The Swedish brand of stylish winter sports products Tobe Outerwear is optimizing business operations, boosting sales and heading for new markets
Tobe Outerwear is a Swedish brand that makes comfortable and stylish winter outerwear. Created by Tomas Berntsson out of a passion for snowmobiling, the family-owned company has been on the market for over 20 years, during which time the brand has gained recognition as an innovative manufacturer of the highest-quality purpose-built products for winter sports enthusiasts. Along with its signature monosuits and other outerwear, Tobe makes first-rate boots and gear for winter sports, including gloves, goggles and helmets.
The company primarily sold its products through Scandinavian and European retailers until it launched its own branded online store in 2008. Unlike its competitors, which focus on the vehicles themselves, Tobe stood out by building its products around the lifestyle aspects of snowmobiling and winter sports. Thanks to that focus and an investment in the webstore’s internationalization, the brand has experienced rapid growth in the past few years – especially in non-Swedish markets.
Facing the challenges of scaling and making headway
With the success of online sales and the brand's expansion to markets like the US, Canada, Norway, Germany and France came challenges. As Tobe grew, handling multiple markets on its monolithic ecommerce platform became cumbersome and expensive. The brand had its store on Shopify Plus, which is good enough for beginners and startups, but the platform wasn’t able to keep up with Tobe’s increasing needs. Selling globally was also time-consuming and complicated. For example, a separate setup was required for each new market. This impacted business operations and posed serious problems.
First, Tobe had five different front ends and back ends because the platform couldn’t handle multiple markets under one umbrella. This involved tons of administrative work and led to technical issues. The complex setup slowed the brand’s internal processes and caused itto lag in several markets. And with so many data sources, keeping track of all data proved difficult. What’s more, the team had to collect data manually, which made the task laborious and prone to errors.
On top of that, conversion rate calculations tended to be off. The conversion rate from Shopify Plus was often too low and different from results from web analytics software or manual calculations done in spreadsheets. Some of these issues were also caused by the IT infrastructure, which cost Tobe much effort getting the numbers right and drawing correct conclusions.
Running on generic templates for the storefront, the brand also had difficulties conveying its story and showing the diversity of its offer. As an original brand, Tobe creates its products for snowmobile fans, but it also caters to the needs of a wider consumer base. Tobe has fans among snowboarders, skiers, paragliders and dog sledders — that’s why most of the clothing lines are unisex and designed with various winter activities in mind. But the store’s architecture limited the brand’s options to shape the look and feel of the store and underline the unisex character of its clothes and sports gear.
Additionally, Tobe had trouble adapting the store to a brand image and keeping it consistent. The Swedish store looked different than the Canadian store, and it was impossible to design them in a way to ensure a consistent on-brand experience.
Another roadblock was the lack of B2B commerce functionalities. As a lifestyle brand, Tobe needed support for pre-orders, re-orders and seasonal collections, which the current platform lacked.
A new way forward
It was time for Tobe to take the business to the next level, but that involved overcoming technical limitations. An expert from a design and front-end development agency recommended Centra. Tobe gathered key requirements and pain points and sent questions to different vendors to check if they could address them. Following a few demos and a thorough evaluation, it turned out that replatforming was the brand's best option for scaling. That was how Tobe and Centra sealed the deal. Centra’s headless architecture gave design freedom to customize storefronts and allowed the brand to build one store for multiple markets.
With a new platform, Tobe could finally offer a cohesive on-brand experience for all customer segments. This was possible due to industry-specific features and a complete redesign of the storefront. As a result, Tobe simplified the shopping experience on both ends — for its customers and for themselves.
Migration to a headless, flexible platform enabled Tobe to take advantage of customization and native features such as displays. Now, the brand can present one product in numerous ways, showing it in different contexts, with different models, body types, ethnicities and accessories, depending on the market. This allows for personalizing offers based on a contextual menu. Such an approach enables Tobe to be more inclusive and grow its fan base faster.
Running on a new platform, the brand gained a digital wholesale module that supports business logic for pre-orders and regular orders. This helps Tobe to shorten the sales cycle and simplify order management, which in the US market, for instance, is complex and time consuming.
The thing I like most with Centra is the high flexibility and dedication to the brand’s needs. And this is out of the box. We changed from Shopify Plus to Centra and I can't ever imagine going back, it's like two different worlds with Centra being ecom 2.0.Global Ecommerce Manager at Tobe Outerwear
Impact: 200% increase in sales, less admin work, and enhanced business efficiency
Tobe’s new ecommerce experience for D2C and B2B channels resulted in a 200% rise in sales. The platform switch also improved daily operations for Tobe. The team no longer has to manually collect and organize data from different markets, instead having access to user-friendly reports with cross-border retail data in one place. That gives them more time to analyze and act on that data to boost the business.
With the launch of the new store, Tobe could also rely on Centra’s customer support team. Thanks to that, the migration process was smooth and all issues were solved on the spot. The brand got advice on using Centra to its full potential, and when any issues or questions arose, the customer care team offered personalized assistance. That enabled Tobe to run the business without interruptions or data loss.
Unlike with the previous platform, which often required significant time spent fixing reports, Tobe’s ecommerce managers can now focus on strategy and accelerating the brand’s growth. And with Centra, Tobe has the confidence that the platform will scale with the brand.
For Tobe, innovation and style have always been at the forefront, and the platform switch will ensure that. An upgraded store will help the brand increase awareness outside of the Nordic market and make it easier to expand the business in North America and European markets of winter sports lovers.
To recap, among the results and improvements are:
One store for global markets
200% increase in sales
Over 10m euros forecasted turnover in 2022
The platform change has paved the way for great opportunities for Tobe to elevate its brand and let it grow on a new level in the long run. With an improved store and shopping experience, and more efficient operations, Tobe is on the right track to surpass 10m euros turnover this year.