Kubota’s case study of launching PWA in mobile-first store

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Reactivating a brand after decades of dormancy is not an easy task but Kubota managed to return on the market with splendid results. Kubota tuned towards modern eCommerce trends, mobile-first and PWA included, to rollout the famous shoe brand back on the market with over 1000 orders in the first month. 

Let’s look closer at the technology and strategy behind the Kubota’s extraordinary comeback. 

It all started in 1994 when Dorota and Wiesław Michalski began to import high-quality slide sandals from China and founded Kubota brand. The economy in Poland was different back then, very soon Poles beloved these shoes and Kubota found its place deep in their hearts. Unfortunately, the growth of global shoe brands, like Nike and Adidas, pushed Kubota out of the market for many years. 

The new life of Kubota has begun a few years ago with the group of passionates from Łódź, who decided to reactivate Kubota brand.

An old brand with the modern, mobile-first approach to sales 

Although close to many hearts, the idea of reactivating Kubota brand was a risky idea. The old fans of Kubota’s slide sandals were a group not big enough to drive sales and keep the business constancy. The resurrected brand had to reach also new customers, young generations, glued to their smartphones. This direction aligned with Google’s data which proves that over 96% of search and over 40% of online transaction is done on mobile devices. And so the new sales channels had to answer their needs in the first instance.

Kubota set a goal of launching an eCommerce platform that:

  • answers mobile-first approach (especially in the contexts of mobile-first indexing introduced by Google)
  • ensures short page loading times, even at slower connections, that positively impacts Page Rank,
  • is universal for any system and allow to develop one code of the application for many operating systems (Android, iOS, Windows or macOS),
  • ensures speed and ease of online store pages updates,
  • ensures online store’s security by separating frontend from backend, which reduces the risk of complications in key processes when operating on the frontend
Patrick Friday, Head of Growth at Vue Storefront browsing the Kubota Store on his mobile device in Divante’s office
Patrick Friday, Head of Growth at Vue Storefront browsing the Kubota Store on his mobile device in Divante’s office

After the careful analysis of eCommerce platforms, Kubota decided to develop dedicated solution enhanced with the latest mobile-first technologies – Progressive Web Apps. This choice was dictated by the multiple weaknesses of SaaS eCommerce platforms on one hand and the massive advantages of PWAs on the other.

With the modern approach, Kubota indented to develop a fast and reliable online store with engaging UX, and in the end to achieve high conversion rates, increased ROI and CLV, and higher AOV (by adapting upselling techniques). 

Building PWA-based online store

Kubota entered the completely new implementation project. The overall works included the eCommerce’s design, development of the new architecture, and its integration with external systems at Kubota.

The goal was to implement a PWA-based online store and to reach it the company decided to leverage existing solutions: Magento 2 (eCommerce platform) as a backend and Vue Storefront (PWA solution) as a frontend. The whole implementation process was handled to e-com.house and New Fantastic agencies, with previous experience in PWA development.

“Our developers specialize in PWA and Vue.js development, with lots of coding with web technologies, editing applications even in offline mode and common code-base for all systems.”

Marta Wyglądała, e-com.house
Purchasing path at Kubota store

Before using Vue Storefront, developers ran tests against its performance, speed and PWA functionalities (like offline support, Home screen icon, capability customize UX on the frontend). The results outpaced expectations in terms of almost any aspect.  

“It has quickly come to our understanding that building our frontend with Vue Storefront technology will be the most scalable and money-saving option for our store’s future for at least a couple reasons: near-to-native experience and performance not requiring you to write a separate mobile app, Vue.js is a straightforward and easy-to-learn framework enabling to implement any frontend feature imaginable, seamless migration to another backend if needed.”

Marta Wyglądała, e-com.house

Creating an entirely new store was associated with taking multiple decisions related to the store’s architecture, supporting technologies and integrations. Working with PWA combined with Vue.js allowed for the flexible development of the Kubota’s eCommerce platform. Apart from Magento 2 and Vue Storefront, the new store bases on the inhouse servers, and WordPress’s imported objects used in static pages. In order to conduct effective online sales, the store was integrated with must-have techies for analysis, planning, sales, as well as, in and out data flow control. This included Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Merchant, and others like Google Shopping, Google Search Console, Facebook Pixel, Hotjar, XML generation, API integrations. 

The whole project was implemented with the Agile methodology which was easily adapted by Kubota and partnering agencies. Agile way of working ensured speed of development processes and the ability to adapt technology to various business needs faster than in the waterfall model.

View of product listing at Kubota Store

Shortlist of eCommerce development stages undertaken by Kubota: 

  1. Preparing a list of general business requirements for the store,
  2. Defining technical specifications and designing future architecture (incl. all required technologies and integrations with ERP responsible for warehouse planning and inventory management, production planning, customer relationship management, facilitation of accounting and financial processes, implementation of many payment methods and easy management of the product catalog),
  3. Setting up project management tools (Gitlab, Buddy Works, Slack)
  4. Purchase and configuration of servers,
  5. Magento, Vue Storefront and plugins installation and configuration 
  6. WordPress installation and configuration for static pages generation 
  7. Creating graphic content and subpages,
  8. Theme styling and organization of CSS, UI/UX improvements, testing orders, purchasing path and all UX elements,
  9. The rollout of the new store,
  10. Optimization processes and implementing additional functionalities.

Results that skyrockets traffic, SEO and sales

Kubota launched their new eCommerce platform in April 2019 and hit over 1000 orders of reactivated slide sandals in the first month. The resurrected brand awaken warm emotions among its old fans but also became the number one topic on the lips of retro fashion lovers. 

The Kubota’s PWA-based store, supported with the strong marketing and sales strategies, met all expectations. In comparison with the Shoplo online store launched as a proof of business concept a year earlier, Google Analytics noted y/y:

– 192% growth of daily visitors
– 5% more returning visitors
– 26% growth of average monthly visits

Above are the results of improved average loading times on mobile and desktop by 20-30% and presenting engaging users experience across all the purchase path.

Purchasing path at Kubota store

The Kubota online store has conversion rates at the level of 4.5% on desktop and 2.2% on mobile devices and observes CR increases on a weekly basis. 

The PWA implementation impacted positively also SEO results. Despite the strong competition with the Japanese machine manufacturer (also Kubota) the slide sandals brand observes y/y increases in the visibility of the keywords: 

  • July 2018/2019:  Top 3: + 53%, Top 10: + 5%, Top 50: + 260%,
  • August 2018/2019: Top 3: + 94%, Top 10: + 95%, Top 50: + 312%,
  • September 2018/2019:  Top 3: + 79%, Top 10: + 42%, Top 50: + 3629%.

The online store built within the mobile-first approach became an excellent base for multiple activities driven by Kubota. With the PWA potential customers can be seamlessly transferred from mobile channels like search or social media to transaction pages. And these, in case of Kubota, present a broad range of products, attractive website layout, good UX, modern IT technologies and user-friendly purchase path. 

All the above is boosted by the support of the new investors, expanding the product rage and consequent realization of sales strategy by Kubota’s team, which brought the impressive, colorful and inspiring brand back to life.

Discover the story of Kubota brand reactivation.

Learn more about mobile-first approach, PWA technology in eCommerce and Vue Storefront.

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Published October 9, 2019