Lacked a content tool to scale storytelling and streamline publishing processes
Frequent campaigns and collaborations depleted development resources
Low visibility into content and design changes drew out approval and publishing processes
A composable content platform stores and structures content for future scaling
An easy-to-use editorial interface puts content management back in the hands of marketers
Solution partner Shopstory offers additional design capabilities to support unique projects
Third-party integration Ninetailed streamlines A/B testing and supports personalization
“Our content editors can run A/B tests whenever they’d like and build pages based on those findings. Overall, the load on the Engineering team is much smaller and we get a lot of satisfaction seeing how these new capabilities change our ways of working.”
“Everything we do comes back to build a brand people will love — a big part of that is storytelling. What is your story? What types of content are you telling it with? How is that content displayed? The more flexible your technology is, the better you can tell that story.”
“We want to make sure we add tools that are very simple for our internal teams to use. They should be empowered to do things separately from the tech team, so not everything has to be a request followed by a long wait. The goal is to remove blockers and bring ideas to production.”
Your choice of eyewear says a lot about you. Round wireframes — you appreciate simplicity. Tigerwood sunnies — a fan of classic fashion. A punchy color or cat eye — you love a bit of drama. To tell the right story, you have to find the right fit — and traditional methods of purchasing eyewear don’t make it easy. This was something Amsterdam-based eyewear company Ace & Tate hoped to remedy by launching a digital eyewear storefront in 2013. Today, you can find Ace & Tate frames on the faces of folks in over 19 countries online or within one of its 85+ brick-and-mortar stores.
While affordability and convenience draw in many first-time customers, Ace & Tate’s colorful campaigns and quirky artist collaborations turn them into brand loyalists. “Everything we do comes back to building a brand people love — a big part is storytelling. What do we stand for? What content best communicates it? How is that content displayed?” Sheri Kruzel, Head of Digital Product at Ace & Tate, said of the company’s marketing strategy.
While Kruzel and her team had a clear vision of the first two pieces, they were nearsighted on the latter — a limiting ecommerce platform and an entirely absent content platform were to blame. This realization led Ace & Tate to invest in its storytelling by adopting Contentful. In its move from suite to stack, the company was also able to integrate other purpose-built tools to support improved collaboration and custom user experiences.
Ditching a near-sighted ecommerce monolith
Ace & Tate’s initial Magento-powered ecommerce was well-equipped to handle transactions and product management. Still, it lacked the editorial flexibility to support ongoing product and campaign launches — including exclusive collaborations with artists and designers.
“One-third of our development time went towards updating content for these marketing initiatives,” Kruzel said. “We needed a tool that would enable editorial independence, ultimately removing blockers and bringing ideas to production more quickly.” With documented wins in each category, Ace & Tate adopted Contentful.
The company didn’t want to completely close shop to adopt its new, scalable stack, so it took an iterative approach, beginning with the basics. First, it built out a library of standard content types. From there, it moved on to migrating its homepage and other, more evergreen, web pages. Creative teams had no problem editing and publishing these digital assets. The editorial interface was easy to navigate and understand.
Embracing Contentful’s eye-opening extensibility
With Ace & Tate's unique campaigns and collaborations came unique needs — and stakeholder buy-in. While the marketing team was able to easily input, iterate, and adapt pages from a library of content types based on feedback from stakeholders, they weren’t able to preview those changes in real time, as they made them, for final approval. Its content models presented a secondary issue.
While important for establishing the design systems that drive consistency across Ace & Tate’s site in support of building brand trust, these models weren’t designed to support the one-off creative projects that are core to Ace & Tate’s success. Contentful’s extensibility, ecosystem of technology partners, and Marketplace offered a straightforward resolution — partnering with Shopstory.
The app, which adds visual-building capabilities to Contentful’s editorial interface as well as real-time site previews, would offer creatives within Ace & Tate a more flexible, engaging way to manipulate content and media to build visually stunning digital experiences. As expected, the post-adoption results were overwhelmingly positive.
“It's so straightforward,” Kruzel said of using the tools. “For example, our online merchandiser can build campaign pages visually in Shopstory and easily add or adjust specific design elements and content blocks. To get it out the door, all that’s needed is a quick sign-off from our Creative team.”
On the subject of sign-offs, Shopstory has also simplified Ace & Tate’s stakeholder reviews. Creatives can make changes and display them in real time with the option to toggle between views for different devices. “It's powerful. We can present recommended design changes in the context of how they’ll actually function. Stakeholders can use a staging link to see and interact with changes immediately, making it easier to get input and buy-in,” Kruzel shared.
“Adding Shopstory to Ace & Tate’s stack decreased production timelines significantly. It cut out the back-and-forth communication common with high-priority projects and created a pocket of time to experiment towards building more exhilarating, customer-loved experiences,” Marcin Nogal, Co-Founder and Design Lead at Shopstory, said.
Finding the right content fit to drive customer engagement
To ensure further content and campaigns land with customers, Ace & Tate added Ninetailed to its stack. While the personalization capabilities were initially what attracted Ace & Tate, Ninetailed’s A/B testing capabilities were the selling point. Following a successful pilot, Ace & Tate retired its old tool and pressed forward with a full-scale implementation of Ninetailed.
The outcomes were as good as the company had hoped. Instead of only A/B testing one content asset a month (typical with its old solution). Ace & Tate can carry out multiple tests, all without developer support. An early test of its site navigation yielded enough data to make permanent changes that increased customer engagement.
Kruzel went on to share the company's most recent test: its homepage. Using Shopstory’s visual prowess and Ninetailed’s personalization engine, they were able to build and test three homepage types — a brand-centric one, one more sales-focused, and one more personable. Bringing together Contentful, Shopstory, and Ninetailed, Ace & Tate can continue to delight their customers and discover which experience they prefer, segment them, and personalize the content accordingly.
Offering a glimpse of what’s to come
The outcomes achieved with Contentful, Shopstory, and Ninetailed are inspiring Ace & Tate to see how else it can exercise the extensibility of its modern stack. One area they’d like to focus on is brushing up on localization workflows.
“We support Dutch, German, French, Spanish, and English. As far as processes go, our copywriter creates the original content in English. Once approved, we send it to our network of translators and from there, make edits based on a review by internal native speakers. Finally, someone from our product or ecommerce team adds it to Contentful,” Kruzel said.
In the meantime, the brand will continue creating captivating campaigns much to the pleasure of its customers.
Interested in learning more about the Ace & Tate story? Check out the on-demand webinar to hear Kruzel discuss the company’s full use of Contentful and Shopstory.