The business landscape has changed so much over the last three decades. Brick-and-mortar stores and a steady flow of foot traffic were once the only opportunities for business growth, and it was during this time that Lorna Jane Clarkson took her first steps to launch an activewear empire.
But as the times have evolved, so too has the Lorna Jane brand. And what was once a burgeoning local business is now an iconic household name synonymous with empowering women to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
With thousands of women now donning the Brisbane-based brand's activewear, Lorna Jane was ready to elevate its e-commerce strategy to reach more global customers.
But to digitally transform and take on the world, it needed a strong platform partner in its corner.
Since joining forces with Salesforce, Lorna Jane has seen its two highest sales days in its 30-year history, plus a 30% spike in revenue through AI-powered commerce experiences.
Here's how they did it.
Establishing a global presence is no walk in the park. It requires tenacity, hard work and the right technological solutions.
But here's the kicker. Lorna Jane did it in just six months. That's right. In the amount of time it takes the average person to summon the courage to finally book in for a dentist appointment, Lorna Jane had an e-commerce strategy set up in six different countries.
“We're re-imagining our unified commerce experience, where every customer is known to us across all our channels and can engage with us.”
For Clarke, one of the best parts of utilising Commerce Cloud was the in-depth customer data it offered, which gave them the ability to personalise the shopping experience for customers — whether they were walking into its flagship store in Queensland or logging on to peruse the website in America.
"We lean very heavily on customer groups in Salesforce to serve different experiences based on anything from IP location to shipping addresses to what we know about our customers through our unified customer data.
"That allows us to know how to serve a unique customer experience on page and throughout the rest of the journey."
Its former e-commerce platform was clunky, and upkeep was challenging.
"We're a pretty lean organisation, especially in the digital space, because we're a traditional retailer," says Clarke.
"The team couldn't handle the technical debt that came with our previous platform. We literally had employees getting up in the middle of the night to roll out new homepages or to turn on campaigns," he says.
The ability of Commerce Cloud to support multiple languages, currencies and processes gave Clarke’s team the power to holistically manage the roll out into new markets.
By reducing the technical complexity of entering new international markets, Clarke says they were able to maintain the high quality commerce experience that local Lorna Jane customers were used to, from anywhere in the world.
"It just made everything so much easier," says Clarke. "Internationalisation is a key criterion for so many businesses, and Commerce Cloud does that better than anybody, especially when it comes to settling in the local currencies."
As part of World Tour Sydney 2022, Clarke shared a three-step process that helped kickstart the Lorna Jane e-commerce growth strategy.
“73% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations.”
You've got to get to know your customers, says Clarke, and recognise that customers from different countries will have different wants and needs.
"Australian customers are not the same as those in New Zealand. We have some demonstrable differences in our customer segments there. Despite being so similar on the surface, they shop very differently to Australians."
This isn't just based on the products they want to see, but also the times of year they want to see certain items, he says. So having access to a platform that delivers that data has allowed Lorna Jane to craft unique shopping experiences for customers in its six global segments quickly and effectively.
Most businesses at the early stages of their e-commerce journey probably don't have a team of developers ready to be the driving force behind a digital strategy, says Clarke.
It's often a portion of trailblazers in the business who recognise the need for bigger and better approaches but aren't quite sure where to get started.
That's why finding the right partnership is crucial. Because as Lorna Jane experienced with its previous platform, investing in technology for the sake of it is unlikely to reap any benefits.
"You want an organisation that's a thought-leader in this space, not just a product," says Clarke.
"You need a partner to lead you through that journey and who knows which direction to point you in. Cultural alignment is something that can be, at times, underrated in this space, but they also need to be aligned with your ways of working."
It's also crucial to find the right vendor or agency to roll out your platform.
“You can own every level of the tech stack if you have the appetite for that, but for those just getting into that space, you want a partner that can deliver that for you as a package and the Commerce Cloud environment does that.
You don't have to go elsewhere for the search and merch or AI recommendations — it's all in the one platform.”
During the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, Lorna Jane's CEO Bill Clarkson saw an opportunity to increase the brand's retail footprint and invested in physical store spaces at a time where other companies were tightening the purse strings.
This ambition and willingness to take a chance ended up paying off and has held the brand in good stead ever since. Its recent global expansion is testament to that.
"Take some risks," says Clarke. "Yes, you've got to have an appetite for that risk and manage that carefully, but find what's new and what hasn't been tried yet. Look at what someone else has tried and then put your own spin on it."
Clarke is also a proponent of documenting everything — not just your key data points, but the whole journey, including the relationships you form.
“Sometimes you need to hold yourself or someone else accountable and that way there's no ambiguity. You've got everything written down.”
Clarke also believes it helps to reflect on how you and your team approach the journey and play the long-game.
“Big projects can be taxing, but if you can find a way to enjoy it, that makes all the difference."
Watch the Lorna Jane session ‘3 Steps to Grow Fast and Go Global with Commerce Cloud’ on Salesforce+.