So sprintet Asphaltgold mit Shopify-Plus-Shop und Smartphone-App in neue Ziellinien
Mittwoch, 15. März 2023
Latori GmbH

How Asphaltgold sprints to new finish lines with Shopify Plus store and smartphone app

The sneaker industry has experienced a tremendous boom in recent years. One or two market observers rightly ask whether the peak has already been reached, or whether growth, collections, collaborations and the number of limited editions will cheerfully continue to increase. There is currently no answer to the question, but there are sneaker stores like Asphaltgold, which are on the road to success thanks to the sneaker hype.

Asphaltgold has been one of the best-known German sneaker retailers in the DACH region since 2008 and is actively on the scene with its online store and local store in Darmstadt. July 2021 saw the relaunch of the online store and the release of its own smartphone app for sneaker novelties and Raffles.

In collaboration with the agency OK Future, which developed the strategy, the design as well as the smartphone app, the Latori team created an online store with a mobile-first focus that convinces customers with a unique shopping experience. About a year later, the app was further developed to include a shopping feature. It was fully integrated with Shopify and now serves as an effective additional acquisition and sales channel for Asphaltgold.

In an interview, Larissa Dien, Head of UX & Tech Operations at Asphaltgold, and Christian Lortz, founder of OK Future, told us why the switch to Shopify Plus was so necessary and why the Raffle app was needed. Get answers to these questions and more exciting insights into the project in this article.

200.000Monthly Active App Users
52%Net Revenues
23%increased AOV

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Challenges: This is where the shoe pinched

1.Bot attacks during the draw for limited sneakers

In the online store Asphaltgold sells sneakers and streetwear. But unlike many other providers, the brand shines with some special features. For example, the store offers some very limited sneakers that are hard to find in other stores. These limited editions are offered for sale in so-called Raffles.

In the case of Asphaltgold, a raffle is a drawing for the right to purchase. So if a shoe is highly limited or extremely in demand, the lot decides who gets to purchase the shoe.

If the demand for a shoe is much higher than the stock actually available, there would be a risk of bots hitting it in a normal drop via the online store.

Asphaltgold therefore chose the route via Instagram at the time. So the brand announced in a post that a certain shoe would be available at a certain time and asked its community to comment on their shoe size below it. As a result, around 20,000 people posted comments, including numerous bots. The next step was to filter these out, select 30 users who had entered an available size and then write to them. After quite a lot of effort was already required for this, half of the people written to did not even respond when they received the payment requests. With an average of four Raffles per week and thousands of participants, this approach quickly proved ineffective for Asphaltgold.

2.Unstable Magento store with downtimes and maintenance effort

Another worst case was that the webshop could not withstand the many hits at the time of release. Asphaltgold has often had to deal with this problem in the past. Christian Lortz describes the consequences as follows:

"Once the release came, of course the traffic of the store increased and everything exploded - the online store collapsed."

- Christian Lortz, founder of OK Future

Besides the instability during traffic peaks, there were other reasons why Asphaltgold was dissatisfied with the Magento store. For one thing, it required a lot of effort for maintenance and hosting, and for another, it needed certain design elements in the store that were not possible with Magento. We'll get to that in more detail later.

Reading tip: Here you can find more case studies that the Latori team has already successfully implemented with Shopify Plus.

3.Mobile User Experience

The third important point for the sneaker brand from Darmstadt was mobile optimization. After all, over 80% of Asphaltgold customers access the store via mobile. Ways had to be found to optimize the user experience for mobile shopping and to find customers in their customer journey exactly where they are ready to make a purchase.

4.Unisex sneakers and filter options

Another challenge for Asphaltgold was filter options. These are so important because sneakers can often be unisex. So, for example, if a women's shoe is in stock in a larger size, it should also be displayed when the "men's" filter is selected. To overcome all these challenges, the Asphaltgold team worked closely with Latori. We present the solutions for the different tasks below.

Solutions: Store migration and a new mechanism for Raffles

1.The development of the Asphaltgold releases app

To deal with the bots at Raffles, Latori worked with OK Future to develop a release app that went live in March 2021. At that point, the brand was only using Shopify for the app and continued to run the Asphaltgold store through Magento 2.

The way the new app works is that for each Raffle, there is a 48h time slot in which all interested parties can participate. Once a winner has been drawn, he or she can buy the product. In this way, the company no longer collects thousands of Instagram comments, but real customers who are willing to pay.

To participate in a Raffle, the participant authorizes payment via credit card, Apple Pay or PayPal and the order is placed. On the Raffle Date, as many winners as there are quantities in stock are drawn automatically and randomly. After the draw, the purchase price is automatically collected from the winners and the shoe is shipped. The "losers" receive a notification that they unfortunately did not win this time and the pre-authorized amount is of course immediately released. Asphaltgold thus offers a secure and above all fair experience with its Raffle mechanism via the Releases app, no more server crashes and no more manual or personnel effort.

As mentioned at the beginning, the app was developed by the OK Future agency. It was designed to work on an iPhone or an Android device. Latori took care of the Shopify backend app. It serves as a counterpart to the smartphone app: To draw a winner, Asphaltgold simply goes into the Raffle backend app.

Reading tip: Read more about app development with Shopify here.

2.More stability and better infrastructure: Asphaltgold migrates to Shopify Plus

In order to avoid the high costs of maintenance and hosting as well as the many downtimes with Magento, Asphaltgold finally decided to migrate the online store in 2021. The choice of store system fell quite quickly on Shopify Plus:

"The main driver was the robustness of the overall infrastructure and scalability during traffic peaks."

- Christian Lortz, founder of OK Future

Shopify's stability was already tested in 2020 with a Black Friday promotion. For this, Asphaltgold was redirected from Magento 2 to Shopify for one day in order to sell a single T-shirt there. The brand deliberately did not want to participate in the discount battle, but instead made a statement against racism on this day with a specially designed shirt - and the Shopify store passed the test.

But the new e-commerce platform shines not only with its robustness, but also with its numerous UX features, which means that Asphaltgold no longer needs to access a third-party app when it comes to search and recommendations, for example. In addition, it was important to both Asphaltgold and the agency OK Future to be able to easily develop the store further in the future. In terms of functions, a quick check-out and filter options were particularly relevant. The latter are particularly important for Asphaltgold's concept, as the web store often displays products that cannot be purchased at this point in time or that have been discontinued in the meantime. These items should nevertheless be presented in order to inform the community about their imminent availability.

With the migration to Shopify Plus and the adjustments, the filter problem could thus also be solved. From now on, unisex sneakers will be made accessible to all, regardless of manufacturer specifications.

3.Mobile-first strategy and the evolution of Raffle into a shopping app

As already mentioned, a large part of Asphaltgold's clientele accesses the online store on mobile. The brand was therefore keen to make the online shopping experience even better and established a mobile-first strategy.

This included the new shopping feature in the app. About a year after the online store relaunch, in 2022, Asphaltgold decided to further develop the Raffle app. A store function was integrated and runs entirely on Shopify.

Asphaltgold can thus offer app users an easy way to buy sneakers and apparel directly and increase app downloads with the shopping feature. Via individual and personalized push notifications, app users can be alerted to releases that are of interest to them. These have proven to be an important acquisition tool.

Results: How the app and Shopify store are performing so far

The Asphaltgold brand is more than happy with its decision to offer a Raffle app, evolve it into a shopping app, and migrate to Shopify with the store. We'll take a look at how the two channels are performing so far below.

New Asphaltgold shopping app as additional sales and acquisition channel

Targeting existing customers, i.e. retention marketing, usually proves to be much more lucrative than acquiring new customers. Asphaltgold has also already discovered this:

"The buying behavior of our reactivated customers is immensely different from that of, anonymous Internet users. Not only are they more likely to buy, but they also spend more per order overall."

- Larissa Dien, Head of UX & Technical Operations at Asphaltgold

In lead generation, Asphaltgold also relies on the following strategy: In order to complete an order, all customers must register. This opens up new customer contacts, who can also be contacted again after a certain time by mail or push notification.

However, the app not only serves as a tool for reactivating existing customers, but also optimizes the shopper's shopping experience. This can be seen, among other things, in the ratings in the corresponding app stores: Shortly after its launch, the Asphaltgold app was already among the top 50 shopping apps.

Reading tip: By the way, you can find out how Latori developed a smartphone app for the quick commerce company GoTiger here.

From Magento 2 to Shopify Plus: What has changed since then?

Since joining Shopify Plus, Asphaltgold has not only had to worry less about maintenance, but has been able to significantly increase both conversion rates and customer satisfaction:

"According to surveys, our customers are more satisfied than average. Our check-out, the smooth customer journey and the digitized returns process are particularly convincing."

- Larissa Dien, Head of UX & Technical Operations at Asphaltgold

Check-out issues, incorrect availability displays, and numerous customer service inquiries are now a thing of the past. Since Asphaltgold started using Shopify Plus, the company says it has been able to save time, provide a better customer experience, and become more in control overall.

Reading tip: Get tips on redesigning your online store in this post.

Asphaltgold's future plans: further developments, expansion & Co.

Asphaltgold's goal is to continue to grow, at least across Europe. The brand sees the greatest potential in Europe, as they cannot sell to all countries in the world due to their manufacturers.

Initial successes can already be seen in neighboring countries such as France and the Netherlands. Here, market penetration is already advanced - other countries will follow. The Asphaltgold app is set to become the driving force in terms of customer acquisition and retention abroad.

Retention, loyalty and tracking are also on the agenda:

  • How can Asphaltgold connect with customers and show transparency in times of cookie death?

  • How can the company introduce and use segmentation and personalization based on this?

  • How can the brand best implement server side tracking?

The front end of the store should also be optimized at all times. Specifically, the aim is to improve and personalize the user experience. For this purpose, A/B testing will be increasingly carried out in the future.

Another topic that Asphaltgold would like to take a closer look at in the future is size advice. The current size advice app (Fitting Room) is to be integrated into the shopping app in order to better assist customers and provide a size recommendation tailored to the model. Business goals are also being pursued, such as keeping the returns rate low.

Asphaltgold also wants to position itself even more strongly in the area of sustainability in the future. Already in 2019, the brand integrated a product feature that provides information on whether a shoe is completely vegan, leather-free or made from mostly recycled materials.

Conclusion: This is how Latori and Asphaltgold work side by side

The coordination between Latori and Asphaltgold will continue to take place in weekly syncs, in which all current tickets will be discussed. If there is a need for coordination in between, all open questions are clarified in additional meetings. This ensures continuous further development.

"Latori allows us to work independently, supports us and doesn't make us dependent on them. They give us the tools and knowledge so we can do smaller things on our own."

- Larissa Dien, Head of UX & Technical Operations at Asphaltgold

We have been supporting Asphaltgold for several years now and are very proud of the cooperation and all implemented projects.

We are also happy to assist you with advice and support.

You also want to open a sneaker store, migrate to Shopify or need a suitable app for your online store? Contact our team today!

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