The luxury, global menswear brand Eton reinvents its business with a digital wholesale showroom and endless aisle D2C capabilities
Established in 1928 in Sweden, Eton is one of the world’s most elite brands of luxury dress shirts and accessories. Their product portfolio includes sharp dress shirts, casual shirts, overshirts, silk pocket squares, scarves, ties and bow ties. Known for its dedication, excellent quality, elegance, and fine craftsmanship optimized with technology, the brand aims to inspire confidence and express individuality.
Eton bets on sustainability, which is applied through their partnerships with suppliers and their products’ design and longevity. Eton expanded from a local company into a global brand that now sells their finest clothing and accessories in over 1,500 locations worldwide, including at flagship stores in Stockholm, London, and New York.
The pains of running a wholesale business offline
Eton's success story wasn't always smooth sailing. Over time, with a growing range of products, stores, and business partners, navigating wholesale operations with conventional practices became increasingly difficult and inefficient.
As Eton was launching four collections a year, it required showcasing them to potential customers, which involved arranging samples and handling international in-person visits and meetings with retail distribution and channel partners.
On top of that, Eton’s team had to manually enter orders for tons of products and manage the size distribution. This was a time-consuming process prone to errors. Also, when customers were changing or canceling orders, managing all that was even harder, caused serious friction, and left little room for any up- or cross-sell opportunities.
With such a large wholesale operation and strong physical presence, Eton needed a digitization strategy to streamline operations and enhance the experience for their own team, customers and business partners. The brand had a custom tool to manage selling their collections as preorders, but it wasn’t the right fit for the job. They wanted to operate remotely and efficiently, applying a holistic approach to sustainability across their business. Additionally, innovation has always been part of Eton’s DNA, so it was high time to seek out some modern technology.
Eton charts a new course by launching a digital showroom
Eton’s team considered different wholesale platforms, such as Joor and NuOrder. The problem with many platforms is that they try to squeeze as many features in as possible without thinking of the impact on the customer journey in terms of usability.
The search was on when Eton found Centra, a headless ecommerce platform with both Wholesale and Direct-to-Consumer modules. Centra satisfied the brand’s requirements and was the final choice.
Eton leveraged Centra’s digital showroom to propel their wholesale business to new heights by gaining the capacity to run operations remotely. While rich in features, the platform is user-friendly and intuitive, letting the brand and its customers to easily handle orders nearly error-free.
Managing wholesale processes online helped the team at Eton to minimize the administrative workload because sales representatives didn’t have to manage routine tasks like entering data manually into an ERP system or dealing with mundane paperwork. Instead, they could concentrate on selling and taking care of customers.
Introducing the digital showroom also cut the follow-up time as customers could use self-service and make and edit their orders whenever they wanted.
With the digital transformation of our wholesale operations, we could travel less, and focus on handling more strategic initiatives. We could also limit our admin workload and make salespeople focus on the actual selling.Global Customer Excellence Director at Eton
Boosting direct-to-consumer business
In the meantime, Eton was working on improving its direct-to-consumer channel running on Magento 1. For a while, the setup seemed to be fine, but when Magento was bought by Adobe, it stopped developing the open-source version and focused on the premium tier, now branded Adobe Commerce.
Eton used the Magento sunset as an opportunity to move all commerce operations to one platform and integrate all services into a neat package. Although the migration will be completed later in 2023, Eton’s team relies on Centra as the core for all their business operations, which enables in-store orders and preorders for the direct-to-consumer segment and preorders and reorders for the wholesale segment.
Switching to Centra allows the brand to rebuild its front end with a headless Next.js storefront to ensure an enhanced customer experience.
Centra’s composable architecture lets Eton use the best-of-breed microservices that best fit their setup. A composable stack with customizable building blocks gives the brand the ability to improve their conversion rates, scale, adopt new technologies, easily upgrade the store to fit Eton’s needs and stay competitive in the future. And with Centra support’s technical expertise, the brand can shift its business into high gear smoothly.
Enhancing the shopping experience
The headless back end and the front end built with Next.js makes it possible for the app to look almost exactly like the online store. In this way, Eton can ensure a visually coherent shopping experience.
Frictionless reorders and preorders
Using the same setup and software, Eton’s staff can place a B2B order when they find that a given store is running low on certain products and avoid the risk of losing sales due to insufficient stock in-store. Alternatively, customer service can use this setup for B2B reorders at any location across different retail and channel partners. In addition, by connecting stores under one platform and a single back end, preordering and reordering require only a few clicks – this cuts down on admin work for Eton’s team and streamlines order flows.
By leveraging Centra as the back-end engine, Eton was able to introduce an endless aisle initiative to bring together their sales professionals' expertise with access to an unlimited assortment around the clock. As a result, the brand can showcase its products and allow customers to order custom shirts and search and shop for items unavailable in-store. In addition, this gives customers more choice and convenience in shopping and getting their orders delivered – Eton offers home address delivery and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up in Store), allowing their customers to receive the order even faster.
Adopting an endless aisle strategy grants Eton’s sales associates a tool that helps them sell while holding less inventory in-store. Despite limited shelf space, Eton’s shoppers can purchase exactly what they want, and are never left empty-handed. Finally, the brand builds customer loyalty through an enjoyable and seamless buying experience.
Introducing the made-to-measure offering
Being a customer-focused brand, Eton added the made-to-measure feature to offer shirts that customers can tailor to their liking. Shoppers can customize a shirt using a vast selection of fabrics, as well as sleeve, waist, collar and chest measurements. They can also choose from different collar or cuff types, and add or remove pockets and monograms.
We now use Centra as a core foundation for all the business we do, including in-store operations, preorders and reorders.Global Customer Excellence Director at Eton
Eton’s current ecommerce tech stack on Centra:
|Wholesale and B2B
|Front end framework
|Front end partner
|Aino - https://aino.agency/work/eton-shirts
|Front end hosting
|Email automation and loyalty
Impact: Outpacing competition, boosting wholesale, and increasing sustainability
The commitment to innovation gave Eton a competitive edge during the Covid pandemic. While Covid caught most brands off guard, forcing them to scramble for solutions to showcase their products to clients while remaining socially distant, Eton already had a digital showroom in place. The brands’ customers could browse and order from the entire collection.
The new showroom optimizes preorder and reorder flows. It enables all partners to see upcoming collections and manage multiple orders simultaneously regardless of location. This makes buying quick and easy. In addition, the showroom offers tools that help Eton’s wholesale partners make better selections, recap their purchases, and visualize fashion items for in-store displays.
Introducing a digital showroom also supports Eton’s sustainability efforts, cutting the travel footprint, reducing the need for in-person meetings, and decreasing waste by eliminating the need for printed materials.
By reducing travel and face-to-face meetings, sales professionals could devote more time and resources to serving more customers, paving the way for the brand’s further expansion.
Having moved their wholesale business online, Eton also improved and automated the cancellation process. Sales reps don’t need to travel to customers to cancel and place new orders, which saves time and money and aligns with the brand’s environmental commitment. The new process translated into new up-sell options for Eton as the brand could easily replace the canceled offer with another one through the digital showroom, which is also more convenient for customers.
Eton’s main highlights and achievements include:
Enhancing customers’ buying experience
Implementing endless aisle
Optimizing wholesale preorder and reorder flows
Improving the cancellation handling process for Eton’s customers and for themselves
Reducing admin work
Achieving frictionless wholesale operations
Introducing customer self-service
Automating the order cancellation process
Reducing waste and travel footprint