Leather handbags, wallets and accessories manufacturer and retailer Hobo sells more than 500 SKUs online and its web sales have grown more than 100% over the past two years. However, to manage and continue such rapid growth, Hobo needed an easy-to-customize e-commerce platform, says Jane Scott, senior director of direct to consumer for the retailer, which sells online at HoboBags.com.
As a midsized retailer, Hobo has a seven-person internal team who each spend part of their time supporting e-commerce initiatives, Scott says. These employees generate creative for the site, write front-end code and work on product merchandising, including launching new products and copy. They also prioritize site updates and enhancements and work on digital marketing, customer service and analytics and planning—a lengthy list of tasks for a handful of employees.
“We are not the huge brand in the handbag space,” Scott, says. “Since we are a midsized player, it is important that we make use of the competitive advantage of our size and our ability to be dynamic.”
Scott says Hobo has a loyal base of shoppers who often return to the site two times in the same day. Additionally, Hobo’s average units per transaction grew more than 5% last year.
To keep up with its swift pace of online growth, Hobo moved to e-commerce platform firm Kibo late last year. Hobo began working with Kibo in February 2017 and launched on the new platform in early October to be live in time for National Handbag Day on Oct. 10.
“We were seeking a company that would provide the support required for the growth that our emerging direct-to-consumer brand is experiencing,” Scott says.
Hobo says the platform gives the retailer creative and coding control over the site so that Hobo’s staff can quickly and easily make changes.
“[We have] complete control over the look and feel of our home page, our branded pages and many other pages throughout the site, in addition to the header and footer, all of which we can update any time with our own in-house front-end developer,” Scott says. For example, staff can write custom code into a blank HTML field to add a feature to the site, Scott says, adding that the platform is user friendly for entry-level employees to highly seasoned front-end developers.
The ability to quickly respond to user behavior is paying off in visitor activity. Time on Hobo’s home page has increased 5% so far this year over last year, and bounce and exit rates have each dropped by 4.5%, Scott says.
“Our users are staying on site and clicking through to learn more and shop our Hobo handbags and wallets,” Scott says. For example, shoppers are spending 24% longer in Hobo’s lookbook. The majority of visitors who come to the lookbook are spending at least one minute there, and the bounce rate from the lookbook has dropped by more than 16% year over year, Scott says. “We have been able to design without boundaries, and we are seeing positive responses from our users.”
With the new site, Hobo also is able to use the same catalog, marketing and merchandising tools on its new B2B site as its B2C site.
“After a few years without one, we are relaunching our B2B site,” Scott says. “Our B2C and B2B sites can share attributes, which allow for one product upload to cover both sites, which saves us from having to create and maintain and two complete lists.” And, with the ability to access and manipulate both sites, staff can easily copy and paste any look-and-feel changes across both sites, she says.
In addition to creative control, the new site enables Hobo to easily offer complex discounts, update orders with notes from customer service, maintain accurate inventory, load new products to the site and plug in new technology—such as fraud protection or international checkout—Hobo says.
Since moving to Kibo, Hobo’s sales are up 62% in 2018, and units per transaction are up 12%, Scott says.
In 2015, e-commerce platform provider MarketLive Inc., order fulfillment software firm Shopatron and mobile point-of-sale vendor Fiverun merged to form cloud-based e-commerce platform Kibo. Kibo also in 2016 acquired Mozu, the enterprise-level e-commerce platform from Volusion LLC, another platform provider. Kibo ranks No. 9 among e-commerce platform providers to Top 1000 merchants, with 17 Top 1000 clients, according to Internet Retailer’s 2018 Guide to E-commerce Platforms.
Hobo is No. 1,000 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000.