Viking Outdoor Footwear is a Norwegian brand that makes protective, comfortable and durable footwear for kids and adults. Over the years, they have set trends in footwear and business. Now, they’re leveraging headless technology to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Viking Outdoor Footwear is a Norwegian brand that makes protective, comfortable and durable footwear for kids and adults. Founded in 1920, they revolutionized the footwear industry by combining innovation with natural rubber. Their purpose is to create a world where everyone can be an explorer. Viking shares their customers' love for the outdoors, making shoes that enable them to enjoy anything from backyard adventures to long hikes uncovering the magic of nature’s small wonders. Over the years, they have not only influenced the footwear landscape but also contributed to shaping Norwegian industrial history. To this day, Viking is setting the standards, now by leveraging headless technology to deliver the best customer experience.
Challenges that came with success
The success of online European expansion brought the shortcomings of Viking’s ecommerce strategy into focus. Before Centra, they were working with a well-known market player delivering on-premise legacy monolithic ecommerce platform that was a front-end provider as well. It could not deliver the speedy front end Viking wanted, and it had an out-of-date and complex back end. On the top of that, it wasn’t meant to serve footwear business logic. Due to the lack of crucial footwear-focused features out of the box, it required a lot of dedicated development and integrations before launch. With a few thousand orders per year, Viking had to reinvest a significant amount of revenue in the maintenance of the platform. Instead of focusing on new features and improving the customer experience, they spent time and money on plugin conflicts and struggled with various bugs and the overall instability of their tech stack.
On top of the everyday challenges, one-size-fits-all ecommerce platforms are well known for their code-breaking upgrades. They’re tested within the universal setup without considering particular plugins and dedicated development. This causes plugin conflicts and performance issues, and in the worst-case scenario, it leads to downtime. Viking was experiencing downtime, and their plans to grow direct-to-consumer (DTC) revenue were impossible to achieve with this tech configuration.
At the same time, Viking was using two separate platforms for their DTC sales and Wholesale, which made it really difficult to track inventory and stock even with the help of Aspect4 (an ERP solution for handling inventory and orders). This negatively impacted business operations and caused additional expenses.
Viking were never ones to follow the crowd. They’ve always looked for changes that can be made to achieve new standards. So, when the current platform wasn’t able to satisfy Viking’s ambitions, they were ready to look for a better-suited technology.
New platform, new technology
Viking knew that they wanted to change the platform as well as make a big switch from legacy monolithic ecommerce technology to more modern SaaS solutions. They were considering Shopify Plus and BigCommerce — popular subscription-based semi-flexible cloud platforms.
Although they were well known, Viking would still be challenged in other areas:
Wholesale would still be run as a separate store.
A separate storefront would be needed for each market. There was only basic internationalization, without proper local catalog management, assigning multiple warehouses per market, local bank accounts, base currencies, payouts, etc.
The total cost of ownership would be high.
Time to market would be long.
Headless technology was new to Viking, and Centra had the pleasure of familiarizing them with the concept. Viking’s brand required individual processes and a custom-fit tech stack that couldn’t be achieved through cooperation with monolithic solutions.
Hanne Sofie Hammer, Viking’s ecommerce manager at the time, soon realized the power that comes from Centra.
Early on, we’ve acknowledged Centra as a growth partner. We knew that their modern and flexible headless SaaS setup would allow us to scale and reach any target we would set for ourselves. They had customers that could tackle massive loads of visitors and orders at a time, without the expense of reduced customer experience/speed on the front end for DTC. That was compelling.B2B ecommerce manager at Viking Footwear
Viking got a powerful platform ready to support their efforts with various native features:
One store for all markets and operations. The Viking team’s jobs became much easier. Previously, they were manually administrating inventory and stock across many different channels like DTC and Wholesale which created room for error and stock discrepancies. Seamless integrations and simplified product uploads have saved time and money for Viking, enabling the team to focus on more value creation. Viking can benefit from individual pricing lists in several currencies with translations of product information. On top of that, they can build different logics for different markets.
Speed in time to market. Headless technology reduces complexity around developing and deploying any changes. It’s highly flexible when it comes to product, pricing, inventory, customer journey and design. This allows Viking to set the trends instead of releasing new features way behind the competition. Centra also has real-time product updates, where all the back-end changes are immediately reflected on the website. There is no need to clear cache or take any additional steps.
Stability. Centra is always running on the best and latest version, with automatic updates fortnightly and 99.5% uptime guaranteed. No plugin conflicts, no performance compromises or overwhelming upgrades.
Clear customer overview. Navigating customer data is easy and efficient. Viking can benefit from: frictionless management of orders, simplified return procedures, centralized shipping information and a quick customer finder.
Product catalog. The structure of the product catlogue is optimal for Viking’s industry. Centra was built with footwear business logic in mind, and it shows. The key features are the ability to create custom attributes and intuitive management of multiple measurement charts.
Friendly UI. Centra’s user interface makes any changes quicker and more efficient.
Highly scalable direct-to-consumer. Viking was able to easily scale their DTC operations internationally using just Centra.
Modern showroom. Setting up the showroom is quick and easy. Viking expected a very short time to market with wholesale, as Centra offered an out-of-the box solution.
Design freedom. Headless technology allowed Viking to design the desired experience and choose the front-end technology to back it up. Not only were they able to express their brand’s character, but they could also provide seamless shopping for their customers. Even more importantly, they can now do any front-end changes at any time.
Another important thing was Centra’s total cost of ownership. Viking found the platform to be very cost effective.
Above all, the most important change was that before launching on Centra, they were focused on platform maintenance. Since that time, they have been able to switch their focus to growing their business and providing the best possible customer experience.
The impact of partnership
Viking has experienced immense growth over the past two years. With the value created by Centra as listed above, they’ve accomplished their plan to significantly increase DTC revenue.
Throughout our relationship, we continually work on new integrations, both custom and native. The product board allows Viking to have their voice heard democratically as clients, which is highly valued and allows a direct conversation with the product managers in the Centra team. Our team’s overall knowledge of the platform, right down to our support agents, is superior to their previous experiences with similar solutions. Our account managers are never afraid to delve deeper into challenges. In fact, the ability to explore existing truths is rather unique in Centra’s case. Each customer is assigned a dedicated Customer Success Manager that accompanies them on the growth journey. Your CSM is always involved, interested, well informed and ready to help you achieve your goals.
Senior management and founders have retained involvement and interest in clients and projects, and Viking has found a strong, client-centric culture. The opportunity to build true relationships, not only between brands, but also between the people that create them, is very important for us and for Viking.
B2B and B2C Ecommerce Managers Hanne Sofie Hammer and Ellen Bugge are strong advocates for the platform. Having worked across many different types of solutions previously, they’ve found the efficiency, stability and ease of business that Centra delivers to exceed their expectations.
Viking Footwear's current e-commerce tech-stack on Centra:
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