How 55-Year-Old Crislu Doubled Sales & Reinvented Its Brand With Shopify Plus

How 55-Year-Old Crislu Doubled Sales & Reinvented Its Brand With Shopify Plus

A big gasp…

That’s the response we might have when we find something hideous hanging in our wardrobe closets that should’ve been updated, tossed, or never bought in the first place.

The digital equivalent of this is hitting up your website and grimacing because you don’t like what you see.

But that’s exactly the spot Crislu Jewelry, a multinational brand founded in 1961, found itself in several years ago when it realized time had passed it by. The affordable luxury jeweler was mostly a B2B company and sold its necklaces, bracelets, and earrings through traditional department stores.

Don’t be confused.

Customers loved the style, look, and quality of the company’s jewelry. But as consumer buying habits have expanded beyond the traditional brick and mortar retailers it sold through, the company’s website wasn’t filling the void or performing in a way that would allow the company to promote its image as relevant to consumers and grow its brand.

It was an old dog of a company that needed to learn some new tricks.

But its former ecommerce platform wasn’t up to the task.

$100 Phone Calls

The company became frustrated with the website it launched. It could do everything the team wanted it to do but not in ways that made financial sense. “Every time we picked up the phone it was $100 just to call,” Sun says. “It got to the point where we just lived with the problems rather than pick up the phone.”

Those problems included a clunky user experience and only a portion of Crislu’s product catalogue on display. “The last time we tried to update the catalogue we were told it was going to take several weeks and cost several thousand dollars,” Sun says. “It was really expensive to do basic things and just didn’t make any sense from an ROI perspective.”

The experience was so cumbersome and expensive Crislu even stopped experimenting with promotional campaigns. “It got to the point where we were trying to guess whether a promotion was going to bring in enough revenue to offset all of the costs,” says Cassidy Cohen, a marketer at the company. “We wound up only running promos that we had run in the past and had a track record.”

Despite an online presence, Crislu considered itself a B2B company. While it had a loyal base of customers who purchased the company’s jewelry through retail partners, Crislu could not reach those loyal customers cost-effectively online. Besides that, the company didn’t like what it saw when it looked at its site and couldn’t guarantee an enjoyable customer experience even if it could efficiently reach its target audience.

“It was really frustrating,” Cohen says. “We’re a 55-year-old company, but we didn’t want site visitors to feel like the site was 55-years-old.”

Crislu knew it had to reinvent itself fast.

And it decided to do so at the worst time imaginable.

The Rush to Relaunch

Crislu wanted an ecommerce partner that could grow with the company.

One with cutting edge tools Crislu could use to reimagine its brand and appeal directly to customers online in ways that would generate substantial ROI. “We didn’t want another ecommerce platform that would cost us just to maintain,” Sun says.

It made sense for us to go with a platform that we could count on to keep up with new technologies and would allow us to move much faster than we had in the past.

Crislu chose to replatform with Shopify Plus, an enterprise-level ecommerce solution for high volume merchants. “One of the most attractive things about Shopify was that we wanted a plug-and-play option that would give us everything we’d need not only to catch up to competitors but to get ahead as well,” Sun says.

But Crislu’s timing was horrible.

It was late summer 2015 and the holidays were just around the corner. Like many retailers, the Black Friday and Christmas sales periods are key for Crislu.

What better time to replatform and risk it all online?

Conventional wisdom says replatforming at such a critical time carries with it risks too big to take. But Crislu looked at the situation differently; if it could successfully replatform in the nick of time it just might position itself to generate record sales. “It’s risky whenever you overhaul your entire IT infrastructure,” Sun says. “If we mess it up, we’d be giving up Christmas sales.”

Relaunch, aim, ready.

The Launch Heard ‘Round the Jewelry World

Crislu’s gamble launching right before Thanksgiving paid off.

The look and feel of the site is so much better. The user experience is greatly improved and we can engage directly with customers in new ways.

Remember Crislu’s inability to cost-effectively display its entire catalogue of jewelry on its previous site? “I can upload new products in an hour now,” says Brittaney Sarmiento, Crislu’s site administrator. “I can quickly discount items we want to phase out and replace them with new merchandise. It’s great.

Not only was Crislu able to showcase all of its products online, but the company credits Shopify with making the catalogue much easier and more enjoyable for customers to navigate.

"It’s so easy with Shopify Plus," says Sarmiento. "I have a lot more flexibility to customize the site and change the way it looks based on customer behavior.

The results?

Since replatforming, Crislu says sales have doubled year over year.

We know sales doubled because of the new site. The frustrations we had before switching are gone now. It worked out really well.

Specifically, Sun says the site’s powerful analytics now allow the company to segment customers based on purchase history and generate additional sales by:

  • Targeting high frequency customers
  • Create personalized experiences for loyal customers
  • Offer gifts and rewards to stimulate customer loyalty

The team is now using Shopify’s app store to run promotions it couldn’t afford to in the past. For instance, Sarmiento is using applications to upsell customers and create incentives for shoppers to add items to their carts. “We no longer have any IT costs,” Sarmiento says. “I can implement 80-percent of the applications myself.

The launch is transforming the decades-old company into a new brand.

A B2C Brand is Born

“Shopify has changed the dynamic of our company in a good way,” Cohen says. “Before the switch were essentially a B2B company but that has changed.”

After replatforming, Crislu became a company that could sell directly to consumers. Not only is the company integrating social media where customers show off their beautiful pieces, but it’s also integrating email marketing campaigns and creating content it repurposes across channels.

“We’re a different company,” Cohen says. “We’re now able to directly target consumers online and reach customers who would never have found us in a brick and mortar store.”

The company is now making data-driven decisions and is tracking consumer behavior in ways that allow it to offer the right discounts to the right customer at the right time. “Yes, we’re still in brick and mortar stores, but Shopify has allowed us to grow our brand presence,” Cohen says. “When customers see our digital presence now they say ‘Oh my, that’s Crislu?’.”

The team believes there are lessons to be learned here for older brick and mortar companies that may be late to ecommerce. “It’s really easy to stick with what’s always worked and what you know,” Cohen says. “But our brick and mortar channel has not been hurt by our focus on ecommerce. Ecommerce has expanded our reach and earned us new customers.”

It’s proof old dog companies can learn new tricks.

But there are pitfalls Crislu wants others to avoid.

Infinite Options

“We’re getting better every week,” Cohen says proudly. “We see a big return on small investments.”

Crislu is constantly experimenting with new applications, fine-tuning its approach to promotions, and plans additional aesthetic improvements to the site.

We used to be so limited but now with Shopify we have infinite options.

But Crislu has some words of warning for others looking to establish a digital footprint.

Remember, the company replatformed at the worst possible time; the holiday sales rush. While it worked out stunningly, Crislu could have generated additional sales had it had more time to implement additional features and applications. “We really should have done it during the summer months,” Cohen says. “If you’re going to switch give yourself some time, so you’re not in a rush.

That said, Crislu expects an even better 2016 holiday season since the team won’t be so rushed and will have additional tools in place.

“Our sales doubled despite not having our ducks in a row,” Cohen says. “The platform made all the difference, and it didn’t even matter that we didn’t have all our ducks in a row. It’s going to get even better.”


About The Author

Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog. He helps individuals & organizations generate new leads, make more money, and ignite growth with story. Get more from Nick here.