes, sure, but perhaps most importantly through personalization and the addition of social content, showing visitors what they just might appreciate about the Hammitt brand.
Exclusivity is a big thing with Hammitt, and so it also launched products designed specifically for sale on its site. Customers grew excited in greater ways visiting the Hammitt webstore, not knowing what new items they might encounter.
Upselling was key when it came to increasing average order spend. Nosto, a Shopify Plus Technology Partner, was deployed to help promote product recommendations, pointing shoppers toward other pieces they may also like.
Upon checkout, upsell suggestions appeared that CDA and Hammitt noticed had a great impact upon the bottom line.
All these tweaks resulted in an average order value boost of 15% year-over-year.
‘A Much Longer Payoff’
New and more enhanced traffic, coupled with upsell initiatives that really worked, paid off in big ways for Hammitt.
For a company that has enjoyed 40% compound annual growth over its previous four years in business, Hammitt could now point specifically to a 210% increase in year-over-year revenue under its partnership with CDA.
Which brings us back to this company brand story.
Drockton knows what his business is capable of, and ecommerce is now a tentpole of Hammitt as it continues its breakout. The CEO is vocal. He is animated. The next step upward is so close he can reach out and feel it.
But here again, he pauses, Drockton’s discipline not far behind his enthusiasm. Even with Andrew Forbes, the longtime COO of Jimmy Choo, on board with Hammitt as its new CEO, there is still a strategy of stoicism and restraint to hold onto.
“To be honest with you, growth's not the most important thing to me,” Drockton says. “It’s brand. The brand part of the growth is what I’m really focused on. The revenue’s telling you we’re doing a good job, but people are starting to find out who we are. That means a lot to me.”
The patience may be uncommon, though it may also turn to be the reason for all that Hammitt aspires to be, for what this brand is about and has worked so hard to become.
Over the years, there were a million times when Hammitt products could have sold for cheaper, or compromised the company brand through flash sales or discounted rates. It would have been, in Drockton’s parlance, like throwing gasoline on the fire.
“Our approach has been more to use kerosene,” he says. “A slow burn, but for a much longer payoff.”