Natori Wears Ecommerce Well with the Help of BigCommerce

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141%

increase in customers

164%

increase in orders

163%

increase in revenue

Performance metrics compare Jan-Feb, 2020 (pre-Covid) to Jan-Feb, 2022 over (post-Covid).

Getting a business off the ground

Josie Natori, founder and CEO of The Natori Company, literally took her business from the ground up when she began designing her own line of lingerie from her living room floor. Today her brand can be found in 25 countries in high-end boutiques and department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's.

Founded more than 40 years ago in 1977, Natori has come a long way from only selling lingerie. Just visit the company’s website and you will see an impressive and expansive offering of fashion-forward apparel and accessories to dress up self and home in “East-meets-West'' style.

In 2007, Josie’s son, Ken Natori joined the family business and worked his way up the ranks to become its president. Under his leadership the company built a booming direct-to-consumer business and ecommerce led the way.

CHALLENGE

Getting in the place where people are shopping

Until 2008, Natori was strictly a pure wholesale business. “Our bread and butter was selling to Saks, selling to Neiman Marcus, selling to Nordstrom, selling to Bloomingdale's. The business model had worked very well up until then, but there were some signs that were quite concerning. Loyalty to those stores used to be 100%. For instance, a top customer would go to Neiman Marcus for everything and not go anywhere else. But around the 2006-2008 time frame, we started to see that loyalty go away,” said Ken Natori, president at The Natori Company.

People were not just shopping at one store, but multiple stores, including down-market stores like TJ Maxx and Costco. “What had been uniform loyalty to the brand and retailer started to slip away. Instinctively we knew this was not great for our model. It made us begin to think of other ways to position our products to be in the places where people were shopping,” said Natori. “Back then everybody knew a change was coming and the Internet would be a part of it. The question was, how fast would customers move from in store to online shopping? We weren’t sure.” 

What Ken was sure about was that he didn’t want Natori to be behind the game. The company needed to figure out how it was going to get its skin in the game with ecommerce.

Ken led the investigation and eventual implementation of this new business model for the company, and in 2008 Natori launched its first ecommerce website on InsiteCommerce.

SOLUTION

BigCommerce makes ecommerce better

After eight years of being on InsiteCommerce, Natori wanted to run its online business on a platform that had more out-of-the box capabilities and gave the company the ability to scale at will. “If we’re going to grow this thing, we need to move to a new platform,” said Natori.

Demandware, Magento and Shopify Plus were considered, but it was BigCommerce that was selected, and the company launched on the platform in 2016. Ease of use, advanced merchandising capabilities and a streamlined navigation and filtering experience are several reasons why Natori remains with BigCommerce to this day.

“The Natori ecommerce team is pretty small. So we definitely needed a platform that would make it easy for us to maintain the site in an efficient way. And BigCommerce has definitely helped with that,” said Mariah Hager, ecommerce and social media manager at The Natori Company.

“We now have this foundational, yet versatile platform, where we do not have to find all these other partners each time we want to do something new. BigCommerce has done the work for us vetting hundreds of apps that allow us to pick and choose what we want and have the confidence of knowing it will work with the platform,” said Natori.

Plugged in

Plug-and-play apps are an important part of Natori’s ecommerce success, helping the business future proof itself with scalability and flexibility.

Natori uses several vetted BigCommerce apps to stay connected and in tune with its customers. “Our email marketing is done through Klaviyo and they have been a great partner for us. Searchspring is another big partner as well. We now have about 15 different product categories, which means there is a lot of product to keep track of. Searchspring makes it very easy for us to merchandise a ton of products in a lot of different categories across the site,” Natori said.

Then there is ShoppingGives, which enables customers to select a charity they’d like Natori to donate a percentage of their purchase to at the time of checkout. Ken says apps like ShoppingGives and Klaviyo “...make it easier for customers to feel closer to our products and the people behind them.”

Natori’s success across channels, from wholesale and online commerce to marketplaces like Amazon and Google Shopping, all play a major role in creating connected experiences for the business and its customers.

“Having access to BigCommerce’s open APIs, its app marketplace with partners and solutions to fit almost every need, our script manager functionality, and certainly omnichannel expansion are things that make the platform a major asset to Natori’s success,” said Colin Talbot, ecommerce and digital marketing specialist at The Natori Company.


Highlighted Applications:

Technical Features:

BigCommerce Services:

  • Customer Success Manager


“Having access to BigCommerce’s open APIs, its app marketplace with partners and solutions to fit almost every need, our script manager functionality, and certainly omnichannel expansion are things that make the platform a major asset to Natori’s success.”

Colin Talbot Ecommerce and Digital Marketing Specialist, the Natori Company

“We now have this foundational, yet versatile platform, where we do not have to find all these other partners each time we want to do something new. BigCommerce has done the work for us vetting hundreds of apps that allow us to pick and choose what we want and have the confidence of knowing it will work with the platform.”

Josie Natori Founder and CEO, The Natori Company
Case study device tablet natori

RESULTS

Ecommerce uptick in a downturn environment

When comparing pre-Covid against post-Covid metrics, Natori’s online performance has gone from strength to strength. The company realized a 141% increase in customers, a 164% increase in orders and a 163% increase in revenue in the time period comparing Jan-Feb, 2022, over the same time period for 2020.

Prior to the 2020 pandemic 80% of Natori’s revenue came from its wholesale business and 20% came from direct-to-consumer online sales. In the midst of the pandemic the company actually shut off all marketing as a precautionary move to stay afloat. Then something interesting happened.

Natori’s online orders started going through the roof and BigCommerce was able to handle the increased volume of shoppers and transactions without falling over.

“The ecommerce business went from a good 20% of our business, to a much larger part of that,” said Natori. “Ecommerce is no longer a small part of the company. In fact, culturally, in terms of how we operate, we now think of our business as omnichannel and that's how we focus on everything.”

At any given point in time, Natori has 1,500 active products and 10,000 active SKUs. BigCommerce enables the company to manage its large catalog on the back end while giving shoppers the ability to search and use filters to find exactly what they are looking for on the front end.

LOOKING AHEAD

Building and supporting brand loyalty

“We're always trying to innovate and do our best to stay a step ahead of the game. In about a year or so, we'll be launching Natori children and infant clothes as something new and fresh. But at the end of the day, we’re not trying to outrun or outdo the world. We'd rather be smaller, more consistent and make sure we're maintaining brand loyalty rather than being a bigger company just for the sake of growth and to be bigger,” said Natori.

As Natori continues to take new ground in the retail and ecommerce space, BigCommerce will continue to provide ecommerce innovation at the speed that supports Natori’s brand loyalty.



Published: June 2022

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