It has been almost sixty years since Frank Varner opened his first store in Oslo in 1962. The second store came three years later and since then, the company literary has been a complete growth success story. Today, several concept and store establishments later, Varner is one of the largest and leading omnichannel fashion retailing companies in Scandinavia with several well-known, high-profile brands under its umbrella, including Junkyard, Bik Bok, Cubus, Dressmann, Levi’s Store (Franchise), Carlings and Volt. The company has more than 8,000 employees across some 1,200 stores, with a revenue exceeding €1 Billion Euro 2020.
Varner is a multi-brand company focused on fashion retailing and has mainly grown through development of successful brands over time. As this type of companies grow, so does the number of supporting commerce systems to run and maintain. In many cases, it can be a burden to the company. It is also a challenge to build a commerce site while maintaining great performance, which does not deteriorate over time, as more products are introduced.
The solution for Varner also needed to contribute to the forming of a new common platform, serving every brand within the Varner family - a combination of the ERP (M3), CMS (EPI), PIM (InRiver) and the future product discovery/merchandising solution for optimizing online commerce. This future product discovery solution also needed to be flexible enough for the Varner tech team to customize it for specific needs, including the handling of PIM (Product Information Management) specific entities like bundles, etc.
Another challenge was to provide an overall better user experience, including more efficient and personalized search, filtering, and faceting for recommending the most relevant products with every listing.
However, it seemed like Varner, with the acquisition of Junkyard in 2019, had stumbled upon the right solution for achieving all of that.
With the acquisition of Junkyard, the Varner team had added Voyado Elevate to their technology stack, something that turned out to have quite a few pleasant side effects. Junkyard had been running Elevate for a few years and were very pleased with the system and how the combination of automation and merchandiser control enabled them to increase operational efficiency as well as revenue. With Elevate, Junkyard had managed to handle its expanding product catalogs without jeopardizing the performance of the e-commerce site, something that had proven to be a challenge shared by other companies within the Varner group.
The decision was taken to roll out a version of Elevate, specialized for fashion and lifestyle retailers, across all Varner companies. In the case of Junkyard, the migration to this specialized version turned out to be a very smooth experience which could be managed internally with only little support from the Voyado team. The migration was successfully completed in early 2021 and the other companies were soon to follow.
As of now, the Varner companies are running a combination of M3, EPIserver, inRiver, Elevate, several microservices, and a big data platform for supporting the different systems with updates in assortments, campaigns, pricing information, etc.
Screenshot of junkyards website
Varner is very pleased with the results. Elevate has proven to be just as flexible as it needed to be considering all customizations and special requirements that Varner had. Today there is a seamless feed between the big data component and Elevate. i.e., pricing and campaign information.
Personalized content increases conversion rate
One thing that really stands out is the way that Elevate shows personalized content for product listings. This feature alone has had a fantastic effect on the overall conversion rate. The recommendations are also considerably better than with the previous solution.
Our e-commerce managers and merchandisers are very pleased with Elevate. The results we see are much better, said Henning Fladland, Product Manager at Varner Tech.
To further simplify for merchandisers, Elevate offers more filtering and sorting options including filtering on price and discount.
Great trust in speed and performance
Another positive thing is that the Varner companies now can rely on Elevate for generating and providing all the data where product information is displayed. With the previous setup, this was done from a combination of sources and tended to lower the performance considerably.
Today, we rely on Elevate for generating some of the most data intensive pages on our sites. Elevate also allows us to handle more traffic than before, with better performance and response times. This is very positive and allows us to trust in our site performance even during peak events such as Black Friday, Henning Fladland concludes.