When Alex Babich and Danielle Atkins first launched Kulani Kinis out of their garage in 2015, they had a simple goal for the business: make enough side income to go on vacation to Hawaii. “Neither of us had any fashion experience”, Alex admits. But their Instagram-ready swimwear struck a chord with beach-goers looking for affordable luxury — and the pair soon found themselves leading a movement.
Kulani is Hawaiian for “like paradise", and Kulani Kinis believes that every woman deserves their own piece of paradise. To help spread that message, Alex and Danielle needed a little help from an agency that understood eCommerce and could set them up with a future-proofed online store that would give them an edge in a crowded market.
High-quality swimwear that doesn’t break the bank isn’t easy to find, and this is where Kulani Kinis was determined to set itself apart. Each of the brand’s bikini sets costs under $100, and customers consistently describe the swimwear as the most comfortable they’ve ever worn. And while Kulani may have started from humble beginnings, it wasn’t long before they caught the attention of major retailers who saw the brand’s potential.
“We just started growing, and we've had this crazy ride… The day we launched with Forever 21, traffic tripled or quadrupled, and never went back down.”
While retailers like Forever 21, ASOS, and Ron Jon Surf Shop provided the break Alex and Danielle needed to get their name out, they also became victims of their own success. The surge in popularity meant more and more customers were coming directly to the Kulani website, and the outdated online store couldn’t deliver the kind of high-quality user experience that the pair wanted to provide.
“Wholesale is a very problematic business in some ways, since you don’t control your experience with the customer. It’s very much in someone else’s hands… We wanted to make sure that everyone who comes into our universe has a really positive journey.”
It was clear that they needed to transform their online channel, but a pretty website alone wouldn’t be enough. Alex needed an experienced partner that could help shift the perception of the Kulani Kinis brand from a niche startup to a major competitor in the women’s swimwear space.
Kulani soon found their ideal match in Parkfield. With scores of Shopify migrations under our belt, we were a partner that could respond quickly to the brand’s rapid growth, while also meshing well with Alex’s hands-on approach to his business.
“I just want to understand how the website works. I can talk through the code and I can give my input straight away. I often find it leads to a more efficient result because you're not going back and forth… A lot of agencies I've talked to don't want to do that kind of stuff, maybe because they aren't as talented as they say they are.
”Working alongside Alex, we performed a deep dive into the company’s data to find out what really makes Kulani and its customers tick. First and foremost, we discovered that the brand’s core demographic shops primarily on mobile. With that in mind, we designed the new online store with a mobile-first approach, deploying lightweight pages that load in seconds.
The data also showed that Kulani’s most requested information tool was the size guide. To better serve that demand, we designed a style-specific size guide that decreased support inquiries and boosted sales performance. What’s more, to better cater to international shoppers, we created a multi-site solution that funnels customers into the appropriate website based on their location.
eCommerce sites live and die by first impressions, so for the final touch, we worked with Kulani to add dynamic videos of many of their products to their product pages. These videos boost the brand's “wow factor” and instantly set them apart from other swimwear labels.
According to Alex, Parkfield’s work for Kulani has been a resounding success. International sales on the new dedicated websites have seen a 60% increase, while site speed has improved by 43%. Conversion rates hover around 4%, with 48% of Kulani customers going on to make repeat purchases. Both are stellar measures for any ecommerce business, let alone in a market as competitive as swimwear.
“Swimwear is a very intimate product to buy on the internet… So having a high conversion rate really speaks to the user experience.”
Even more impressively, Kulani has achieved all this without spending a cent on advertising.
The Shopify migration was only the beginning though. Since the initial project, Parkfield has become a trusted part of the Kulani family, and an invaluable resource. With us dedicated to executing new opportunities and delivering further UX improvements, Kulani Kinis has been able to serve a growing customer base without scaling up its lean, hands-on team of just ten people.
“I’ve had plenty of other agencies in Australia reach out wanting to do work with us, but I keep going back to Parkfield just because I really enjoy working with them.”
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