lift in GMV across all marketplace categories driven by a 70% increase in products listed.
increase in new vendors onboarded in three months.
SurfStitch is passionate about curating the best assortment of Coastal Lifestyle products and our aim is to make the shopping experience as easy as possible so our loyal customers can spend more time outdoors doing the things they love. We already had a strong surf & fashion ecommerce business but we wanted to offer more to our customers. We see our purpose as “Inspiring you to live like it’s the weekend” and the SurfStitch team lives and breathes our purpose every day. With that in mind, we wanted to present a wide variety of Coastal Lifestyle categories from the world’s best brands so we partnered with Marketplacer to bring that vision to life.
Five decades of entertaining round the flame
SurfStitch is an innovative e-commerce business and leading digital platform for the best curated collection of coastal lifestyle products across Australia and New Zealand. The site averages nearly 2 million visits a month and they ship orders from a 10,000 sqm warehouse facility and third-party vendor. The huge product range is offered on a world class platform and is backed up with best in class customer service and super fast delivery.
SurfStitch already had a thriving ecommerce business and strong brand awareness but was looking for ways to ramp up and build out product offerings and categories; further develop customer experience and loyalty; and drive growth and revenue. They first tried an internally-managed marketplace with third-party sellers but quickly realized they needed a different approach. Tryzens, was tapped by SurfStitch to maintain, run, support and optimize SurfStitch’s active ecommerce website on commerce cloud and build a new app and reached out to Marketplacer to collaborate on a comprehensive solution to SurfStitch’s needs, that included:
- One platform to store, manage and coordinate inventory without a front-end delivery layer.
- The ability to radically scale fulfillment to achieve the growth and scale they were after, without hiring staff; instead needing ways to automate and simplify
- The ability to easily and quickly enter new categories and offer new products without taking on inventory or overhead risk
- A seller portal for third-party sellers to communicate with the company, manage their listings, process and ship their orders and returns.
Each marketplace strategy is unique to that business. For SurfStitch, range extension was the ultimate goal while keeping the customer experience frictionless. Specific marketplace goals included:
- Create a seamless cross-category customer experience without disrupting the existing shopping journey customers were familiar with.
- To extend the assortment on offer in current categories and quickly and easily enter new categories to test the market without taking on new inventory.
- To create a standardised vendor integration process to rapidly onboard new vendors, while creating a less manually-dependent workflow
- To better leverage vendor inventory pools through enabling marketplace capabilities
Implementing an online marketplace
The Marketplacer platform offers a range of native capabilities that removes the complex task of overseeing multiple third party integrations and allows Surfstitch to easily manage their product database while focusing on the overall customer experience.
API-led and Headless Integration: SurfStitch came to Marketplacer looking for a solution that would integrate with their existing VRP platform, which they use to manage their product database, while also easily communicating with Salesforce Commerce Cloud in a seamless process.
Marketplacer worked with digital agency, Tryzens, to build the connector between SurfStitch and Salesforce for a headless integration to dramatically improve speed. Choosing a specialized API-led marketplace strategy enabled SurfStitch to rapidly onboard third-party products and dramatically increase product offerings. It would also better serve their existing drop ship network of suppliers and help onboard new drop ship suppliers to scale overall fulfillment.
Customer Experience: Maintaining a positive and seamless customer experience is the top priority when designing a marketplace strategy. For SurfStitch, after mapping the customer journey using Marketplacer’s framework, they decided to integrate all third-party marketplace merchandise among the wider catalogue for easy discoverability and a seamless experience by shoppers.
To address customer service questions about delivery tracking due to customers receiving multiple parcels at different times and with different carriers, SurfStitch created a comprehensive communications approach with messaging at the cart, in shipment notifications, and clear communication in packages and onsite to advise customers their parcel may be coming from the seller directly and to double check order confirmation emails.
Product Curation: Category and product curation is the secret sauce to a successful marketplace – and the key to growth. For SurfStitch, they were already drop-shipping products from a full warehouse which made expansion, let alone rapid scale, near impossible. As a result, SurfStitch’s product offerings and categories were limited. As much as it made sense to sell surfboards it wasn’t feasible due to physical limitations, shipping requirements, and a host of other items.
Using the Marketplacer platform, SurfStitch was able to extend existing categories and product lines that complemented their core product offerings of apparel and accessories for a coastal lifestyle – including surfboards. SurfStitch created entirely new categories such as beauty and outdoor and devised a stringent “relevance test” for every product added to the site to ensure all products they sell are inline with their customers’ high standards. Each category has assigned growth targets that are tracked regularly.
Seller Recruitment and Management: Building out categories and existing product offerings required a strategy to manage very specific targets around the quantity and quality of vendors that are recruited. For SurfStitch, that answer came in the form of strategic staff hires. First, by adding two business development hires focused on recruiting new vendor partners to expand offerings in existing coastal lifestyle categories and recruiting vendors to build out new categories like “workwear”, “activewear” and “ride” and fielding inbound enquiries from vendors wanting to join the SurfStitch platform.
Second was adding dedicated resources within the existing merchandise team to directly manage all marketplace vendor relationships and really focus on acquiring new desirable sellers. SurfStitch also recognized a need to add capacity to their tech team to assist with integrations and testing to keep up with the onboarding levels of vendors, especially those in need of technical support.
The SurfStitch marketplace launched in November 2020 and the impact was quickly felt. Development and go-to-market time was minimal with the marketplace displaying products on the SurfStitch’s front end only 40 days from kickoff. Using Marketplacer’s technology, SurfStich was able to quickly expand into new categories and significantly extend the assortment in existing categories. Results include:
- The connected integration allowed SurfStitch to rapidly expand into new product categories, adding over 500 brands, with a 300% increase in new vendors in mere months
- Critically, SurfStitch’s overall product offerings jumped 30-40% in the first 3 months – all without investing in inventory
- Marketplacer offers the ability for Surfstitch to centrally administer the Marketplace listings, onboard new sellers and centralise customer service aspects of the marketplacer operations
- In February 2021, SurfStitch unveiled SurfStitch Body with 800 different SKUs at launch with products for men and women, with a focus on organic and environmentally-friendly lines
- SurfStitch also aims to extend their product catalog into Homewares, Outdoor, Activewear, Wellness and Workwear
- Within 12 months SurfStitch has added over 10,000 new products without needing to increase their investment in inventory or upgrade their supply chain
“SurfStitch is passionate about curating the best assortment of Coastal Lifestyle products and our aim is to make the shopping experience as easy as possible so our loyal customers can spend more time outdoors doing the things they love. We already had a strong surf & fashion ecommerce business but we wanted to offer more to our customers. We see our purpose as “Inspiring you to live like it’s the weekend” and the SurfStitch team lives and breathes our purpose every day. With that in mind, we wanted to present a wide variety of Coastal Lifestyle categories from the world’s best brands so we partnered with Marketplacer to bring that vision to life.”