The sports clothing industry leader Craft Sportswear is expanding direct-to-consumer ecommerce operations globally
Craft Sportswear is a sports apparel brand that’s been on the market since the 1970s – starting out with developing a high‑tech base‑layer fabric for fighter pilots. The original base‑layer eventually led to the creation of the Craft Principle – their famous and innovative 3‑layer concept. Since then, Craft has been developing and selling high‑quality sportswear for people who want to feel good while working out in all possible weather conditions.
Craft Sportswear collaborates with leading athletes from around the world to keep developing the highest quality sportswear and performance wear. Their main way to distribute products is through resellers, but in the past few years they’ve been expanding their direct‑to‑consumer e‑commerce operations around the world. Since 1996, Craft has been a part of New Wave Group, an international company with 40 brands in 21 countries.
Diving into ecommerce
Craft Sportswear’s core business had previously been focused on selling through retailers where they’d built a strong global presence throughout the years – originally through physical retailers, before switching to digital multi‑brand retailers as commerce shifted to the Internet. Eventually, the brand also dove into direct‑to‑consumer ecommerce through their own websites. However, the shift to direct‑to‑consumer had no clear strategy from the beginning, and the company was operated through separate branches on different markets.
For example, they had one branch running ecommerce in the Benelux region, one branch for North America, one branch for Scandinavia etc. These branches ran operations individually, which created a fragmented setup where Craft ended up running several individual ecommerce sites, ranging over several platforms – including Shopify Plus, EpiServer and Magento. The setup eventually became highly inefficient, messy, and created difficulties in moving the brand in the progressive direction they wanted to go in – shifting from a pure base‑layer brand, to a functional sports brand, specialized in both winter and summer sports.
Craft realized something had to be done, and saw an opportunity to strengthen their digital impact and get closer to consumers by switching to a platform that enables them to serve the world from one site, on one platform, operated by one team with a clear strategy.
Centra’s framework lets us do things exactly the way we want to. It gives us a global ecommerce reach with a personalized, localized touch for each and every marketEcommerce Manager at Craft Sportswear
From monolithic to composable
Craft started in 2019, doing market research, analysing competitor tech stacks, and looking for new platform providers. Craft Sportswear’s new e‑commerce manager, Erik Berg, had discovered great things about Centra through industry colleagues and recommended the Craft team to add Centra to their stack. Craft was growing a lot at the time and needed flexibility, as their previous ecommerce architecture was fragmented across several different platforms.
After extensive research, Craft Sportswear signed with Centra in the beginning of 2020, and spent the first year structuring the brand's ecommerce architecture. It was an extensive project that included migrating Crafts fragmented ecommerce platform setup, to Centra. It also included re‑building the ecommerce team and streamlining operations so that one team controlled all of the brand's 30+ global markets through one store.
For design and implementation, Craft teamed up with Grebban – a solution partner of Centra, famous for building award winning ecommerce sites for the likes of Sandqvist, Verso Skincare, Ideal of Sweden and many more.
Together with Grebban and Centra, Craft started the migration from EpiServer, Shopify Plus and Magento. The project included a complete re‑design and branding update, a migration to the Centra platform, and completely updating the tech‑stack. No longer did Craft Sportswear have to worry about being limited from implementing new technology, or turning such an implementation into an expensive IT‑project, as Centra’s flexible APIs and solid integrations gave them the foundation to build a store with a best‑of‑breed approach that was tailored to their specific needs.
Throughout the development process, they found an optimal way to utilize Centra for managing their data The product data that Craft saw as crucial for a direct‑to‑consumer business was not always in line with what they had, Craft needed to utilize several different data sources in order to make the product data complete. Using Centra's PIM and using both automatic integrations with data and some manual imports enabled Craft to run an efficient ecommerce business before the company had a complete setup with direct‑to‑consumer oriented data flows.
Switching from our previous monolithic setup to Centra’s headless build has enables us to iterate fast and implement new technology and solutions without turning it into an expensive and complex IT‑projectEcommerce Manager at Craft Sportswear
Impact: A solid foundation and increased website traffic by +100%
With the new digital flagship store on the Centra platform in place, Craft Sportswear had a new foundation that helped them scale and accelerate their business. They went from multiple‑local websites to a global suite of localized Direct‑to‑Consumer sites, all managed from one system and team.
With the Centra platform in place Craft Sportswear has taken their brand and ecommerce to a completely different level. Both website traffic and revenue are up by +100%, serving the global market with localized products, content, campaigns, and more. With 2020 in the rear‑view, Craft Sportswear has some very impressive numbers to showcase:
Increased website traffic by +100%
Ecommerce revenue up by +100%
ONE tight‑knit team serving the world
But most importantly, the brand is now globally local – managing global ecommerce operations in one system that connects localized versions of their website.