A brand with the ambition to be the world’s best cycling clothing company.
Rapha has come a long way since 2004. Today it boasts comfortable cycling garments that fit performance needs and style desires.
Besides clothing and equipment, Rapha went on to build one of the world’s largest cycling communities, the Rapha Cycling Club, which consists of around 20,000 cyclists.
The club is part rec society and part loyalty program, channeled through its mobile app. Within the app, members get early access to new products, discounted coffee, and entry into cycling events.
Then the pandemic put a holt to many social gatherings and Rapha saw an opportunity to introduce editorial content as well as product listings on the app. This broader direction of travel resulted in designers beginning to build prototypes. Yet they soon realized that they were missing a core solution.
Rapha was missing a content management system.
The company had a clear vision when it came to the capabilities that it was after. “We were looking for ease of use by content and development teams,” said Tom Hutchinson, the head of mobile at Rapha, “global reach to serve our members with minimal latency, an app ecosystem to streamline integrations and the ability to build our own integrations.”
What it soon found was the CMS platform Contentful.
Its tight-knit development team began building content models and integrating them into its cycling club app. It took just 10 weeks to push it live.
The results included growth in almost every area of user engagement. They saw greater numbers of new users, greater numbers of returning users and longer browsing sessions.
Towards a flexible architecture
The platform received big success early on with its extensibility and integration capabilities. As such, Rapha is currently implementing its ecommerce website to Contentful, replacing its older legacy platform that was considered costly, high-maintenance, and inflexible.
“We’d like to build out a modular system for our pages, which allows teams to mix and match components based on a number of factors,” said Ben Bodien, technology director at Rapha. “Editors can craft pages on their own to a certain extent, while developers will get a consistent, testable and structured UI system that doesn’t balloon when we want to configure a new layout.”
Today, Rapha devs are putting more hours into planning and executing content models to support greater user-friendliness on the site. “We’ve run two different wings of our commerce business quite separately,” added Ben, “online and offline. “Contentful will become a single resource that feeds content to both of those channels, so we don’t have to optimize and serve content in these spaces separately.”
The replatforming of its website is set to link Contentful up with the brand’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product information management (PIM) systems through GraphQL.
Next up, their dev team will integrate the CMS with its already established tools like Google Analytics, Optimizely, and Exponea. The good news for Rapha is that many of these tools are already part of the app marketplace of Contentful, making integration easier.
The ultimate aim is to create an extension that pulls SKUs and product details from other content stored in the ERP and PIM, which would boost productivity and suppress the likelihood of errors.
“We have a bespoke internal platform that hosts data on our rides and events,” added Tom. “When we introduced Contentful, we built an app that lets users pull data from that platform into a content type. From there, rides can be featured in the Highlights of our mobile app – which is really nice.”
As soon as the website launches, the brand will move on and seek out more improvements further down the road, with Contentful at the core.