Case study: Alpro

From brief to live site in 6 months: Alpro’s new brand shines across 32 markets

Alpro is the global leader in plant-based food products, and is well known for its drinks made from soya, almonds, hemp, coconut and other plant sources. Founded 40 years ago and based in Ghent, Belgium, Alpro offers more than 150 products in 32 markets across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Appnovation is a global digital consulting agency headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. The agency has 350 employees in 15 locations across North America, Asia and Europe. Appnovation offers a range of services including digital strategy, experience design, development, data analytics and 24-hour managed services.

With fresh new packaging for its plant-based products scheduled to hit grocery-store shelves in the UK – its largest market – Alpro engaged digital agency Appnovation to design and build a modern new website.

Alpro asked Appnovation to deliver the new site in nine months. But the agency wanted to deliver it in just six months.

“If you are doing new product branding and you come out with a website a couple of 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 in the market with your products, you can have your website rolled out at the same time.”

Alpro, a 40-year-old company known for its plant-based milk drinks and other healthful vegan products, operates in 32 markets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Every country site needs to be appropriately localized, and address customers in their own language, while still keeping the Alpro brand consistent.

Another wrinkle: 85 percent of Alpro’s online traffic is now mobile. So Alpro needs to think mobile first, and consider where the customer could be: looking at their products on the shelf in a grocery store; viewing Alpro’s advertising on a subway platform during their daily commute; or in the kitchen at home, getting ready to cook from a recipe on the Alpro website.

With all this complexity, Alpro needed a content architecture that would provide flexibility and a fast, easy interface for marketers and content creators. Contentful’s modular architecture, intuitive user interface and multiple integrations with popular technical and business applications made it the natural choice for Alpro’s digital platform.

Appnovation set to work with a short but thorough period of discovery. Six months later, as Alpro’s newly packaged products arrived in shops across the UK, the new UK site and mobile site went live, showcasing Alpro’s new brand and customer-oriented content strategy. The rest of Alpro’s rebranded localized websites will roll out as newly packaged products land on grocery shelves in each market.

It’s quite ridiculous how fast we can get content out now, in comparison to how it was before. — Ralph Urmel, International Digital Experience Manager, Alpro

We are very proud to be a new Gold partner of Contentful. — Piet-Hein van Drie, Managing Director (Belgium), Appnovation

Training a content manager on Contentful can be done in half a day. With our old CMS, it would be weeks before you got the gist of it. Our market digital brand managers were able to quickly start managing their own product catalogs independently. — Ralph Urmel, International Digital Experience Manager, Alpro

Managing assets and campaigns has been a breeze. We were able to integrate a number of services and tools we were already using: a product information management tool for our catalogs, and Bynder for our digital asset management tool. Stakeholders have been pleasantly surprised by how fast we can get a local campaign up and running. — Ralph Urmel, International Digital Experience Manager, Alpro

Multi-market campaigns are easy to launch because of the way Contentful handles translations and localizations. — Ralph Urmel, International Digital Experience Manager, Alpro

Faster, easier and more effective

The new UK mobile and desktop sites elicit more customer engagement. Traffic used to skew heavily towards unique visits. Now Alpro is seeing a higher proportion of return visits, and the number of pages viewed per visit is trending up. “It’s definitely a website where it’s more fun to linger than before,” says Ralph Urmel, international digital experience manager at Alpro.

Contentful’s management APIs, multilingual support and modular structure make it easy for Alpro marketers to control and publish content themselves, rather than relying on an agency as they did in the past. They don’t have to tap their engineering colleagues for help, either. Regional sites can be launched easily and quickly at the right time, and sites supporting campaigns have also proved easy to spin up fast.

For example, Alpro launched an ad campaign featuring runner Usain Bolt while Appnovation was in the midst of building the new website. “Alpro needed an event site for the campaign, and using Contentful, we were able to roll it out,” says Piet-Hein van Drie.

Another new site that was launched quickly showcases a new outreach program for independent UK coffee shops suffering from lack of business during the COVID-19 quarantine. Alpro’s team went from the initial brief to user acceptance testing for the site in just three weeks – remarkably fast, says Ralph Urmel.

“What was really surprising to me was how powerful Contentful’s content modeling is. Once you know what content models you need for the specific website or digital outlet, building it is not at all hard,” Ralph says. “You can then repurpose it across different platforms. The coffee outreach program is basically an entirely new website, but we already had the entire library of models available, and with just a few content tweaks, it fits our brand, yet feels so distinct.”

A modern platform that can scale

Contentful works with the systems that you need to run your business. For Alpro, Appnovation built a complete digital experience stack that includes Bynder for digital asset management, Paperform for building web forms, and Swiftype for search. The stack also includes Gatsby for fast performance, Netlify for automated deployment and React for building user interfaces.

“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.”

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