How stroller company Bugaboo went digital overnight

Premium pushchair brand Bugaboo faced an immediate problem when the pandemic hit, as 90% of the company’s sales were through retail outlets. The company has two brand shops in Amsterdam and Berlin but also sells its products in department stores across the world.

“Covid impacted us heavily not just from the supply chain but also in terms of sales,” Thomas Stegelmann, director of global eCommerce and integrations, tells Essential Retail. “People go in store to test and compare brands... and then that all just disappeared.”

Ever since it was first featured in Sex in the City in 2002, Bugaboo’s products have become something of a status symbol, for instance, the £1,100 Fox model was the pushchair of choice for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son Archie.

Given the high price tags, the challenge was to persuade people to part with their cash without trying the product. “We were already going through digital transformation, but this was a game changer.”  Stegelmann oversees eCommerce for 25 different websites around the world, including Europe, Australia, Japan and America – so it was no small challenge.

Fortunately it had recently migrated from its old “garbage” eCommerce platform to Salesforce Commerce Cloud, which put it in a good position to handle the spike in demand and deploy updates quickly.

New channels

“As soon as we realised things were changing quickly, we put together an action plan,” he says. “We had daily calls with the rest of organisation. The warehouse team told us about any backlog and then we would update the websites about delays. We also integrated live chat within a week. That meant staff could instantly respond to customers while working from home."

He describes: “I had previously been fighting for live chat for over a year, but the organisation and technology weren’t ready before.”

The new platform could cope with traffic sometimes three times more than normal revenue. “Unfortunately it couldn’t compensate for the loss of sales on wholesale side – but traffic went through the roof on the website.”

Part of that was down to recreating the in-store experience online, including creating demonstration videos on YouTube and Instagram Live, featuring a live demo and Q&A with the engineer who designed its new top range Fox 2 model.

Now stores are gradually reopening, his team is looking at how online can also support wholesale partners – such as featuring their logos next to products and flagging where they can be bought in-store.

“It is a terrifying period for every business out there but also exciting, as it has forced us to be more entrepreneurial,” he says. “We were very lucky to have the tech changes last year to help with the transition, which put us in a good position.”

As we emerge from the crisis, he believes the website will continue to play a key role. “It’s about the product presentation, people know we have the best product in the industry,” he says “You don’t need to have driven a Ferrari to know it’s a great car... and people  buy a lot of things without trying them first.”

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