"Avensia taught us that this is not an e-commerce, this is a brand temple"


Tradition. Tailor-made craftmanship. Uniqueness.  Loyalty to retailers. How can these brand values be conveyed onto a digital platform? How can you attract a new and younger audience online and at the same time, keep the personal relationship with your existing customers and retailers? The answer in the case of Stenströms, was to create one tailormade solution for their retailers, and one for their end consumers. 

The Stenströms story started in 1899 when the shirt factory was founded in Helsingborg, Sweden. It is still a family-owned company, and values and tradition are an important part of the brand.  In March 2016 the Stenströms board took the decision to start their digital journey.

-We realized that there is no going back, says Marie Ramberg, Marketing and Sales manager, with a history of 14 years at Stenströms. Suddenly everything is available, all the time. Everyone can get information about all garments from all over the world, 24 -7. We perceived that our customers wanted to see our entire collections, not only a few garments.
-The board decided that we needed to be part of the digital transformation that almost exploded in our face, says Fredrik Strandberg, CEO of Stenströms. What woke us up is that the end consumer is already shopping digital. 

During the initial meetings with Avensia’s advisors, Stenströms idea was to only have a small B2B site, to optimize their way of working with their agents and retailers. When the partnership between Stenströms and Avensia was signed, the ambition of the project was altered completely. The plan was now to build a future-proof and sophisticated B2B solution, and a B2C that would bring Stenströms products to their customers, beyond the limitations of shop opening hours.  

- Stenströms don’t make mediocre shirts and Avensia don’t make mediocre solutions, says Johan Sommar, omni-channel commerce advisor at Avensia. We wanted to take Stenströms into the digital future with the same type of quality and craftmanship that defines their brand.

 “Digital transformation is not just a matter for the IT department”

To accommodate the change from selling garments only through physical stores, to launch a digital sales platform, the Stenströms organization needed to grow. An e-commerce manager, a CIO and a web editor were hired, together with an art director and photographer who creates both product images and inspirational pictures, to ensure a coherent visual experience for the customer, across all channels.

Along the way to digitalization, it became apparent that data and information structure was going to be crucial to get there. The transformation would tie Stenströms closer to their agents, retailers and end consumers, with a common platform to communicate on, but it also meant that more people would be dependent on hard data like stock information, prices and campaigns. Stenströms themselves would have to handle end consumer prices themselves, on their B2C site, which was new to them.   

- By starting this digital product there were things we needed to adjust, and not only technical things, says SEO Fredrik. From the design table to logistics. We needed to make changes in management, and not just the management team working with the digital matters. We learned that we needed to involve the whole company.

 Staying true to the brand when going digital

Stenströms is a high quality brand. When selling the type of products like Stenströms, where the look and feel breathes quality, it is important that the UX of the digital marketplace does the same.

- That is why we didn’t want to give Stenströms just Best practice, says Johan Sommar, we wanted to give them Next practice. Stenströms should not just live up to today’s standards for an e-commerce experience, they must stand out, exceed standards and exceed expectations. A sophisticated solution, but still something that Stenströms could handle.
- We are still beginners, we still have so much to learn, so we need a strong partner along the way, says CEO Fredrik, but we are confident that this is the right way, and we are proud. We have been able to keep our philosophy and our values along the way. This has not been a change to our brand.

 The B2B site – a showroom for brand ambassadors and their customers

The B2B site provides Stenströms’s agents, distributors and retailers with a better tool to handle their business. It contains several B2B functionalities like smart search, online ordering and tools for retailers to show customers the whole product line.

Stenströms value their retailers, their brand ambassadors, very high, which is why they went for a sophisticated omni-channel solution where the retailers can give the end consumer even better service in the physical store. Customers can try out the perfect fit of shirt in a physical store, store staff can show the customer all available variations of that shirt on a monitor or a tablet. They can easily hide the dealer price when showing products to customers.  They can then order products to be delivered directly to the customer’s home. This makes the B2B-solution an important and user-friendly sales tool for retailers. 

In general, the ability for retailers to see and order products online, has been a gamechanger for Stenströms, who until the launch of the B2B site only took orders during office hours.

-From day one agents and customers could see our stock, and see if we had a specific garment, requested by a customer in the shop, says Marie Ramberg. Also, orders come in during the evenings and weekends when our office is closed. That is a big change, a pleasant one.

 Results of the B2B site launch:

- For my costumers, the retailers, it has been very positive, says Gustav Wernberg, sales representative for southern Sweden. It´s a new way for them to work with Stenströms, but they really appreciate the improvements. Smart search enables retailers to search for article numbers, fabric numbers, fit numbers, and they can even search for small fragments of article numbers, which is unique for Stenströms. 

Retailers can now show end consumers the whole product range in a new way. This has had several results:

  • they now order more than just shirts
  • the sales of knitwear, blazers and accessories have gone up
  • many retailers have started to sell women’s wear as well
  • Stenströms sell more, in general

With the new B2B system, retailers can see stock status, and this has made them buy more when the supply is limited, and as a result, Stenströms empty their stock to a greater extent. 

- Another great feature, which we are very proud of, is that a shop can order a garment online and send to the end consumer, and still treat it as a shop deal, says Gustav Wernberg. 

 The B2C site – a brand temple

Stenströms has a long tradition of making high quality garments, and sell them via loyal retailers. Some of the retailers have been acting as brand ambassadors for Stenströms for more than 50 years. With such loyal customers, there was a fear that the B2C site would change that valuable relationship, with the possibility that the Stenströms online store would steal customers from the shops.

-The decision was controversial, it meant that we would be competing with our retailers in one way, says Fredrik Strandberg, but we were also determined to help them, by giving them a sophisticated B2B system. 

The B2C site is a way of futureproofing and modernizing Stenströms’s offer. Their customers are already online, and will stay there, so that is where Stenströms need to be too. The site is a complement to the physical stores and gives the end consumers the possibility to see and buy Stenströms products whenever they want, instead of just during shop opening hours

 Results of the B2C site launch

The B2C has just been launched, and the results are yet to be seen, but the fears that Stenströms initially had about going online with the B2C site would steal customers and damage business with their retailers, have turned into confidence. With the insights that they have a well-managed omni-channel strategy to act on, they can not only strengthen their brand, but also be confident that Stenströms is a company in sync with modern consumer habits.

- When the board took the decision to start with this digital product, we were discussing e-commerce. But Avensia taught us that this is not an e-commerce, it is a brand temple. Where you tell your story and show your products. We learned that the more we market the brand and the products, we create business for our retailers as well. A classic win-win situation.