Yeti Cycles Adopts Headless Commerce to Merge CX With Powerful E-Commerce Engine
Headquartered in Golden, Colorado, Yeti Cycles was founded in 1985 before mountain biking was even considered an industry. The brand quickly found its niche in producing world-class racing bikes. Over the years, Yeti Cycles grew one of the most widely recognized race teams in mountain bike history and won numerous world and national championships. The company has also led the charge in industry advancements, continually creating bikes that define and push the boundaries of the sport.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, there was a renewed demand for outdoor fitness products, and the cycling industry at large experienced an overwhelming demand from consumers. While Yeti Cycles was already considered a premium bike brand with a beautifully designed site that served its brand needs well, there were challenges in managing the site and connecting back-end systems, which significantly limited the marketing team's ability to effectively manage the site without the support of a developer.
Creating the Customer Experience
2020 was about survival for many brands. Companies had to be innovative as retail sales moved almost entirely online. Every business had to adapt in some way, whether it was setting up a website to sell direct to consumers for the first time or optimizing a current platform. Yeti Cycles fell into the latter category.
The company was using a collection of e-commerce tools, including Shopify, Magento 1 and Readymag, and required a developer’s help any time its marketing team wanted to add new content or products. This proved to be a huge challenge. Desiring to build a new site on a single back-end platform to improve usability and give more control to its internal teams, Yeti Cycles tapped The ZaneRay Group to design a new online store that would combine an engaging, customer-facing website and powerful e-commerce engine powering and connecting it behind the scenes.
ZaneRay’s team noted the old site provided few options for customizing product pages and cross-selling merchandise. More importantly, Yeti’s primary goal was to introduce consumers to its brand culture, showing the experiences that can only happen on a Yeti. The company wanted consumers to see the bikes in action on the site, but the limitations of the site forced it to prioritize updates based on whether resources were readily available to make the changes. Yeti Cycles was also forced to consider whether the updates were then worth the time and expense.
Striking the Right Balance
Yeti Cycles knew the key to solving its problems was striking the right balance between creating and upholding a premium brand experience while updating and enhancing e-commerce performance. Doing so requires a solid back end and a versatile front-end interface to provide a superior end-to-end shopping experience. For Yeti Cycles, the solution was clear: the company needed to take advantage of emerging headless commerce architecture in order to best achieve both their branding and commerce needs.
Headless commerce platforms allow merchants the freedom to build and customize their websites and take full control over the customer experience (CX). Yeti Cycles and ZaneRay researched several SaaS e-commerce platforms before landing on BigCommerce for its flexible API framework. BigCommerce emerged as the platform best suited to support the needs of the brand.
Design and feature enhancements were made to the site to create a rich brand experience that also allowed customers to identify their local brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers for purchasing bikes. In addition, while Yeti Cycles doesn't sell its bikes direct to consumers, it does offer a premium apparel line that can be purchased on the site. Behind the scenes lives the Pro and B2B e-commerce stores, where retailers and racing teams build and purchase bikes. Organizing complex product and bike customization data, then connecting it to all the applications that use it, proved to be a monumental task given the nature of what it takes to support the purchase of a fully customizable bike online. Supported by the Open SaaS solutions from BigCommerce, Yeti Cycles now has the benefit of having integrated back-end systems, enabling the team to make informed site adjustments based on data-driven insights — and do so quickly and independently, without the need for a developer.
By leveraging BigCommerce product data, reusable components, and ZaneRay’s design system, Yeti Cycles’ marketing team now has the flexibility to build new web pages within minutes, upload real-time content, and fully automate new product launches. What once took weeks to sometimes a month now takes moments to upload and schedule.
For instance, the company released its new bike model, SB115, just four days after the site launched. Approximately one month later, a new limited edition ARC 35th Anniversary model launched. The marketing team seamlessly built the product page leveraging the benefits of a headless architecture and BigCommerce product data.
This launch facilitated the most site traffic Yeti Cycles had seen in years, with 85,500 page views and more than 38,000 sessions by 32,500 users. On top of that, the bike sold out in less than two hours. Since the launch of the new site with BigCommerce, Yeti Cycles has seen a 53 percent year-over-year increase in users, a 44 percent increase in sessions, and a 36 percent increase in page views.
Headless commerce is setting the bar for companies that want best-in-class commerce tools with the benefit of creating and supporting a more immersive and premium brand experience, leveraging a more robust CMS to support those experiences. Yeti Cycles' website is much more than a place to purchase products; it creates deep connections to its customers by providing a comprehensive expression of the brand, engaging them on a deeper level and inspiring them to buy.
Moving forward, Yeti Cycles is focused on expansion efforts. As one of the few mountain bike brands with a premium apparel line, the company plans on introducing three new collections. The enhancements made to its site via BigCommerce and ZaneRay will allow for even more precise marketing efforts to explore new channels for more seamless product launches.
Kirk Cornelius is strategic director at The ZaneRay Group, a design and development agency.