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This week at the Salesforce XChange conference in Las Vegas, three trailblazing retail brands were recognized as Pacesetter winners: Aritzia, Birkenstock and vineyard vines. These brands exemplify innovation, growth and connecting with their customers in engaging and personal ways.

Top executives of each brand provided us a blog post in their own words. Here are their stories.

Jennifer Wong, President and Chief Operating Officer, Aritzia

Winner: Sustained Growth

At Aritzia, we are thrilled to be recognized by Commerce Cloud as a Pacesetter winner in the Sustained Growth category!

When Brian Hill, our founder and CEO, opened Aritzia’s first standalone boutique in Vancouver B.C. in 1984, his idea was simple: unite beautiful, high quality products, attainable price points and an aspirational shopping experience. We’ve kept on growing ever since. We now have 81 stores across Canada and the U.S. and a global reach online. We are incredibly pleased with our revenue performance since our inception.

Even now, in a time where many multi-channel retailers are struggling, our business has continued to grow. In fiscal 2017, we achieved net revenue growth of 23% with comparable sales growth of 14%.

And of course, we’ve also seen meaningful growth in our e-commerce business since we launched on Commerce Cloud (then known as Demandware) in 2012. By 2015, our e-commerce business grew to represent 12% of sales, and is on track to represent 25% of our total net revenue by 2021.

Our business model is one of the keys to our success. We conceive and develop our own exclusive brands, and sell them under the Aritzia banner. By approaching each of our brands as an independent label with its own aesthetic, we’re able to address a broad range of style preferences and lifestyle requirements. These exclusive brands currently represent over 90% of our business.

We’re also obsessed with providing exceptional shopping experiences. Our stores are all individually designed, with original art and custom furniture — and we even have our own in-house music director to curate our playlists. Online, we integrate high quality content into our core shopping experience and are always focused on improving the customer experience from start to finish.

So what’s next?

We are in the early stages of leveraging advanced business intelligence to further enhance our understanding and engagement with shoppers both online and in-store. We believe there are untapped synergies between our store network and aritzia.com, with the success of each channel benefitting the other through increased brand awareness and affinity. Within our ecommerce business, we are broadening our assortment of both our exclusive brands and third-party products to complement our existing offerings and drive new sales. And after having introduced shipping to international markets in October 2016, we have the opportunity to leverage those learnings to identify international markets for our stores in the future.

We are proud of what we have accomplished at Aritzia and look forward to working with Salesforce to continue the growth we have sustained all these years.

Sascha Rowold, CEO, BIRKENSTOCK digital GmbH

Winner: Fast Track

We are thrilled to be recognized by Salesforce today as a Fast Track Pacesetter! It’s all the more impressive when you consider that, two years ago, BIRKENSTOCK had virtually no ecommerce activity.  

Today we have set up online stores in 20 countries, in eight different languages, which we were able to achieve in a total of nine months, from setting up a team to selecting and implementing fulfillment partners. And thanks to the agility of Commerce Cloud, we are rapidly expanding our business internationally both on the web and on mobile.

Speed and time to market was of the essence for family-owned BIRKENSTOCK, whose digital presence was born in 2015 with the formation of Birkenstock digital GmbH, an entity formed to develop and manage the digitization and global ecommerce activities of the brand.

BIRKENSTOCK traces its roots to 1774 and is steeped in tradition, but we decided that digital would be a key component for our growth, international expansion, and creation of 1:1 customer journeys. As a latecomer to digital commerce, we knew we needed to get to market quickly, with a solution that was easy to implement, manage and update.

We launched our first site, in Austria, on Commerce Cloud within three months, and within six months launched internationally in over 10 countries. As a privately-held company, we can’t share specific sales numbers but online sales, both mobile and web, have grown by double digits, while traffic has grown in the triple digits.

We are moving very quickly to launch new sites in high-growth markets, particularly in Japan, China and other Asian countries. The multi-tenant architecture of Commerce Cloud, where a single instance of software serves multiple groups of users, is a big part of what makes this possible.

BIRKENSTOCK also leverages Salesforce Marketing Cloud for personalization of email marketing and campaigns based on customer data and customer journeys. Results show improvements in open rates as well as conversion rates. As a next step, the program will be expanded to customer acquisition, and in the final step, we will implement a loyalty program aimed at improving customer lifetime value. In doing so, digital will become the driving force of a “one face to the customer strategy.”

Our historic brand is one that cares deeply about quality and authenticity. A hallmark feature of our current products - flexible footbed insoles with contoured arch support - was mastered by Konrad Birkenstock way back in 1896!

But we know that digital is a crucial part to global growth, and because they are fully vested in our success, Commerce Cloud is the partner to help us achieve our ambitions and maintain a strong brand for the next 250 years.

We thank Salesforce for this recognition, and look forward to a long and prosperous partnership.  

Shep Murray and Ian Murray, Co-founders of vineyard vines

Winner: Innovation

Next year, vineyard vines will celebrate a milestone - our 20th anniversary. From humble beginnings quitting our jobs and selling neckties out of a worn backpack, we have grown to more than 90 stores and a thriving online business selling lifestyle apparel and accessories to men, women and children. Along the way, a few things have remained constant: our iconic pink whale, our motto Every day should feel this good, and our focus on finding innovative ways to connect our customers to our brand.

Salesforce’s recognition today of vineyard vines as Pacesetter winner for Innovation is a proud testament to that focus.

Our focus has always been on real people living the good life...we stand for authenticity. Nowhere is that more evident than in our stores, where we leverage Commerce Cloud Store and mobile POS to offer superior service levels.

We use a range of Salesforce products - all in an effort to connect and engage with each customer on a 1:1 level through the entire shopper journey. Our store environments are not about selling; we create spaces where people love to buy from us.

We know brands must embrace technology as a new way to connect with customers. We're not a fast fashion brand, but we're also not a heritage brand that refuses to change. We will continue to evolve. We also know that personalized, relevant engagement leads to increased engagement and conversion. Our customers are much more likely to respond to an email that is personalized just for them, based on purchase history vs. the same email promotion that’s received by 100,000 others.

As many retailers are acknowledging, brick-and-mortar stores are in need of an innovation overhaul. And we’re getting in front of it by implementing Salesforce technologies that transform each store into a warehouse, and each store associate into a store owner with the capability to get a real time view of inventory (of that store and all stores) from a mobile device.

These types of innovations, which happen behind the scenes, have a positive impact on shoppers, mainly because they don’t walk out of the store empty-handed and disappointed that they couldn’t find the product they wanted. And ultimately, that product is a vehicle to take you someplace that feels good in your mind.

This single view of the customer, made possible by a unified commerce platform, is not only what today’s customers demand, it’s what will separate retail leaders from the rest of the pack.

We believe that Salesforce’s Intelligent Customer Success Platform helps us find new and innovative ways to do what we’ve done since 1998 - connect our customers to our brand and our "Every day should feel this good" way of life.  

To dive into each customer's full Commerce Cloud story, read more on the Commerce Cloud blog.