Salesforce customer since 2019

Laurastar makes a bold move to direct-to-consumer (D2C) with Salesforce

Laurastar is a family business with massive ambition.

It was co-founded in 1980 by Jean Monney and has grown into the market leader in luxury garment care. This year, the business celebrates its 40th anniversary and is still run by Jean’s daughter and son, co-CEOs Julie and Michael, who describe their products as “the Rolls Royce of ironing.”

In their native Switzerland, 25% of households own a Laurastar. They have a strong presence in Europe and are growing in Asia, especially China, South Korea and Taiwan, with a Japan launch imminent.

But what happens when a business this big has to reimagine just about everything about the way it works?

Pivoting in a pandemic

Laurastar has always had a strong digital heritage, having operated an online store since 2011, but they’ve rapidly accelerated digitalisation since adopting Salesforce in 2019.

“We’ve just deployed Sales Cloud and it’s completely changed the way we do things. It’s not about just automating our sales, it's shifting the entire sales mindset and showing how we can step up as a company and go to the next level.”

As a result, Laurastar products bought online have jumped from 20% of revenue to 55% in the last few months, thanks to Commerce Cloud. 

When the pandemic hit, the pivot to digital, and specifically to direct-to-consumer (D2C) was even more critical — but they managed to safely and comfortably get everyone working from home, even before lockdown in Switzerland was officially introduced.

“It was a challenging moment as 80% of our business was still done in brick and mortar stores, export and retail. The closing of retail warehouses also forced some retailers to turn away some products . But it’s also pushed us forward a million years.”

Before COVID-19, Laurastar’s sales model was still heavily anchored in traditional bricks-and-mortar retail, with physical product demonstrations a key touchpoint in the sales journey, even for customers who might eventually buy online.

They’ve been using Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud to push offers directly to customers, for online chat via WhatsApp, to automate more processes, and to generally improve the speed and efficiency of their sales operation.

“Pre-Covid we were already automating our processes, but now, with Salesforce, we’re tripling the speed of that process. We are trying to be very focused in bringing everything online — we want to be 100% CRM-driven — but physical stores are a big part of our history, and they will still be a part of our future,” says Julie.

Getting closer to the customer

Customers are using a huge variety of different touchpoints — online purchases and registration, calling customer service, email, live chat on the website, messenger apps — so for a high-end brand it’s crucial to have a complete overview.

That’s where Service Cloud has been crucial. It’s given Laurastar’s marketing, sales, commerce, service and IT departments a single view of the customer, allowing them to curate personal experiences across multiple touchpoints, and build stronger customer relationships.

“The key focus is for customer service teams to have easy access to all the information about the customer. So the customer really feels they’re communicating to only one brand, with a consistent voice and experience across channels. You cannot be a high-end brand selling products of that standard without the service to match,” says Julie.

But this is about more than just delivering a more joined-up online experience – it extends to the skills of customer service agents too.

“Customer service is changing. It's about customer interaction, and that needs new skills and new knowledge. Before, it was fine if you could just talk really well on the phone. Now, it demands that you can talk well, write well, have good IT skills, and can adapt quickly to change,” Michael explains.

This is a remarkably enlightened view and particularly compelling given the company’s transitioning to these new ways of working. Every contact centre leader in the world wishes their CEO would say things like this:

“Our customer service is not a cost centre, it's a profit centre – because of all the care we've put into it to make sure that it's an integral part of the overall brand experience.”

A new focus on data

Data has been a key element in Laurastar’s accelerated digitalisation – namely the question of how you convert years of siloed data into one cohesive and accessible system that allows for easy reporting and dashboards.

“That was really the key challenge: in order for people across the company to have the big picture about what we know, what we don’t know, what is missing, what is maybe wrong, what is going when, and so on,” explains Alain Lamonato, Global Digital Director at Laurastar.

Getting to this point has been a challenge, migrating from Excel files, multiple applications and siloed databases into one centralised CRM platform.

“The data was all over the place. In the past year, we worked a lot on business intelligence to try to get an overview of the different data sources, but it’s complex when you have so many. So what we have done first is to compile all the data, and inject everything into Salesforce, with Service Cloud as a main database,” says Alain.

This streamlining has empowered Laurastar to build a dashboard showing the weekly evolution of their customer relationships, with all the information they need in one place. It’s a massive leap forward and the co-CEOs are visibly excited to be able to drill into all their data whenever they need to.

“Every week we get an automated email with all the key information: how many new clients, what's their profile, which country, all the essential data, and it pushes us to keep on going 100% CRM. We now get data reports automatically from Salesforce where before it would take a month of endless data analysis — way too long — and even then the answer wouldn’t be complete,” says Michael.

One of the greatest benefits is the ability to focus on and identify the most important KPIs, instead of collecting and analysing an endless stream of data.

“We focus on maybe four or five key KPIs. We’re no longer wasting time with irrelevant details. You can immediately see sales, turnover, what is being bought and when, in any market, or store, or region, or time period. We can quickly see what is working and what isn’t, which is a huge return on the investment for us. Now we have a common dataset: it’s not perfect yet, but still that is a huge game-changer.”

Data security is also a key component for Laurastar. The company is focused on protecting customer’s data, respecting their privacy and abide methodically to the European GDPR regulations.

A new product, a new model, a new normal

Despite the disruption of COVID-19, Laurastar is poised to launch their new product, IGGI, a new generation steam purifier that eliminates 99.9% of the viruses, germs and bacteria present on textiles and household objects thanks to its sanitising steam. With a lower price point than their existing flagship products, IGGI is launching in 2020 and will appeal to a wider (and younger) global audience.

It’s a bold continuation of a strategy that started well before the pandemic. And yet another demonstration of how intelligently this business is being run.

They changed their distribution, the focus of their products and their business model. Then they got hit by a pandemic and stayed the course in spite of all sorts of challenges. Instead of just weathering the storm, they have more visibility over their entire operation, stronger relationships with their customers and more control over their own destiny.

“People talk about a new normal in this post-covid world, but it will never be the same as before. Though this crisis, we have learned to be much more agile, move faster and stay even closer to our customers than before,” says Julie.

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