For years, down product manufacturer Joutsen's the online store and website were in separate locations. The online store's sales grew moderately each year, even though it didn't receive all the attention it could have.
– Joutsen is family business which has existed for more than 80 years. The image our customers have of us may have gotten a bit dusty. We feel the time has come to comprehensively renew our look, Erkki Juhonen, the Vice President of Joutsen says.
A large part of refreshing the Joutsen brand consisted of bringing the online store up to modern-day standards. The company's website and online store were combined at a single web address. This combination of the products and related information in one place was considered an important part of the brand overhaul.
(the video has English subtitles)
An Online Store Project Demands Trust
Joutsen kicked off its brand refresh a little over a year ago. Vice President Juhonen and the IT & Logistics Manager, Sami Salonen, made it their mission to find a solution that would meet the company's needs. There was plenty to figure out and research. For example, the existing online store had no communication with the warehouse and store systems used by Joutsen.
A suitable online store platform and partner were selected for this significant renovation: the Woolman team, for their impressive proficiency and competency, while Shopify was chosen to start building the new store.
Here, a crucial factor was the trust that was established quickly between the operators.
– Choosing to use Shopify as the platform and beginning cooperation with Woolman were decisions that we haven't had to regret, Salonen says.
– An online store project is quite a significant undertaking for a company. You have to let outsiders in on various aspects of your company's operations, and that alone requires a lot of trust, Juhonen says.
The design of the new online store is based on Finnish colors and the lightness that characterizes down. The current online store is connected to the warehouse and stores, which significantly eases the management of the online store, the eight Joutsen brick-and-mortar stores, and the network of retailers.
Light and Clean
Joutsen was established in 1936. In the fifties, the company moved from Helsinki to Riihimäki. Even decades ago, the local waters, filtered by sandy ridges, and the area's good transport links for logistics made moving there a sensible choice.
Today, Joutsen employs approximately 100 people in Riihimäki, in its stores around the country, and in St. Petersburg and Tallinn. The duvets and pillows are made in the down factory In Riihimäki, while coats and accessories come from Märjamaa, Estonia.
– Riihimäki is a good place for a down factory, as is Finland. We are the northernmost down factory in Finland, and that alone distinguishes us to some extent from other operators in the global market, Juhonen says.
Joutsen has been awarded the Finnish Allergy Label by the Finnish Allergy, Skin and Asthma Federation. The down duvets and pillows are an appropriate and safe choice for people with allergies. The down products manufactured by Joutsen do not gather dust, as the down has been washed and cleaned effectively without chemicals.
A Steep Learning Curve
Building the online store has been a steep learning curve. Absorbing new ideas has demanded time investments outside normal working hours, too. The long days and boundless interest have paid off.
Salonen knows that how key online is for the company's growth. What happens next is in their own hands.
– We have learned, and at the same time grown a lot as merchants, but we still have a long way to go. Woolman has supported and assisted on our journey to becoming online store specialists, Salonen says.
– There's a lot of things we have to learn ourselves. The road may be harder to travel, but it is sure to reward us in the end, Juhonen says.
The Journey Continues Internationally
The new Finnish Joutsen online store was launched in November 2017. The first months have given Mr. Juhonen and Mr. Salonen plenty to smile about. The sales numbers for January 2018 were an unqualified success, up several hundred percent on the same month the previous year. The English Joutsen.com online store was launched in the beginning of February.
The favorable numbers were made possible by the new, smooth online store and successful campaigns. Detailed plans for the coming year have already been made, and the company knows what moves to make next.
– We have plans for emphasizing certain products, campaigns, and seasons better in the new store. Now we can do things in house that we used to have to outsource, Salonen says.
Even though the new domestic online store is still fresh, the company is also working on an international one. The international markets outside Finland are challenging, but also offers a host of untapped opportunities. In most countries, down products are used more widely than in Finland.
On the international markets, Joutsen wants to stand out with Nordic craftmanship, dedicated skills, and purity. These are the elements that create high-quality, durable products.