The Dutch have been well-known as a seafaring folk for centuries, who had colonies abroad early on and actively traded with a whole range of different countries spread all over the world. It can quite rightly be claimed that the penchant for everything nautical is still in the blood of many Dutch people today. It was probably this spirit that prompted the Dutch sail maker Douwe Gaastra from the Dutch town of Sneek, which is heavily influenced by water and shipping, to usher in the turn of an era in 1897: the company had specialised in making sails for 80 years until one day it expanded its range to sports wear. The fashion label Gaastra was born and still bears the silhouette of Sneek’s water gate in its trademark today.

Nowadays Gaastra stands for pleasantly casual maritime fashion and besides jackets, shoes and shirts for men, women and children it also offers matching bags and accessories for the perfect outfit. Today Gaastra combines the nautical lifestyle back then at the end of the 19th century with innovative functionality and enjoys worldwide recognition among sailing athletes and lovers of maritime fashion thanks to its decades of experience.

A new tide with Shopware 5

Gaastra planned the next turn of an era for 2015 in the form of a new online shop concept. In doing so Gaastra wanted to give up its previously used own development based on the Microsoft .NET framework and switch to an adaptable standard system instead. It quickly emerged that this was to be Shopware following recommendations from former employees and tests by the management board and all the departments involved at the company. As Shopware 5 offered all the possibilities to meet the fashion label’s requirements. In addition, the new function “Advanced Promotion Suite” was also developed in collaboration between Shopware and Gaastra, which was used exclusively by Gaastra at the start and has now recently become available in the Shopware Community Store as a Shopware premium plugin.

Gaastra specifically had the request of presenting its own brand appropriately. “Our old shop was already pretty outdated. The relaunch was a great opportunity to rethink everything again and make new choices. We want to provide our customers with an emotional shopping experience with the new shop with great emotional visual imagery and modern design and have an optimised appearance for various end devices,” emphasises Nico Heer, Managing Director of ESail GmbH, at the same time explaining the reasons for replacing their own system.

Complexity due to lots of language shops

Shopware 5 is absolutely perfect for Gaastra’s specifications. Gaastra has implemented the emotional brand worlds based on different storytelling shopping themes. Sub-shops were being used for internationalisation and the website in different languages. As a result, one language version had been created for Germany, the Netherlands, Flemish-speaking Belgium, France, French-speaking Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and English-speaking countries. “One complexity of the project was that we had to connect different logistics partners such as DHL, PostNL or UPS to each language shop. This could be mapped without any difficulties though,” remembers Nico Heer. There are also different preferred methods of payment in every country that have to be tailored to the respective language shops. These include, for example credit card payment, Paypal, Billpay, instant bank transfer, Afterpay, iDeal or Mr.Cash.

Implementing the whole Gaastra project took nine months in total but the effort was worth it. The new shop received so much positive feedback shortly after the launch that it was able to win the renowned annual Shop Usability Award organised by Shoplupe GmbH in the “Fashion” category.

Pilot customer for “Advanced Promotion Suite”

Gaastra didn’t just place value right from the start on being a strong brand but also on strong marketing. That is why sophisticated promotion functions were to be integrated to efficiently promote sales. The answer to this challenge was a plugin called “Advanced Promotion Suite”, which had three main functions alongside others: one very extensive functionality allows shop operators to create so-called “2+1” promotions. In its framework all the possible sales promotions can be mapped, for example “Buy 3 pay for 2”, “Buy 5 pay for 4” and so on. In addition, the plugin includes a discount feature which shop operators can use to give price discounts off items in the shop. The discounts are either given in percentage or absolute amounts, depending on what the shop operator wants. Retailers can also give away free items for a purchase. For example, when the customer buys a certain product they get another one free.

According to Nico Heer it is not a coincidence that Gaastra in particular had these comprehensive promotion requirements: “Gaastra has its roots in the Netherlands. 2+1 promotions or so-called order starter promotions where a free item is offered with a purchase have been well established in retail there for a long time. It therefore went without saying that we wanted to also integrate these functions in the online shop.”

In the end the “Advanced Promotion Suite” turned into an effective premium plugin, which is available now in the Shopware Community Store.

All in all, the Gaastra project resulted in an attractive “seaworthy” shop with which the fashion label can set sail for a successful future in online retail.