As a strategy to strengthen brand loyalty and win over a broader section of consumers, sportswear brands have been looking to supplement their products with branching out into cultivating a certain lifestyle, as well as building hubs of community where users can find advice and expertise.
In this spirit, one of the leading sports equipment brands in the world, ASICS, which is known for its quality sports and athletic shoes, wanted to create an app for marathon runners.
ASICS runs its ecommerce site on Salesforce Commerce Cloud and took in 86% more online sales throughout 2020 compared to the year before. Building on this, they wanted to create a portal for runners where they could find professional tips and guidance about running a marathon.
In order to do this, they had a few requirements that had to be hit in order for an app to be successful. These were:
- A system where mobile app development is easy
- The ability to support the development of custom content models
- A simple way of collaborating with clients via content
The app was envisioned to give useful tips and key logistical information, based on its cooperation with researchers, athletes, and coaches, in the lead up to, during and after a race. Throughout the development stage, it ran into some challenges.
The lead up
ASICS had to communicate and coordinate with a host of people from organizational committees and representatives to sort out all the logistics. They also needed to tie together separate departments to incorporate all the nutritional advice, checklists, and fitness tips that were going to be demonstrated in the app first.
In short: a lot to do. Yet with the deadline fast approaching, and with inevitable logistical changes, updates, and revisions, something had to give. “Initially, we managed this workflow with emails and spreadsheets,” said Paul Baron, who worked on the app. “But as the number of apps and supported platforms grew, we realized that production flow needed to be upgraded.”
They wanted to move to a robust and flexible platform where managing content is simplified. Up stepped Contentful.
“Contentful matched all our criteria and we found working with the system to be very straightforward,” added Paul. “But where Contentful really surpassed our expectations was when our client team at ASICS started using it and got up to speed in no time.”
Centralizing content was central to the idea, because they had data from all sorts of places such as geo-tagged data, textual information, images, videos. The conclusion that they came to was that open-source options like Drupal and WordPress would have been good but the risk of hacking was simply too high a price.
“Replicating our app’s complex content model in Contentful was a crucial test to check how flexible and scalable the platform was,” said Paul. “In the end, we were done with content mapping in just a few days and I was amazed by how easy it was to go back and modify the model whenever we needed to streamline a certain section.”
Once they defined their custom content model, Contentful provided them with built-in validation options, which in turn notified content creators about recommendations like permitted attachment types and entry length.
“Validating content entries saved us a good chunk of time simply by alerting content editors on the spot to problems with their submissions,” said Paul.
Once implemented the newly-launched app already provided ASICS with a number of noteworthy results, which included:
- Great flexibility in how they define their content structure
- Mobile development infrastructure that is out of the box
- The ability to collaborate in-app content through a centralized system
Once the app was launched in the Apple’s App Store and Google Play, they didn’t just sit back and put their feet up. Working for ASICS is not a sprint but a marathon; it’s all about the long term. “Given how successful ASICS is at engaging with marathon runners, we expect to double the number of races supported by the Marathon Navigator in the foreseeable future,” added Paul. And this means knowing when to add content, update previous content, and reuse other content – and to be done all quickly.
Contentful has an automated feature that allows users to duplicate content for it to be used across platforms, so that content doesn’t need to be manually duplicated. Such time-saving capabilities on the content side are mirrored in the development capabilities. Contentful’s Content Delivery API means that the dev cycle is hugely reduced. “We can now build apps at least 2-3 times faster than before! All the while avoiding technical debt and allowing our client to directly manage and update the content,” said Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko, who also worked on the app development.