Kokatat Makes Waves in the Digital Space with BigCommerce

Discover how customizable, cost-effective and reliable BigCommerce is and why we built it that way.

https://images.ctfassets.net/wowgx05xsdrr/WNyQoajVf90SV3Di4xOgV/fff8360b1ba7c60ae09ec7211eed8a71/case-study-device-laptop-kokatat_402x.png

12.76%

increase in revenue

33%

increase in conversion rate

2020

Year launched on BigCommerce

Performance metrics compare July 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020 over July 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019.

By paddlers, for paddlers

Since 1971, Kokatat has been on a mission to develop the finest and driest paddling apparel in the world. After falling in love with the community and natural beauty of Arcata, California (Kokatat’s current headquarters), Steve O’Meara founded the now world-renowned brand, which now boasts nearly 200 employees and a global audience.

With a “by paddlers, for paddlers” vision, Kokatat keeps almost all of its production local in order to control quality and continually provide its customers with the best products possible. But with a growing online presence in recent years, the paddling brand also strives to create the best customer experiences possible — and it all starts with its ecommerce store.

CHALLENGE

Technical debt and content limitations with Magento 1.

When Kokatat first launched its brand online, the company’s original site lived on Magento 1. However, the paddling brand soon found itself facing a number of challenges — one being technical debt. Dealing with constant security, performance updates and ongoing maintenance, the team felt they were unable to focus their efforts and budget on the tasks that would truly drive growth.

Second, Kokatat sought to seamlessly integrate its product content and stories throughout its website. As a brand rooted in story-telling, Kokatat has become well known for its engaging content experiences, which uses its pro team and global ambassadors to share personal stories, paddling tips, events and more. Thus, Kokatat needed a strong CMS and ecommerce platform to support its vast content infrastructure.

“It brings the site to life when you can see our products out in the world getting used. The site is very content-rich, and we put a lot of effort into getting the content but also making sure it’s updated so that it’s always fresh,” said Matt Porter, Product Manager and Web Manager at Kokatat.

Lastly, Kokatat needed a solution that would enhance the user experience, allowing customers to customize their dry suits in real-time. With some of its dry suits having nearly 100 configurable options and colors, Kokatat needed an easy way for customers to visualize the finished product without having to go in-store.

“The site is very content-rich, and we put a lot of effort into getting the content but also making sure it’s updated so that it’s always fresh.”

Matt Porter  Product Manager & Web Manager, Kokatat

SOLUTION

Achieving lower total cost of ownership with SaaS.

In hopes of finding an ecommerce solution better suited to its future goals, Kokatat turned to global development and consulting “anti-agency,” Overdose. Working with Kokatat since 2016, Overdose already had a meaningful relationship with the paddling company and was well-acquainted with its business needs.

To address the challenge of technical debt, Kokatat determined that the best approach would be to migrate to a SaaS-based enterprise solution. This would minimize the total cost of ownership by removing the costs of security patches, updates and maintenance, as all of these would be included in the platform subscription fee. After vetting several platforms, Overdose determined that BigCommerce was the solution best-suited to support Kokatat in its ecommerce goals.

“BigCommerce has features that are complex enough for the enterprise-level businesses. Other platforms that we've worked with just don't offer the features or functionality that an enterprise business needs,” explained Jordan Hunter, Technical Director at Overdose. “The tools and features that BigCommerce offers really suit that level of business to be able to meet their requirements and challenges.”

Blending the brand and shopping experiences.

To support Kokatat’s content strategy, Overdose recommended a “reverse headless” approach, with Contentful serving as its content management system and BIgCommerce as its ecommerce engine. Leveraging BigCommerce’s open templating, Overdose was able to build a customized version of the Cornerstone theme to achieve the desired design and customer experience.

“Then we added the Contentful JavaScript SDK, which we then implemented into our custom theme JavaScript, and that provides rich content from Contentful on Twitter pages using a PWA approach,” explained Kelati Andemichael, SaaS Development Lead at Overdose.

With BigCommerce providing the native cart and checkout and Contentful managing the content, Kokatat has been able to blend the brand and shopping experiences across the blog, team and expedition sections of its site. This way, Kokatat can leverage branded content to support its products, while also leveraging its products to support branded content.

“With this solution, BigCommerce allows us to spend less time supporting a full stack infrastructure and more time focusing on strategizing the front-end,” said Andemichael.

Lastly, addressing the need for more customizable experiences, Overdose built a custom suit configurator for Kokatat. Leveraging BigCommerce’s product modifiers, custom fields and storefront API, Kokatat can now let customers design their own GORE-TEX PRO dry suit, customizing everything from colors and sizes to material and other unique features. Built on custom templates within Stencil, the custom suit builder allows customers to view changes to their dry suit in real-time, allowing them to view the finished product before making a final purchase.

Highlighted Applications:

“With this solution, BigCommerce allows us to spend less time supporting a full stack infrastructure and more time focusing on strategizing the front-end.”

Kelati Andemichael  SaaS Development Lead, Overdose

“BigCommerce has features that are complex enough for the enterprise-level businesses. Other platforms that we've worked with just don't offer the features or functionality that an enterprise business needs. The tools and features that BigCommerce offers really suit that level of business to be able to meet their requirements and challenges.”

Jordan Hunter, Technical Director, Overdose

Case study device tablet kokatat 2x

RESULTS

Modernizing for the future with a composable commerce approach.

With the guidance of Overdose and the flexibility of BigCommerce, Kokatat has found the tools it needs to modernize the ecommerce side of its business. Leveraging Contentful as its CMS, along with other apps and integrations such as ShipperHQ, Klaviyo and Avalara, Kokatat has been able to build out its tech stack to meet the company’s unique needs.

But most importantly, Kokatat has found the openness it needs to modernize its tech stack and prepare the business for whatever lies ahead.

“BigCommerce is API-first, so it provides a good solution for a business that wants to make their business more composable, because we can adapt BigCommerce to work with other third-party platforms and ERP systems,” said Hunter. “BigCommerce gives a path forward for enterprise businesses to become more modern and composable as they look to develop their business in the future.”

Since launching its new site on BigCommerce, Kokatat has seen a notable increase across several key areas, including revenue and conversion rates. When comparing 2020 performance metrics over 2019, the company has experienced a 12.76% increase in revenue and a 33% increase in conversion rate.

“BigCommerce gives a path forward for enterprise businesses to become more modern and composable as they look to develop their business in the future.”

Jordan Hunter  TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, Overdose

LOOKING AHEAD

Continuous innovation.

So what lies ahead for Kokatat? According to Porter, the future can be summed up in one word: innovation.

“I’m excited to continue innovating on the dry suit, the apparel stuff, the life jackets, etc. We’ve got some cool stuff coming out, and we’re continuing to push the envelope on comfort and durability for our dry wear,” said Porter.

As a brand made by paddlers, for paddlers, Kokatat is committed to continuously improving its products in order to best serve its customers, both online and offline. 52 years in the making, this brand has truly made waves in the paddling and outdoors space — but now with BigCommerce as its trusted partner and Overdose at its side, Kokatat has succeeded in making a name for itself in the ecommerce space, too.

Published: March 2024

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