American Giant Grows by Selling Direct to Consumer
Manufacturers selling direct to consumers is a growing trend that's caught the attention of the retail industry. Eliminating the middlemen (i.e., retailers) isn't without its challenges for manufacturers, but often the opportunity outweighs the risks. Such is the case for American Giant, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based manufacturer and online seller of men's and women's apparel, including its classic hoodies.
In an interview with Jennifer Patchen, director of site operations, American Giant, at the Demandware XChange Conference in Hollywood, Fla. this week, she discussed the apparel brand's rapid growth trajectory and how e-commerce fits into its future.
As American Giant's e-commerce business grew rapidly, so too did its needs for its commerce platform. After deciding that a new platform was necessary – its previous platform wasn't reliable and able to scale for American Giant's rapid growth, Patchen said – American Giant chose Demandware's Commerce Cloud platform. The company went live on the Demandware platform in July 2015 after a six-month implementation.
“Demandware was very reliable and the infrastructure was able to scale with our business,” Patchen said. “It's a leader in the platform space.”
Patchen cited the merchandising capabilities that are available on Demandware's platform, as well as the speed at which updates to the platform are implemented as key upgrades for American Giant. Furthermore, the peer groups of Demandware customers in which American Giant participates have been very helpful to Patchen and her team as they look to leverage all the capabilities of the platform to their fullest extent.
“We've been maintaining really good relationships with other Demandware clients, getting their insights on best practices and what they're seeing, and how we can learn from them,” Patchen said. “That's been really helpful.”
American Giant's core customers skew younger, with most being classified as millennials. According to Patchen, millennials have shown a desire for authentic product, and are interested in how it's made, the people making it and the conditions in which those people are working. American Giant prides itself on having its manufacturing facilities in the United States and producing high-quality products.
With the majority of its customers younger, American Giant has made mobile a key initiative for 2016. It's currently seeing about 45 percent of its site traffic coming from mobile devices, and nearly 40 percent of all transactions are occurring on mobile. Patchen figures that both those numbers will only continue to rise. Therefore, American Giant is focusing in on three specific areas for improving the shopping experience on its mobile site:
- site speed: the average page load time on American Giant's mobile site has already been cut by about 5 seconds, Patchen said, leading to a 23 percent increase in conversion, but there's still room for improvement;
- checkout: moving to PayPal Express and one-click checkout, with credit card data stored enabling faster checkout for repeat customers; and
- design: optimizing the header, refinement bars for an easier shopping experience.
Our customer is very young and tech-savvy, so they're very comfortable checking out on their phone, Patchen noted. “I'm happy with where mobile is, but I think there's more opportunity there.”
Related story: True Religion Working to Bring Digital In-Store