Lots of retail brands talk about taking a “mobile-first” approach to commerce, and it’s easy to see why; according to the latest Salesforce Shopping Index, mobile accounts for 60% of traffic and 41% of orders. Still, very few brands actually are mobile-first, because they’ve not taken the bold, foundational steps necessary to truly serve mobile consumers.

PUMA, and its Global Head of eCommerce Ken Kralick, are outliers.

In summer 2017 PUMA, one of the world’s leading sports brands, re-architected and relaunched its sites (in 24 countries and counting) using the Salesforce Commerce Cloud Storefront Reference Architecture, a framework for site design.

“Shoppers may buy from PUMA.com, or they may be in one of our wholesalers or retailers, or just walking down the street and see one of our products,” says Kralick. “They may use their phone to learn about the brand, so we need to focus on the mobile customer experience so they can do that very quickly. You have to balance that with the ability to show a big product catalog and represent the brand.”

“That’s what being a mobile-first brand is for us,” says Kralick, below.

At PUMA, mobile traffic in some geographies was approaching 70%. But, as is the issue with most brands, conversion ran woefully behind. What it wanted was to remove any roadblocks to purchasing, and to focus on the things that truly matter to mobile shoppers, not the things that consultants or technology providers say matters to shoppers.

“I don’t need to be the first with the flashiest new tool. What I need is to give mobile shoppers exactly what they want, when they want it, and be smart about fulfilling the needs of real consumers.”

With a focus on site speed, ease of navigation and product findability, lots of content, and the fewest clicks to purchase, PUMA re-architected its sites so that shoppers wouldn’t feel compelled to abandon their phones for the web to make a purchase. The new sites also make it simple for shoppers to create an account, and save a cart if they do choose go back to it later on a tablet or desktop.


An architecture built with mobile in mind

Engineered through a data-driven design analysis of device traffic patterns and shopping behavior on over 2,000 storefronts the Storefront Reference Architecture provides merchants with best practices in mobile UX design, merchandising, and technical architecture to improve conversion and enhance the mobile shopping experience.

Over 200 wireframes provide a model for intelligent storefront design,  while direct ownership of storefront code empowers merchants to build sites as unique and as differentiated as they are.

“I am not risk-averse at all, and will place large bets into areas that are proven,” says Kralick. “We were so far behind [in mobile] so instead of iterative changes to our existing framework, which would be more expensive and only offer incremental improvements, we decided to directly adopt the new Storefront so we could immediately leverage the stability of the latest Bootstrap mobile framework. We rolled it out as a true reference architecture with multiple countries, multiple currencies, multiple languages and continuous integration, so we can have a solid, future proof, mobile-first platform to build off globally.”

The results at PUMA: Since re-launching its sites in July 2017, its mobile sites now render and fully load 35% and 69% faster, respectively, resulting in sub-two second image-load times on the product detail page. Conversion has improved from sub 1% to 1-1.5%.

“The site is faster. The user experience is better, and the conversion rate is better. Full stop,” says Kralick.

Equally as impressive, though, is the agility PUMA now has to make experience-enhancing tweaks to its site, constantly iterating based on real consumer behavior. For example, rather than force shoppers to look at its branding in the user flow, PUMA refined the top navigation and internal search, based on Salesforce’s advice and best practices.

“Without changing any product, without doing any price-point changes, that tweak increased conversion. We’re scalable. We’re releasing improvements more often. We’re testing and able to prove and disprove hypotheses quickly in a way that we couldn’t on other platforms. The fact that it’s faster and helps us sell more, and we can get to market faster, and that Salesforce has truly as an organization partnered with us, I can’t tell you how important that is.”

Another benefit: PUMA no longer worries about the site holding up under shopper demand when a hot new product – say, the latest collaboration with Rihanna – hits the market. “We’d get to 18,000 concurrent users in the first couple seconds and it would just devastate all our sites for a couple minutes but now, with the new Storefront Reference Architecture, we don’t even notice the spike. It’s a non-event from a server-load standpoint.”

PUMA has also seen big efficiencies in consolidating its previously disparate sites, which were on separate code bases and maintained separately, into one global platform; it’s something that Kralick says they’d been trying to do for years.

In re-architecting its sites around mobile, PUMA is living by its tagline (and credo), “Forever Faster.”

“We took a giant leap forward.”

Forever Faster, indeed.

For retailers, being mobile-first is a journey that involves technology, organizational alignment, and much more. Check out our interactive step-by-step journey for insight into how you can put mobile at the center of your growth strategy.