One client. One agency. Joint success.
Douglas is the number one premium beauty retailer in Europe with more than 300,000 products in online stores, partner programmes and around 2,000 shops in 26 European countries. In 2020/21, Douglas made sales of €3.1 billion in the areas of perfumery, decorative cosmetics, skin and hair care, nutritional supplements, health and accessories. Douglas also boasts one of the largest loyalty programmes in Europe, with over 40 million Beauty Card holders.
In order to remain a leader in the future, Douglas has committed itself to the Digital First principle. The multidimensional Douglas system calls for a unified service structure. Douglas chose DEPT® as its partner to implement this complex strategy. Thanks to its full service specialisms and global scale, DEPT® is able to provide Douglas with targeted support in a wide range of areas such as design, data consulting, SEO and digital marketing campaigns. One client, one agency and one big goal for the future: #FOWARDBEAUTY.digitalfirst
Product Design & Content
After an extensive corporate identity update as part of its rebrand in 2018, DEPT® revised the design of the entire online presence for the online store relaunch, including UX, UI and content across all markets. In addition, DEPT® developed the Douglas design system, and supported Web3/Virtual Experiences, live shopping on the Douglas LIVE channel, digital branding and guidelines, and email marketing.
DEPT® had already coordinated and managed the SEO optimisation for three countries for Douglas in 2014. In 2020, the support grew to up to 14 markets, with more to follow. With quick wins as well as extensive measures, Douglas together with DEPT® succeeded in improving long-term performance sustainably.
The modern, scalable data intelligence landscape paves the way to a data-driven future. The DEPT® data and intelligence team takes care of data consulting and a specially developed Data Intelligence Hub (MVP) for Douglas. The Data Partner Portal (MVP) was developed by DEPT® and enables partners and brands to access data insights and evaluate complex metrics.
Team Lead Analytics Engineering & BI
Inspiring and entertaining fans all over the globe
2022 came with clear goals for Inter. After updating the brand identity and iconic crest, together with Bureau Borsche, this year was all about overhauling Inter’s digital channels. With football becoming increasingly more digital — from Esports to global fandom and all kinds of digital ownership — Inter is ready to take on a leading position. And so, the following question arose: ‘How can we make our digital channels relevant for a broader global target audience?’ DEPT® answered and led the strategy, design and development of the new app and website.
The key takeaways
Growing the global fandom
Football wouldn’t be football without the fans. And don’t the Nerazzuri know it. To cater to a global audience that might be interested in ‘more’ than football, we settled upon a new digital experience strategy with a focus on Milanese culture, players and stories. Content is truly king here. The same goes for Inter TV, which gives fans around the world access to a whole bunch of video content. Still, anything and everything match related is of course also available in the new Match Center, which comes with engagement features such as ‘Man of the match’. Last but not least, a differentiation is also applied into the channel strategy, with web focussing mainly on (international) sports fans whereas the app is really meant for the hardcore fans of the black and blues.
Fans can now follow Inter in a more immersive way through the website and app that have been renewed thanks to the valuable collaboration with DEPT®
Luca Danovaro, Chief Revenue Officer at FC Internazionale Milano
Boosting sponsor activations
The new website and app host a myriad of commercial opportunities for both Inter and their sponsors, partners and advertisers. These range from well-known options such as bannering and promotional slots, to more exclusive options such as dedicated microsites with custom immersive experiences that really put Inter’s key sponsors and partners in the spotlight. The first microsite was launched in early July to present the new 2022 kits together with Nike. Other than that, Inter’s digital channels make use of accounts behind a login that give access to Inter TV and unlock exclusive content and other benefits.
Connecting brand to culture
For Inter, football is one side. Culture is the other. So it comes as no surprise that culture gets a prominent spot in the channels. Players are pushed forward on culture pages, sharing their stories, interests and likes beyond football. With around 1 out of 5 fans more interested in the player than in the game (according to The European Football Benchmark 2021) there’s certainly a demand to fill here. In the future, Inter will expand their culture pages with a focus on (local) celeb fans and their love for Milan — making the global local.
Just like on the field, in order to succeed digitally a great strategy is a must. That’s why all channels have dedicated roadmaps. These contain several future releases with new pages around collaborations and the Milanese culture, an ‘IM Premium’ account tier with even more content and benefits, special microsites with other sponsors, exclusive Inter NFTs and much more. The new digital channels are just the beginning of Inter’s commitment to becoming a leading club in terms of digital fan engagement and experience. Forza Inter!
FORZA INTER! Explore the website
Head of Strategy
A modern data stack for Douglas
To be successful in today’s e-commerce world, a scalable business intelligence solution for product, marketing and customer analysis is essential. Recognising this, Douglas – Europe’s leading platform for premium beauty and health products – turned to DEPT® to act as a service provider, enabler and partner in the development of a central data platform.
Data rows per month from 30+ data sources
The starting position
When DEPT®’s data team first started working with Douglas two years ago, the brand had an evolved IT infrastructure with a database that was difficult to scale, slow processes and static tools. It needed an overhaul, to ensure Douglas could benefit from a modern, fast, scalable and flexible data stack.
As the performance capacity of the existing system was limited, certain analyses could not be carried out to the desired extent and depth. In addition, there was an enormous manual effort in reporting because data from different countries and companies had to be merged. In particular, analyses that required a combination of data (e.g. tracking and marketing data), from different tools took a long time before insights could be gained.
The design of a modern data stack
Together with Douglas, we were able to identify optimisation potential in three key areas:
As Douglas’ own IT resources for new integrations were limited, we recommended Fivetran. This software allows data to be extracted from various sources and loaded into data warehouses. Today, Douglas is Fivetran’s largest customer in Europe.
Data storage and transformation
Before Douglas turned to us, they had already chosen Snowflake cloud data platform, an ideal fit for Douglas’ challenges and objectives. For data transformation, we relied on our own SQL Runner.
Data activation and visualisation
We conducted a thorough comparison of visualisation tools across eleven categories and over 50 requirements, as defined by Douglas. Tableau was identified as the best solution, and is now gradually being established by Douglas as a central, self-service tool.
The data stack in action
Thanks to the use of the above tools, data management for Douglas is now significantly easier, more efficient and more effective.
The days of manually combining dozens of Excel files to produce a simple sales report are over. We have been able to make a significant contribution to ensuring that data from all Douglas subsidiaries is now available in the same format in one central location, and that metrics are standardised across the company.
In the past, a great deal of manual effort was required to produce Excel reports that were sent to the board on a weekly basis. Now, the data for the reports is processed fully automatically and made available in the visualisation tool, so that the C-level at Douglas has the latest reports every morning before they even have their first coffee.
Basis for self-service
Thanks to the newly created data platform, the teams at Douglas are for the first time able to carry out tool-supported, independent data analyses on a large scale. Standardised KPIs, Tableau training, and the connection of new data sources enable them to easily find the data they need and visualise it. As a result, reports can now be created independently by employees and the workload of Douglas’ IT department is reduced.
Planning & Forecasting
In close cooperation with Douglas, data from Snowflake is also used in forecasting tools for planning, for example with regard to inventory and pricing. But that’s not all; in order to enable automated, data-driven decisions and to further increase the degree of independence of the teams in the future, we are currently working with selected Douglas departments to prepare a business case for the use of reverse ETL solutions such as Hightouch or Census.
Ready for a data-driven, digital future
Thanks to the modern data stack, Douglas saves the time of around a full-time position, according to its own calculations. With data integration via Fivetran, data storage via Snowflake on Azure, DEPT®’s own SQL Runner for data transformation, and Tableau as a visualisation solution, Douglas has reached a first major milestone in digitalisation. We are pleased to be able to continue to accompany Douglas on the path to a data-driven, digital future.
Thanks to its high level of technological expertise, DEPT® is the ideal partner for the modernisation of our data stack. The implemented technology is not an end in itself, but optimally aligned with our business needs.
Jonas Rashedi, Director of Data Intelligence & Technologies, Douglas
HYPEWEAR by ABOUT YOU – the first online shop for digital fashion
ABOUT YOU is one of the fastest growing e-commerce companies and one of the leading online fashion retailers in Europe, driving innovative projects and seeing itself as an industry pioneer in digital fashion. ABOUT YOU approached DEPT® with the vision to create an online shop for digital fashion. The aim: making digital fashion items accessible to the general public. DEPT® supported end-to-end, as both consultant and implementation partner.
Virtual Fashion – unlimited possibilities
First, the HYPEWEAR brand was created and the CI designed, both in close coordination with ABOUT YOU. DEPT® then conceptualized and developed the HYPEWEAR digital fashion online shop based on the agency’s own Algomart solution. As a last step, DEPT® created a teaser video for the high-profile launch of HYPEWEAR.
In addition to the fashion e-commerce business, ABOUT YOU aims to conquer the virtual fashion space and offer customers a wide variety of outfits. Virtual fashion allows creators to design pieces that are not wearable in real life or could not exist like this such as a jacket made of virtual flowers, a dress made of dancing tulle elements, or other unusual voluminous highlight pieces. There are different collections available in the HYPEWEAR shop; some of them are rare and limited in number, others are available more often. Customers have the opportunity to express themselves in a completely new way and to present themselves digitally; this is particularly relevant for Gen Z with regard to the fluid understanding of their identity.
It’s all ABOUT YOU
With the new platform for digital fashion, there are no physical limits to the customers’ own self-expression. HYPEWEAR is a first mover to offer digital fashion and, according to its motto ‘From Tech to Human’, the items are not only affordable for digital fashion fans, but also accessible without crypto knowledge. This makes the platform one of the pioneers in the market.
Fast First Mover – fast, simple and intuitive
The aim was to bring a first MVP of the online shop live in the shortest possible time to establish HYPEWEAR as the one-stop store for digital fashion items. The user journey was to be designed as simple and intuitive as possible, even for ‘non-web3 natives’, in order not to exclude anyone and to ensure that every user can purchase digital fashion items. In addition, brands should be able to sell their 3D fashion via HYPEWEAR to provide a large selection of different fashion pieces on the platform for the target group.
An online shop for digital fashion based on the Algorand Blockchain
The selection of the appropriate blockchain was a key part of the project. The main focus was on ensuring that it was ecologically sustainable, fast, and had low processing fees (i.e. fees for mining and transferring the NFTs). DEPT® and ABOUT YOU selected Algorand. This blockchain has a minimal CO2 footprint and enables fast transactions between marketplace and customers.
Through the integrated CMS in the online store, ABOUT YOU can create and upload as many digital fashion items as desired. The occurring processing fees on Algorand are minor.
Thanks to the integration of custodial wallets, the creation of the crypto wallet in which the items are stored is handled directly for the customer in the registration process. This prevents a break in the customer journey, which would be associated with the time-consuming and complicated creation of crypto wallets and the subsequent connection in the store. Even Web3-inexperienced users can receive their digital fashion pieces with ease.
In addition to the 3D model of the respective digital fashion item and the NFT, customers also receive an edited photo of themselves onto which the virtual fashion piece is mapped. This step also fits perfectly into the entire customer journey and is kept as simple as possible. Customers can easily manage their digital fashion items in their profile and use the edited photos for social media.
Within just a few months, DEPT® and ABOUT YOU have created the first online store for digital fashion. HYPEWEAR pushes the boundaries of conventional fashion with three-dimensional fashion pieces. The platform acts as a digital milestone in this field, providing the impulse for many more future-forward, virtual projects.
The metaverse will continue to gain importance in the upcoming years and we see great potential here, which we want to explore together with the experts of DEPT®: We strongly believe in a transition phase of augmented reality, where your physical self presents digital fashion on social media, breaking down the boundaries of the previous fashion world and reaching an even larger audience.
Marius Bingener, Teamlead Content Development, ABOUT YOU
Visit the HYPEWEAR online shop
Director Marketing & Business Development
A personalised Ralph Lauren gifting experience
Luxury fashion brand Ralph Lauren was founded in 1967 and is a global leader in the design, marketing, and distribution of premium lifestyle products, including apparel, accessories, home furnishings, and other licensed product categories. For over five decades, their long-standing reputation and distinctive image have been consistently developed across an expanding number of products, brands, sales channels, and international markets.
For Holiday season 2021 and beyond, Ralph Lauren challenged BYTE/DEPT® to find a way to elevate their existing gifting experience within the digital space.
The challenge: developing a strong bond
The aim was to provide users with a more immersive and personalised method of picking the perfect gift, matching their interests with compatible products available on the Ralph Lauren website. They wanted to develop a strong bond between the brand identity of Ralph Lauren, the digital assistant, and the customer, breaking any barriers of communication and supercharging the journey to finding the perfect gift.
This was coupled with a desire to be pioneers in cutting-edge communications with customers, tapping into emerging, innovative mechanics to bring the gift experience to life.
The solution: a gifting chatbot
Combining data-driven insights from previous gifting chatbots with innovative Instagram platform features, we built one of the first branded Instagram chatbots available in the industry and worldwide.
We optimised the conversation structure based on data collected from the Messenger and WhatsApp gifting bots we’ve previously run, to ensure the best experience for users throughout the Holiday season and beyond. We know how the customers behave and what they like when shopping for gifts, and have taken that to the next level on Instagram.
A personalised journey
The conversation takes you through a personalised journey towards discovering the perfect gift – just like you would in Ralph Lauren’s flagship store on London’s Bond Street.
- Tell us who you’re shopping for and their style
- Match their style with the perfect gift using bespoke Taste Profiles
- Refine your search with dynamic filters (such as price or outerwear) that remember your search history and tailor recommendations accordingly
- NLP functionality that would take you to specific product pages when certain trigger words were typed e.g. ‘jeans’
- Get bespoke product recommendations from a dynamic product feed
We made use of powerful discovery features including automated replies to story @mentions, and DMs to drive new conversations cost effectively. We also built a series of creative assets that were channelled into Ralph Lauren’s paid campaigns to drive traffic to the bot.
One of the first branded Instagram chatbots in the world
Our gifting chatbot saw excellent results in its first few months.
Average of 12k monthly users over Dec 21 – Mar 22
We’ve seen very healthy traffic into the bot, with 3.5x more users on Instagram compared to Messenger and WhatsApp combined.
82% organic traffic
Over 80% of users are introduced to the bot organically, making it very efficient compared to paid media campaigns. Essentially high quality traffic at zero media spend.
6 minutes average time spent on the bot
This is 3x higher than the average time spent on our other gifting bots, showing that users are engaging well with the bot experience.
2.7% click through rate to website
Almost 3% of users that land on the chatbot visit the website and show purchase intent.
0.4% users handed over to Customer Services
Only 0.4% of users required a handover to a live Customer Service agent. This is one of the lowest rates we’ve seen in the industry.
With the chatbot now successfully rolled out in 4 markets (UK, IT, DE and FR) across 4 languages, we’re looking into further expansion across more global Ralph Lauren markets for 2022 and beyond.
Lead Technology Planner at BYTE/DEPT®
Multilingual SEO support for a beauty powerhouse
Douglas’ goals as a leading online retailer for perfume and cosmetics are clear: to consolidate and expand its number one position in Europe, and to be the largest marketplace for beauty and lifestyle in the online sector by 2030. From 2014 to 2019, Douglas regularly relied on the selective support of our SEO experts. Since 2019, Douglas and DEPT® have been working closely together on the structural, technical and content-related optimisation of the e-commerce shops and the outreach activities in numerous countries.
Central control, international market
At Douglas, SEO for all markets is managed centrally from the headquarters in Düsseldorf. The in-house team is responsible for a large number of websites with different requirements, and handles the technical platform, the progress of previous SEO optimisations, the competitive situation, and the available budget.
In order to standardise and simplify the processes while at the same time taking into account the market-specific conditions, Douglas was looking for a competent and trustworthy partner who has experience in managing large international SEO projects and can offer services in many languages.
At the beginning of the partnership, organic search was the problem child of the traffic channels. The challenge was to identify and address the greatest SEO potential for a long-term increase in performance per country. In addition, cross-national synergies were required for up to 14 different markets.The primary goal was always to generate more website hits and net sales via organic search.
Additional goals included:
- Break down the silos between SEO, content, technology, UX/UI and data.
- Increase visibility to rank ahead of the biggest competitors for important keywords.
- Optimise the shop structure as well as the crawlability and indexability of the websites.
- Increase presence in the informational keyword area.
- Support the upcoming relaunch to a new technical platform.
- Improve the user experience.
- Improve the composition and quality of the backlink profiles.
Audits and analyses
To achieve the ambitious goals, we carried out technical SEO and content audits, logfile, pagespeed and competition analyses, as well as structural analyses of the brand and category tree. These audits and analyses served to define the status quo, helped to identify necessary technical optimisation measures, and highlighted where to expand the keyword sets for a more targeted approach.
Based on the collected data, we developed a country-specific strategy together with Douglas, including prioritisation of the necessary measures according to the available budget, the competitive situation, and the technical platform.
From quick wins to comprehensive measures
By identifying and optimising quick wins for on-page and off-page SEO, initial success was quickly achieved. We then focused on more comprehensive measures, and succeeded in improving performance sustainably. Across all countries, we optimised and expanded the category tree, made strategic adjustments to internal linking, implemented indexing logics to improve index hygiene, and conducted active outreach. In addition, an automated website monitoring system was set up to enable Douglas to identify bugs at an early stage. Last but not least, Douglas also mastered the relaunch to a new technical platform together with our SEO experts.
Focus on the users
In addition to the technical measures, a major focus was on optimising and creating user-centred content for category, brand and product detail pages, in order to better exploit the ranking potential.
High-quality, informational marketing content expanded the visibility of the brand and confirmed Douglas’ standing as an expert in beauty and lifestyle. We illustrated some of the content pieces with matching infographics in the consistent look and feel of the brand.
In order to ensure the greatest possible efficiency, Douglas has an overarching project lead team, and an overarching team for technology and strategy, plus SEO experts with primary responsibility for each country. These teams focus on identifying and creating cross-market synergy effects in the areas of project management, content, technology, outreach and strategy.
Douglas also relies on the expertise of DEPT® in other disciplines such as UX/UI and data, so for optimal implementation of the measures, a regular internal exchange happens between the relevant departments and whenever and wherever appropriate, our specialist teams work together to continue to create the best possible experience for Douglas and its customers.
From silos to synergies: that was one of the success factors in pushing SEO at Douglas. DEPT® is a reliable partner in this regard. For optimisations in tech, on-page and off-page SEO, I can always rely on the expertise and high quality of the DEPT® team
Jakobus Müller, Head of SEO, Douglas
SEO Consulting Lead
Design-it-yourself with FREITAG F-Cut
The sustainable Swiss brand FREITAG, known for their bags and accessories made from used truck tarpaulins, has always stood for individualism. With the new digital tool F-Cut, FREITAG now offers its customers the opportunity to design their very own super unique items. The idea behind it was born 20 years ago – and comes from a DEPT® employee.
Desire for more uniqueness
Each of the approximately 300,000 FREITAG bags and accessories produced each year is unique. A large proportion is manufactured in Zurich, where the truck tarpaulins are dismantled and washed by FREITAG employees before the bag designers cut out the best motifs with their cutter knives and templates and these are then processed into bags.
So far, so good. But more and more often, customers inquire in the FREITAG stores whether a specific bag is also available in another color, with this or that motif. The bag makers have taken these requests for (even) more uniqueness to heart – and fell back on the diploma thesis in which DEPT® employee Severin Klaus invented, designed and programmed the first F-Cut for FREITAG 20 years ago.
Democratisation of bag design
The DEPT® team in Switzerland has been working with FREITAG since 2020 and has, among other things, implemented a bag swapping campaign on Tinder for the brand. Now FREITAG approached us to awaken the online cutting table F-Cut from its slumber together with bag and UX designers, logisticians and many other experts.
The following positioning and visions were defined in a preliminary project:
Democratisation of bag design
Every interested customer should have the opportunity to design their own unique bag according to their own taste, beyond all design guidelines.
Bringing FREITAG’s values to life
Sustainability and individualism come first. The FREITAG Sweat-Yourself-Shops are to be transported from the physical to the digital world by means of F-Cut.
Revival of a classic
The new F-Cut is to be as good as the multiple award-winning 20-year-old original, but even more user-friendly and contemporary.
Linking the offline world with the online world
F-Cut offers a unique combination of rough & real materials with digital perfection and a smooth product configuration – no matter on which device, including 3D preview in real time. In this way, the offline world of FREITAG is linked to the online world thanks to a unique experience.
For F-Cut, DEPT® not only implemented the UX, UI and the 3D preview, but also the back- and frontend. The visual identity and the texts were created by FREITAG.
From a technical perspective, F-Cut is a web application that combines various systems. On the one hand, there is of course the F-Cut app – the GUI – in which FREITAG customers configure their bags. Then there is the F-Cut backend with a headless CMS, which primarily provides a database and communicates via API with the checkout (FREITAG online store) and of course the F-Cut app. In addition, there are further admin interfaces with everyday tarpaulin management functions (configuration, orders, etc.) and tarpaulin upload, editor and export (DXF) for production.
Bag dreams come true
For the first release, the focus was on the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid): we limited ourselves to one bag type, the Messenger Bag F712 DRAGNET, which can be designed using four virtual templates from a selection of 20-50 different truck tarps. The designable bag types could be expanded in the future or the bag type could change at fixed intervals.
In order to ensure fairness and equality, new tarpaulins are silently added to the system to exclude disputes about the “good” tarpaulin pieces. Another important aspect for FREITAG was the balance between maximum design freedom and sustainability: leftover tarpaulins are used for accessory products.
Already before the go-live, F-Cut triggered enthusiasm both among the DEPT® and FREITAG teams. Several further development projects are already planned: more products and features are to follow. 20 years after the birth of the idea, F-Cut has finally awoken from its slumber and will continue to grow steadily.
Over 20 years ago, I got to implement F-Cut as a student one-man show – to rethink this project now, with the support of a fantastic team, both on the DEPT® side and on the customer side, while exploiting the possibilities of today’s technology, is a great privilege.
Severin Klaus, Tech Director, DEPT®
Building a modern shopping experience for C&A
C&A is one of the leading fashion companies in Europe, with over 1,300 stores and 25,000 employees across 18 countries. Every day, over 2 million customers flock to its physical stores, or visit its online site looking for high-quality fashion at low prices. C&A turned to DEPT® to review and refresh its technical architecture in line with its extensive rebrand.
Flexibility and scalability – key factors in a digital world
The collaboration between C&A and DEPT® began in mid-2020. Initially, we were tasked with maintaining and further developing the front-end of the previous online store. However, the monolithic e-commerce platform it was built upon was unfortunately restricting the retailer’s digital growth. In today’s digital world where user expectations, trends, technology, and broader market factors change so quickly, a flexible and scalable system is key for companies who want to act instead of react.
From a monolithic platform to a headless microservice architecture
C&A needed a customer experience platform to act as its central digital touchpoint and support omnichannel consumer journeys to ensure a seamless shopping experience. The retailer had already developed an innovative architecture concept, and planned to replace its legacy platform with an edge-based, headless microservice architecture with SPA front end. Together with C&A’s in house teams, DEPT®:
- developed an agile product strategy and roadmap;
- set up a cross-product design system;
- developed new front- and backend components;
- implemented a new, modern technical architecture.
Product strategy and roadmap
To effectively pursue the goals of C&A’s digital strategy, as well as the overarching business and brand strategy, DEPT® worked with C&A’s Product and UX team to develop a medium-term, agile product strategy for the new online store.
We first developed data-based customer value propositions for the target groups of the online store. We mapped out an ambitious Webshop Vision Statement 2024 as a landmark for the product team. Together with C&A, we set strategic milestones and defined associated key results, to ensure the online store’s success is continuously measured and can be made visible to key stakeholders at any time.
To bring the online store strategy to life, we set up an agile workflow that leads directly to a dynamic, strategic product discovery and roadmap. Since expectations and impulses around digital products change at lightning speed, the online store will be strategically reviewed in regular alignments in the future.
Collaboration and process
From the very beginning, DEPT® established a broad collaboration with various stakeholders at C&A – from brand and marketing teams to IT and research units. This was an important basis for the success of the project, as it enabled a common understanding of how brand purpose and brand value propositions could be translated into the digital realm. Possible solutions based on consumer insights were developed with the help of collaborative ideation and co-creation sessions, and the results were tested using interactive prototypes. In order to routinely generate ideas for new functions and services in the future, the collaboration between the C&A user research team and the product managers was integrated and intensified – a new power force that will not only further develop the online store in a user-centric manner but also make it more innovative.
Architecture and technology
The technical solution conceived by C&A was further elaborated and implemented together with DEPT® to create a microservice approach. This scalable and flexible infrastructure enables optimal time-to-market performance, and enables personalised offers, content, and services to be delivered to the users. At the same time, the solution can grow seamlessly with future requirements.
Due to the complexity of the project and the associated complete renewal of the architecture, the development of the new online store was divided into several stages. Stage 1 included the redevelopment of the store frontend for the customer journey up to the shopping cart, as well as the introduction of a new backend. Both components are hosted “on the edge” on a high-performance and scalable serverless infrastructure from Cloudflare. The generation and delivery of content to users is done via a worldwide CDN (Content Delivery Network), with thousands of nodes.
A new, modern headless CMS became the central tool for content maintenance across multiple channels such as the online store and the C&A app. Because the backend and commerce engine remained unchanged in Stage 1, interfaces to the legacy system based on GraphQL were developed in collaboration with software company novomind. This enables the parallel operation of old and new technology, and conducts ongoing A/B tests for 10% of the users. The connection of these APIs and all other third party systems like Reco-Engine, PIM, etc, takes place via a newly developed gateway, which provides the data in a consolidated form to the frontend; a modern and server-side rendered single page application based on React.
Product design, user experience and content
The entire user journey through to checkout was redesigned. A comprehensive set of content modules provides space for engaging, inspiring content that embodies freshness and modernity. Large-scale images and strong portraits combined with close-ups create an emotional connection, while striking typography succinctly brings user-relevant content to the point.
The header is now cleaner and clearer; there is a new navigation concept for the mobile and the desktop versions. New and more balanced product listings provide a better overview and support the user to make an informed buying decision.
Easy-to-understand labels and a focus on sustainability communicate the brand promise and good value for money. A user-friendly filter gives customers the most important options directly at their fingertips. The products on the details page now have a new arrangement, with a clearer buy box and integrated size advice, helping to underline the modern look and feel of the new platform.
The design system as the single source of truth
Built from scratch, the new C&A design system is a living digital ecosystem that grows and changes in symbiosis with the e-com products. It enables teams to develop a consistent experience for users as the new single source of truth for a common digital language. This increases efficiency and strengthens cross-functional collaboration, even for external partners. In a collaborative approach, our product design team worked closely with the client to develop and define the overarching guidelines such as digital branding basics and content principles. Shop-specific foundations, components and UX patterns are provided with guidelines and numerous best practices to offer the best possible orientation and guidance for a consistent experience.
Together with DEPT®, the strong partner at our side, we have built a state-of-the-art webshop. The new platform fulfils the wishes of our customers, reflects the modernity of our brand and forms the basis for our ambitious growth targets.
Ulrike Otto, Head of Digital Experience, C&A
The beauty lies in the design
Europe’s leading premium beauty platform, Douglas, has embarked on a digital-first strategy that puts further expansion of its high-growth e-commerce at the centre. DEPT® has been developing solutions for Douglas for four years as part of its #forwardbeauty.digitalfirst strategy. In addition to focusing on optimising the customer experience and content of its online store, we also deliver unique, creative content for other touchpoints.
+200 live shows
Skincare for an international brand
The rebranding of Douglas began in 2018 with an extensive corporate identity update. The focus was on the redesign of the 50-year-old logo, as well as a new, modern visual language, which was significantly influenced by campaign images by star photographer Peter Lindbergh.
DEPT® came into play for the first time as part of this rebranding. Since the corporate identity update was primarily implemented for the print sector in the first step, Douglas needed a competent partner agency to adapt the new corporate identity from print to digital. Within this digital branding, we mainly translated colours, fonts and Peter Lindbergh’s photography into a digital context. In addition, our UX and UI experts developed a completely new icon set.
First step: a soft facelift
The next step was to make the newly developed CI visible. When it became clear that the relaunch of the Douglas online stores would take some time, but that the rebranding had to be experienced digitally as quickly as possible to ensure a consistent brand presence, DEPT® developed a facelift.
The new fonts, colours, style elements and icons developed in the course of the rebranding and translated by us into a digital guideline, were used throughout the entire online shop. Spacing was recalculated and headers and footers were revised. With these adjustments, the DEPT® UX and UI team succeeded in helping the Douglas online shop achieve a measurable uplift in user experience. The facelift went live in 2018, the year of the Douglas-wide rebranding.
Iterative rebuilding in the background
Parallel to the facelift, DEPT® started with the redevelopment of the new store. While the software development company Netconomy was responsible for the technical implementation of the Douglas relaunch, DEPT® developed the UX and UI design. As part of the relaunch, DEPT® provided an uplift in the area of joy of use, for example, with the help of animated micro interactions.
The first go-lives were celebrated in 2019 with the relaunch of the Douglas online stores in Switzerland, Austria and Poland. Based on these comparatively small markets, the upcoming German launch could be optimised thanks to the learnings generated. To this day, we are involved in the continuous feature development of the Douglas online shops.
Sustainable brand design: design with a system
In contrast to a pattern library or a style guide, a design system not only contains reusable interface components, but is a comprehensive description of the cross-channel design language of a brand. With the help of a design system, a wide variety of digital products, websites and apps can be uniformly designed.
DEPT® has developed a component-based design concept for Douglas, which forms the basis for our shop relaunch in the first step. In addition, it is the basis for a new digital design system, which is now constantly being developed holistically and across touchpoints.
Alexander Storck, Head of UX, Douglas
At the end of 2019, Douglas decided to implement our digital design system as a future “single source of truth”. Within the design system, all design elements are created, described in detail, and made accessible to employees, so that they can be used across countries for the design of various components of the Douglas online shop. The in-house design system thus leads to a sustainable design process that is constantly documented using the zeroheight and Figma tools.
Douglas goes live shopping
The demand for comprehensive online advice is visibly increasing, with the store closures caused by the Corona pandemic having greatly accelerated this trend. In March 2020, Douglas successfully launched the live shopping channel Douglas LIVE. After the summer break, the beauty retailer took the format to the next level with Douglas LIVE – THE LIVE CHANNEL FOR BEAUTY using the new technology Livebuy and a completely new look.
For the launch and the daily shows, we created the new digital branding including logo and style elements. Content assets as well as videos for Douglas LIVE are provided by DEPT®. To date, DEPT® has created content assets for almost 350 shows and accompanies Douglas on its way to becoming an on-stop inspiration platform for beauty & healthcare.
DEPT® and Douglas: Highlights
- Development of a scalable, reliable e-commerce platform – multilingual, multi-currency, multi-market
- Fully integrated loyalty programme with more than 44 million loyalty card holders
- Implementation of a design system that can be used across countries
Together with DEPT®, we are continuously optimising the digital beauty shopping experience in a customer-centric way to further expand our position as the No. 1 online beauty business in Europe.
Vanessa Stützle, EVP Ecommerce & CRM, Douglas
Director Marketing & Business Development
A unique Web3 experience for H&Mbeyond.
H&Mbeyond. is the innovation hub of the well-known Swedish fashion company H&M Group. Together with startups and innovators, its team drives forward future-oriented projects. After speaking at DEPT®’s 2021 Meta Festival, Head of H&Mbeyond., Oliver Lange, approached us to create the first-of-its-kind, Metaverse project for the H&M brand: the Virtual Showroom.
A central point for meaningful exchanges
In keeping with the current zeitgeist, H&Mbeyond. approached us with the idea of expanding H&M’s physical showrooms with a digital showroom. Based on the former, it should reflect the brand’s identity and values, just virtually instead of physically. A space without opening hours, where a wide variety of target audiences such as influencers and stylists, customers, employees, and the press can meet and learn more about H&M and its collections. The Virtual Showroom was to serve as a central point for meaningful exchanges in an immersive environment. Targeted tours by the H&M showroom team were intended to inform the audience about current trends and topics such as sustainability and new, innovative materials.
The number of visitors, countries of origin and the average time spent in the individual areas (which can be helpful for future brand activations), were defined as KPIs for this new showroom. KPIs including click rates of downloadable materials and qualitative feedback from showroom guests and media stakeholders are to follow soon.
Bringing collections to life
How can we experience clothing when we can’t touch it or wear it? What added value does a digital experience offer visitors and customers? Together with our partner Journee – The Metaverse Company™, we explored solutions to these questions to develop a virtual, custom-fit world for H&M. In the H&M Virtual Showroom, content on H&M’s innovation topics and sustainability efforts are presented, alongside ‘information zones’, designed especially for the press or users interested in a conversation.
The look of the showroom is based on the DNA of the H&M brand, with appropriately designed areas for the most important topics such as the ‘Sustainability Garden’ (where information on the innovative material ‘AirCarbon’ is shared), or the H&M Home influencers meeting area.
The ‘Campaign Room’, accessible through a portal, is where the new H&M Innovation Stories campaign ‘Cherish Waste’ is interpreted in a fascinating new way. Here, Creative Director Ann-Sofie Johansson and Concept Designer Ella Soccorsi give insights into the design process of the collection and the campaign, as well as the materials used in the clothing. The highlight of this room are the six main pieces of the collection which dominate the room as detailed, oversized 3D graphics. The flowing movement and vivid colours of the graphics really bring the pieces to life. Special Collections, in particular, lend themselves to the creation of such individual spaces, with a wide variety of brand activation options and providing unique, added-value for the visitors and the H&M showroom team.
From vision to (virtual) realisation
We developed all of the components mentioned above together with Journee and in close cooperation with H&M. The vision of the showroom grew piece by piece; our strategists developed the concept, and the designers brainstormed, scribbled and designed creative mood boards based on the creative direction of the campaign and the H&M brand DNA.
With the help of H&M’s user insights, we designed the user flows for the influencers, stylists and journalists at an early stage, which provided the necessary guidance during the creative process. With the design ideas sharpened, we continued to optimise the concept and content until everything could be implemented (virtually) by Journee, using Unreal.
The first test tours in the Virtual Showroom, plus the positive feedback and ideas received from H&M stakeholders, helped us to round off the H&M Web3 experience. Paths were rerouted, trees moved, images swapped, and descriptions added.
An immersive user experience
The three avatar designs represent an important message: the need for more diversity and inclusion in fashion. With the avatars, users can move freely in the Virtual Showroom, so we paid special attention to user guidance, orientation and the order in the rooms. Even inexperienced users can navigate through the showroom with the help of various aids and explanations, helping them to discover everything in a playful way. Thanks to the separate rooms and different areas in the H&M Virtual Showroom, users can explore and experience the brand and the respective collections, or they can quickly find what they are looking for by simply teleporting to their desired destination.
A survey carried out with Gen Z visitors to the Virtual Showroom has resulted in very positive feedback:
- 69% of the respondents said that the showroom had aroused their interest in a virtual H&M brand experience.
- In addition, 80% of the respondents are already interested in participating in a virtual H&M brand experience as an H&M Hello member.
- Finally, 85% of the visitors surveyed rated the virtual showroom experience as very positive.
Remarkable press reviews
“Previous digital press meetings were nothing compared to this experience. Amazing space and visual execution, i.e. 3D moving garments in campaign room.” GLAMOUR
“Congrats to the space. In love especially with the visuals.” VOGUE
“Super cool to experience such an entirely new and imaginary environment. Love the photo booth to share.” FASHION UNITED
Within only 12 weeks, we created a first-of-its-kind metaverse experience with the team from DEPT® and JOURNEE, which not only triggered positive feedback from the target group and a remarkable press echo. The project is also the impetus for further innovation projects within the H&M Group. I am looking forward to further collaboration with the team and am excited to see how we will shape Web3 together in the future.
Oliver Lange, Head of H&Mbeyond.
By working in true collaboration throughout an iterative process, the requirements of H&Mbeyond.’s innovation approach were optimally understood and implemented. In the future, the Virtual Showroom is expected to host events such as launches, meetings, and concerts for larger audiences, all in addition to the presentation of new collections.
“H&M’s Virtual Showroom is designed as a space for brand activations such as fashion campaigns. These are brought to life in a whole new and exciting way, combining innovation, digitalisation and sustainability. It makes me very proud to see how much energy, heart and soul our colleagues across countries and departments have put into this project. We are looking forward to exploring the potential in the countries of the Central Europe region and beyond.” Thorsten Mindermann, Regional Manager, H&M Central Europe.
A virtual concert goes through the roof
After the great success of the virtual showroom and the positive feedback from the target groups, H&Mbeyond. also wanted to offer an immersive experience to the end consumers. After extensive pitch and evaluation phases with a focus on Gen Z, the idea for the first virtual concert in the Metaverse was born. To build on the success of the Virtual Showroom with Love as quickly as possible, local and global marketing teams at H&M developed a concept in record time. In developing the immersive experience, the aspects of engagement and community were at the very top of the agenda. H&M finally managed to get the five-member ‘P-Pop’ boy band BGYO to perform the concert and realise it together with Journee and the existing technology. A new area was created in the existing showroom.
The result exceeded H&Mbeyond.’s expectations. For example, the concert dominated social media channels and was covered by the TV station CNN Philippines. Communication about the virtual event eventually went viral. After the concert, some participants were surveyed. According to this survey, the interest in such immersive experiences is very high. In addition, the great demand for products in the form of physical and digital merchandise of the band motivated H&Mbeyond. to think further in this direction.
The road to metaverse commerce
At our DEPT® Commerce Day 2022, Oliver Lange from H&Mbeyond. and Jan Gutkuhn, Director Web3 at DEPT®, talked about the creation of the Virtual Showroom with Love.
Take a look behind the scenes and get exciting insights on the topic of The Road to metaverse commerce in the following video.
Director Marketing & Business Development
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