By Thorunn Devoy, on Jun 9, 2020

Fast, easy, engaging: Alpro rebuilds website with Contentful

Laptop and Alpro notebook at the desk of a web designer

If you prefer plant-based food and live in Europe, you’re probably fond of Alpro. The global leader in plant-based products offers beloved dairy-free options for milk, ice cream, yogurt and coffees. Recently, the company updated its brand, including its 7-year-old website that reaches nearly 40 global markets. The digital agency Appnovation helped them do it in less than six months.

A new website with a hard deadline

Alpro knew what it needed in a new website: a more engaging online experience for customers, especially through mobile channels, and an online experience that reflected Alpro’s personality, values and spirit. And Alpro editors needed an interface that would help them publish across all markets.

A new digital presence was overdue. In 2019, the company’s website lagged behind the growing popularity of Alpro’s products. As Europe’s most trusted healthy food brand, Alpro has been expanding its presence in recent years to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 

The company was scheduled to release its newly rebranded products in the UK, its largest market. For a website as large and complex as Alpro’s, a rebuild would normally take nine months. But Appnovation was determined to complete the UK website in time for the arrival of Alpro’s newly packaged products on grocery store shelves. “If you are doing new product branding and you come out with a website a couple months later, it’s a missed opportunity,” says Piet-Hein van Drie, Appnovation’s managing director for Belgium. “We said, let’s be faster so when you [Alpro] go out into the market with your products, you can have your website rolled out at the same time.”  

Appnovation was able to deliver the new website reflecting Alpro’s new brand in just six months by building a modern web stack with Contentful as the content platform. 

Content models: Flexibility and scalability

Appnovation chose Contentful for the flexibility and scalability that structured content and content models provide. Content models are particularly valuable for a global enterprise like Alpro that needs to publish in multiple languages, across multiple markets, while keeping its brand identity consistent. 

Content modeling helps marketers to use and re-use content across all digital channels. It’s a great system for a company that’s rapidly expanding its product lines, or creating a series of new experiences for its customers and prospects. Alpro is doing both.

Screenshot of the we're in it together webpage

Alpro used Contentful for two different campaigns, proving just how quickly a new digital experience can be released. 

The first new launch supported a new ad campaign featuring legendary runner Usain Bolt. “Alpro needed an event site for the campaign, so we rolled one out, using Contentful,” says Piet-Hein. The campaign itself was a notable success, viewed millions of times on YouTube, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Screenshot of reporting on the Usain Bolt campaign

Next, Alpro released a pair of websites featuring a program for independent UK coffee shops that have been hit hard by COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown. Alpro and several partners offer grants to coffee shops to help them survive the sudden decline in business, and Alpro offers the opportunity to try its plant-based milks for free. It took the team just three weeks to complete both. 

“Stakeholders have been really pleasantly surprised by how fast we can get a local campaign up and running,” says Ralph Urmel, international digital experience manager at Alpro. 

“We were able to achieve this in a very short time frame with the help of Appnovation, and thanks to the content model used in Contentful,” Ralph says. “We were able to repurpose some of the models created for our global brand website, but still give this [coffee shop initiative] website a unique and distinct look and feel. We also developed some new content models for this site, which we expect to reuse in the future.”

Extensibility is key for global websites

Alpro needed a digital platform that could support a highly performant, informative, easy-to-navigate website serving nearly 40 different markets. Each site has to provide content in visitors’ own languages, and be appropriately localized, while consistently expressing Alpro’s brand and values. 

The UK market was the first to get the new packaging and new website. The rollout to the rest of Alpro’s markets began shortly after, with Contentful and its integrated translation and localization technology supporting this rapid expansion.

Contentful has a range of other tools that customers can integrate thanks to open APIs.

“We were able to integrate a number of services and tools that we were already using,” says Ralph. These include Paperform for building web forms, Swiftype for search and Bynder for digital asset management. The stack also includes React for building user interfaces, Gatsby for fast performance, and Netlify for automated deployment. 

“The speed and performance have been consistent, and haven’t failed at all over the past months,” says Piet-Hein. “So this has proven to be a very good architecture integrated with Contentful.”

A faster path to productivity

For Alpro, getting a new staff member up to speed with Contentful is smooth and fast.. Alpro’s former digital agency trained new employees on the old CMS, and it took a long time for them to get comfortable and become productive.

“Training a content manager on Contentful can be done in half a day,” says Ralph. “Our market digital brand managers were able to quickly start managing their own product catalogs independently.” In fact, Contentful is so much simpler to use, Alpro has brought most content work back in house, saving time and money.

Supporting Alpro’s business goals

Alpro needs to meet its customers where they’re at, especially as more people learn about the health and ecological benefits of a plant-based diet.

Alpro plans to engage a larger share of on-the-go shoppers who stop in small convenience stores to pick up breakfast or a snack on their way to the office, or while running errands. They need to ensure people can easily find nutrition information via digital channels while standing in front of a refrigerated drinks display, or help people find a store that stocks Alpro conveniently close to home or work.

Effective cross-selling on Alpro’s website will increase awareness of the many ways its products can be used and enjoyed. “If you’re a fan of the coconut milk, why not try the coconut ice cream?” says Piet-Hein. Recipes using Alpro products are now easy to find with just a single touch or click.  

Think “mobile first”

Most customers experience Alpro on their phones. Eighty-five percent of Alpro’s online traffic comes from mobile, up from 60 percent in 2017. Contentful makes it easier for marketers and content creators to think about the experience of mobile first, rather than simply defaulting to web pages and expecting responsive design to do the legwork. 

With APIs for previewing content, editors, writers, designers and marketers can see how something new will look on the website, the mobile site or in other channels. And when it’s time to push to live production, Contentful’s APIs make that easy, too.

Increased customer engagement

Alpro aimed to increase repeat visits from customers. On the old website, most visits were unique. Shortly after launching the new UK website and mobile site, Alpro saw an uptick in repeat visits; furthermore, repeats accounted for a higher proportion of total visits, even as site traffic increased. Page views per visit increased, too. “It’s definitely a website where it’s more fun to linger than before,” Ralph says.

Interested in trying Contentful yourself? We’d be happy to speak with you.

Thorunn Devoy

Thorunn is a partner marketing manager with Contentful and works with our partners to highlight our work together. She spends her free time reading the Economist, doing yoga and brushing up her German skills