Ashley Chemtov
Partner Marketing Manager @ Yotpo
July 2nd, 2020

“How We Built This” is a series of online discussions with some of Yotpo’s leading design and development agency partners and mutual brands, focusing on what goes into a successful website build. 

Table Of Contents

UpWest, a D2C division of retail powerhouse Express, was created with holistic comfort in mind, with products that provide a sense of peace and tranquility for the mind, body, and soul. The brand’s aesthetic evokes the mood and visuals of the Pacific Northwest, and they set out to create a website that would capture this vibe while introducing themselves and their products to the world. 

As a new brand with a strong vision and cause, UpWest needed to bring all of that to life online. They turned to Shopify Plus and D2C experts BVA to create the optimal shopping experience that would merge the transactional and functional aspects of an eCommerce site with the look and feel that represented the UpWest brand. BVA worked with the UpWest team to define their strategy, select a powerful tech stack, and build a clean and sophisticated website that is optimized for conversion and inspires long-term loyalty.  

Here are five lessons they learned along the way. 

1. Balance brand values, beauty, and functionality to maximize conversion

While it’s critical for any brand to bring their vision and ethos to life in a transactional environment, putting this into practice can be tricky. For many merchants, it can be challenging to create an on-brand website that is both beautiful and functional.

With BVA’s support, UpWest were able to achieve this by creating an immersive “content meets commerce” on-site experience, infusing their brand values and ideals into their copy and imagery. Their blog features content related to their overall goal of providing comfort and relaxation, subtly guiding readers to product pages and, ultimately, to checkout.    

2. Let the data drive prioritization and decision-making

Data is gold for eCommerce brands, but it can be tricky to determine which metrics to focus on and to extract actionable insights. This can be especially challenging for new brands that don’t have historical data as a benchmark for comparison. 

UpWest solves this by focusing on critical site traffic and engagement metrics to ensure they are attracting their target audience. By looking at what shoppers are doing once they arrive on-site, which pages they view, and how much time they spend on each, as well as, how many people are getting through to checkout and converting, they are able to continually optimize and streamline the path to purchase and increase conversions. 

For example, after noticing a trend of people shopping for products at the collection level, particularly on mobile, BVA advised UpWest to implement a quick “add to cart” button, enabling shoppers to add the items they were browsing directly to their carts in one step. This small change simplified the path to purchase and significantly impacted CVR. 

3. Choose a tech stack that provides value for the present and future

For many eCommerce brands, there is no more impactful decision than which solutions to choose for their tech stack. It all starts with selecting an eCommerce platform.  

UpWest evaluated multiple eCommerce platforms and ultimately selected Shopify Plus, a decision that involved many factors, including: 

  • Scalability: UpWest wanted a platform that would meet their current requirements and grow with them as they mature. 
  • Recognition: UpWest were looking for a platform that has a reputation for helping brands grow, taking inspiration from brands like UNTUCKit that started as a digitally-native D2C and continued to evolve, eventually opening retail stores. 
  • Core functionality: UpWest needed a platform that would provide the right amount of “out of the box” capabilities to provide the structure and stability they needed as a new brand, along with the flexibility to adjust as they grow. 

With a strong platform as the base, the next step is to narrow down a critical group of core solutions to round out the tech stack. Although it can be tempting to choose a variety of solutions for every pain point, it’s important for brands to keep their business needs and objectives at the forefront of every decision. 

Sticking to this best practice, BVA carefully mapped out UpWest’s requirements and goals, and applied a selective approach, pinpointing the essentials that provide the best value along with the most immersive customer experience. 

  • ESP: A communications tool is a non-negotiable. UpWest uses Klaviyo as their ESP for its flexibility, scalability, and ease of integration with Shopify Plus.  
  • Returns Management: As an apparel brand selling online, UpWest knew they had to prepare for the inevitability of returns and they selected Narvar as their solution of choice. 
  • UGC, Loyalty, and Referrals: UpWest wanted to launch their brand with an outstanding shopping experience and start building long-term loyalty right out of the gate. Yotpo’s eCommerce marketing platform provided the UGC and Loyalty capabilities they were looking for and was easy to integrate, customize, and deploy on the Shopify Plus platform.    

Looking ahead, UpWest is planning on evolving with an affiliate solution as well as a more innovative “buy now, pay later” payment solution. 

4. Leverage UGC at key touchpoints to enhance the on-site experience

Whether it’s on the homepage, product page, or at checkout, influential UGC plays a critical role in enhancing the shopping journey and simplifying the path to purchase for new and returning customers alike. 

UpWest uses Yotpo’s Smart Filters feature to allow shoppers to filter reviews by what is relevant for them, on criteria such as size, fit, and reviewer body type. Particularly in the apparel vertical where return rates are higher, reviews and UGC help mimic the experience of trying the item on — lowering return and exchange rates and improving the overall customer experience. 

5. Create a loyalty program that incentivizes shoppers to make repeat purchases

An intelligent, well-crafted loyalty program is a must for any eCommerce brand that’s looking to drive value from customers. However, not all loyalty programs are created equal, and it can be tricky to create one that truly connects with customers, inspiring them to make repeat purchases and spread the word to their family and friends.   

UpWest knew they wanted to launch their brand and website with a strong loyalty program in place to establish strong connections early in the lifecycle and build on that over time to drive LTV. They worked closely with BVA to create the Compass Club and incentivize customers beyond making purchases by awarding points for leaving reviews, sharing content, and engaging on social.

Want more How We Built This?

To watch the complete session with BVA and UpWest, skip to 21:55 in the video below: 

To sign up for our July DSTN Online event featuring a new How We Built This session, click here.

Contributed to the article: Ashley Chemtov