Saadia Group struggled to manage the disparate technologies and siloed content that came with each new brand it acquired.
The company’s ecommerce platform lacked the desired orchestration features to move at speed, slowing brand refreshes and impacting profitability.
Publishing and editing new content required engineering support, limiting how responsive the company could be to marketplace competition and customer feedback.
A composable content platform has allowed Saadia Group to create a universal content model to speed up “digital refreshes” tied to new acquisitions.
An easy-to-use editorial interface enables Marketing and Product teams to create and edit content autonomously, improving efficiency and team relationships.
Extensibility features enable Saadia Group to easily connect ecommerce tools and add more up-and-coming technology, like generative AI apps.
“Around Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other big shopping events, we see brands wanting to change content more regularly — even daily. With composable content, they have the flexibility to do so whether it's pricing, a homepage promo banner, or anything in between.”
“We need tools that support reuse and are flexible because speed is really of utmost importance. We don’t have time to reinvent the wheel for each new brand we acquire.”
“With the rise of social media, customer engagement happens quickly and you need to be able to respond in near real-time. Contentful gives our teams the tools to do efficiently without waiting for IT to step in.”
Finding the perfect wardrobe staple isn’t easy. Somehow, it seems there’s always something off — be it size, color, or quality. So, when you finally find a brand that offers exactly what you’ve been searching for, it makes sense that you plan on being a customer for life.
Since 1996, Saadia Group has been working to ensure this is possible by acquiring distressed but deeply loved brands and giving them a digital refresh to reignite traffic and sales, ultimately extending a brand’s lifetime. With many brands in a state of loss at acquisition, this turnaround time really is money, and technical debt is an obstacle.
Each time the group acquires a new brand, it also acquires a collection of disparate technologies, siloed content, and disjointed operations. Managing these technologies was somewhat easy when the company was first founded, but as its brand portfolio grew beyond single digits, it became impossible to manage. For Saadia Group, the key to survival would be standardizing as much as possible to streamline and speed up content operations.
“We needed something flexible that would support reuse. We don’t have time to reinvent the wheel for each new brand we acquire,” Ravi Raparla, Vice President of Digital Products at Saadia Group, said.
The company found the Contentful Composable Content Platform to be vital for successfully managing its growing portfolio.
Finding the perfect technology fit
With standardization officially in style, the company decided to use Shopify to universally curate and manage content. In theory, this was a good option as most brands within its portfolio had been using the tool pre-acquisition. In practice, Shopify failed to deliver.
“With just Shopify, content creation and management was still cumbersome. The previewing capabilities were strong but it took a long time to actually publish content and teams struggled to collaborate with the platform,” Raparla shared. This realization led to an investigation of headless and composable technologies — both of which offered a decoupled approach to content creation and development that would hopefully speed up operations to increase agility by alleviating cross-functional interdependencies.
Contentful caught Raparla’s eye immediately. As one of the more longstanding solutions in the headless and composable categories, the platform offered solid customer support and boasted a large user base of successful companies. The real selling point came by way of extensibility to add powerful integrations (they didn’t want to leave Shopify behind entirely) and employ a composable content strategy. Composable content would enable Saadia Group to develop a universal content model for its ecommerce sites, enabling them to modernize and relaunch brands faster than ever before.
Partnering to pattern the perfect content model
After procuring the new tool, Raparla hired The Stable, an ecommerce and digital marketing agency to help build out its content model, develop content types, and eventually assist with migrating its first brand.
“For Saadia Group, we were challenged with building a content model comprehensive enough to account for the possible needs of each and every brand owned by the company. Ravi and I really had to look at the company from a holistic perspective instead of an individual perspective — which is really the spirit of composability,” Dan Hill, former Senior Vice President of Platform Engineering at The Stable, noted.
Hill and Raparla recognized that, at the core, most ecommerce sites share the same basic elements, or content types — banners, product carousels, product catalogs, and individual product pages. What differentiated these sites was the actual content populating those modules, be it text or images.
One content model, endless ways to style it
Once the content model was built, Rapala and Hill decided to complete a proof of concept by migrating a single brand — Fashion to Figure — to the new platform. The migration took less than three months, giving them plenty of time to test and make iterations prior to the biggest shopping day in the U.S., Black Friday. The day came and passed with customers experiencing no downtime as they browsed and bought.
The best part? Fashion to Figure’s Marketing team didn’t have to stay up until midnight to launch promotions on the new platform. Contentful’s scheduling capabilities gave them the tools to organize and map out all the content well in advance. According to Ravi, Contentful made for a “flawless” holiday season that year.
Following this success, Saadia Group decided to migrate one of its largest brands, New York & Company, to Contentful next. While both Fashion to Figure and New York & Company are built from the same content model and content type library, each has a very different look and feel as the Marketing teams behind each brand can customize their site to fit their unique brand guidelines — be it custom typography, colors, or imagery. They also have complete freedom in the layout of each page and what content types are used.
These sites are proof that a well-executed content model doesn’t result in “cloned” digital experiences. Instead, content models give digital teams the right amount of structure and guidance to move at speed and act with confidence in areas where they do have more creative freedom. For example, marketers have been able to bring Fashion to Figure’s online shopping experience to social media channels, putting the brand in front of more customers and encouraging engagement like never before.
Giving editors the right tools to fashion content fast
Outside of shrinking each brand’s digital footprint and expanding team creativity, Saadia Group has been able to speed up content operations and improve team relations with the new platform. Before Contentful, the Marketing and Product teams were reliant on the technical talents of engineers to publish or update existing content and product listings. As a somewhat small team with siloed content and sprawling tech stacks to wade through, they struggled to address these demands efficiently, much less balance them with other job responsibilities. With Contentful, the process has completely changed — and really sped up.
“With so much marketplace competition and customer engagement on social media, we need to be able to respond and make changes in near real-time. Contentful gives our teams the tools to do so without waiting for IT to step in,” Raparla added.
Today, most content deliverables are managed by nontechnical team members directly within Contentful. They’re able to easily edit and update content, build new pages, and add elements to pre-existing pages like product carousels, promotional banners, and more. And, regardless of who is creating or editing content, the experience has a cohesive, pre-defined look and layout, which the individual doesn’t have to worry about messing up. The only time engineering gets pulled in is when changes to a content model need to be made.
Trending projects, future plans
Saadia Group has ambitious plans for its next big Contentful migration. It plans to move the famed Lord & Taylor to the platform. Lifting and shifting what was once the U.S.’s largest department store presents a new, but exciting, challenge for the brand. Unlike Fashion to Figure and New York & Company, Lord & Taylor sells more than its own label — it sells hundreds of other brands — which means Saadia Group and The Stable will have to develop additional content types and modify its existing content model to accommodate them.
Continuing to migrate its smaller brands to the platform is another project that will run in the background. And, because Saadia Group is set on bringing brands up to modern digital standards, the company would be amiss to ignore rising ecommerce trends and AI. According to Reparla, the engineering team is already beginning to consider how they can leverage the Contentful Marketplace to integrate shoppable videos to engage more customers and generative AI apps to speed up certain steps of the content creation process, like drafting product descriptions.
“Contentful has given us a framework to build and innovate on to deliver the caliber of digital experience that our customers expect right now and further down the road,” Raparla said.