Grundéns fishing apparel company isn’t your typical eCommerce store. The Swedish brand has a 100-year history of providing gear directly to professionals and through wholesale channels. It wasn’t until recently that they branched out into direct-to-consumer sales.
And despite – or possibly because of – the recent coronavirus outbreak, business has been up, way up. We sat down (virtually, of course) with Brandon, Grundéns Global Web Manager, to hear all about the tech stack he’s put together.
Q. Tell us about the Grundéns brand.
The company was started by a fisherman in the early 1900s to make oilskins that kept other fishermen warm and dry. The company philosophy is that people who fish are stewards of the ocean, a responsibility that should be taken very seriously.
Q. What would you say the brand embodies?
For people who fish, it’s very much a lifestyle. It’s more than just a thing that people do — it’s born in them and is in their DNA. It becomes a defining characteristic. And for many folks who fish recreationally, it’s a powerful form of therapy.
Q. How did you end up working for a Swedish fishing apparel company?
In the early nineties, two local fishermen brothers in Washington became the master distributors for Grundéns in the US. They built Grundéns USA into a $24 million+ business. I was introduced to the company in 2007 as a contractor and my role until 2017 was to support growth and expansion in the USA. The two owners, Mike and David Jackson, had experience fishing the Bering Sea but needed help with the brand’s web experience.
Q. How did you become a permanent staffer?
In 2017, they decided they wanted to expand and brought me in-house full time as the Global Web Manager. It was really exciting because there was so much I wanted to do that I didn’t have the opportunity to do as a contractor. In the past few years, we’ve seen phenomenal growth as we’ve diversified the product offering from just commercial gear to recreational fishing gear and footwear.
Q. Why do you think so many people are buying fishing gear during the pandemic?
We’ve been growing, as have many others in the eCommerce industry, because of this pandemic. We’ve seen 30 to 40 percent growth in the past eight to ten weeks. I think for any outdoor brand, not just fishing, these are incredibly passionate people that absolutely love the outdoors. What we may be experiencing is folks feeling like they can’t wait to get back out there. They don’t want to wait one more second than necessary to get on the water.
Q. Tell us about your tech stack. Let’s start with WooCommerce.
Before moving to WooCommerce, I was on a couple of different platforms. The company’s needs, in the beginning, were very simple – we only had an online catalog catering to the North American commercial fishing market. In 2015, when we opened a direct-to-consumer offering, I introduced them to WooCommerce.
Q. Why did you choose WooCommerce?
At that point, the company wasn’t sure how to approach the direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel and didn’t want to make any huge investments. We went with WooCommerce because it was a very versatile platform that would allow us to scale. It also incorporated some of the functionality we liked in other DTC platforms, but was relatively inexpensive. Since then, WooCommerce has been a constant for us and has been performing very well.
I also like how well WooCommerce integrates with WordPress. The whole ecosystem works well. We can bring pieces of WooCommerce into the site content and vice versa. It’s just a really powerful tool and seems native to WordPress. It also plays well with so many other plugins.
Q. What are some of your favorite tools?
Yotpo, which is awesome for reviews. It’s a robust customer review platform that didn’t cost us a ton of money to onboard.
Klaviyo, a tool for email marketing. It’s not just an ERP (enterprise resource planning app), it almost has CRM functionality. It gives you the ability to make robust customer profiles and is great at segmentation to gauge open rates and enhance clicks. The conversion tracking is amazing as well. These two tools have really increased conversion and revenue, and have helped us gather invaluable data.
There’s also Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV, an ERP for finance, CRM, supply chain, etc. We implemented that in May 2017. The company was growing to the point where we needed more horsepower in the finance department. We have a wholesale channel that sells to brick and mortar and Amazon, along with direct to consumer channels that we utilize WooCommerce for. We built a connector for WooCommerce and NAV to talk to each other, so NAV reaches out to WooCommerce, grabs order details, and sends back stock details.
For new stores, I highly recommend ShipStation. We don’t use it currently, but it’s been invaluable in past projects. Fulfillment is a big struggle for many companies and ShipStation integrates with the site to automate and relieve a lot of the pain points.
W3 Total Cache is great for SEO U/X performance. It helped us really take our merchandising experience to the next level.
FacetWP is an advanced filtering and search plugin for WordPress and WooCommerce. Customers can search values like SPF numbers for shirts or a specific color swatch. It’s a great plugin for eCommerce stores that value extra flexibility.
InstantSearch is awesome for search and merchandising. I highly recommend this service for the insights as well as the speed of search results delivery.
Avalara automates all the tasks around taxes. We needed a solution we could take globally for calculating taxes and for the European VAT tax. Avalara collects and remits payments, which is important to us because we have a small finance team. It’s easy to use and offers seamless WooCommerce integration.
For a payment processor, Amazon Pay is its own offering. It basically just runs. From the user perspective, if you’re already logged into Amazon, it’s a two- or three-click checkout solution. One-third of our customers use it.
For internal communications, our director of IT set us up with Microsoft Teams. It’s been an integral part of how we work internally. But I also have external meetings all day long with every video conferencing platform out there, so my computer is inundated with updates for those all the time.
Q: What do you find valuable about WooCommerce?
Stepping back, I would say one of the most beneficial things I’ve experienced with WooCommerce is that it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to onboard third-party services, like payment processors and review platforms. Having access to premium extensions has saved us a lot of custom development time and resources.
Q. So do you fish?
I love the outdoors and hope and dream that I’ll be able to get out there more. I really want to get more into fly fishing. It’s such a therapeutic, cathartic thing. Most of the time, I’m generally sitting here in front of the computer, but I love it! I’m as passionate about technology as Grundéns is about fishing.