Building Indestructible Gear for Over 20 Years
Chrome Industries was established in 1995 with a Juki sewing machine, a few yards of military grade fabric and seat-belt buckles cut out of old cars. Over the last 20 years, Chrome has become a global manufacturer of messenger bags, backpacks, urban lifestyle apparel, and footwear known for making meticulously crafted, durable gear made for living the city.
Chrome engaged us to help them take that same passion for innovation and craftsmanship, and re-think the way their fans experience and engage with their brand through a global eCommerce strategy and online retail store that would help expand their brand and appeal to a new global audience.
Defining our eCommerce Strategy and Opportunities
In order for both teams to get aligned, we headed north to Portland and San Francisco to get a closer look at their brand culture and business operations. Throughout our collaborative 3-day brand strategy workshop, our goal was to uncover the brand personality, business logistics, explore the user journey, and visualize how we could evolve the brand's style, design direction, and eCommerce experience.
Tapping Into A New Audience Without Losing Trust of Our Core
For over two decades, Chrome has helped shape urban bike culture through their commitment to make useful and durable gear for professional messengers, fixed freestyle riders, and urban commuters.
In order to expand their market without losing their core sense of commuter culture, we identified a new target audience within a large group of younger consumers who share similar values and interests. This ideal urban creative lives and works in the city - he’s a tastemaker and curator of quality goods, aligns with a brand that’s culturally relevant, and seeks to explore new ways to live the city.
We used the bike messenger and the urban creative as the foundation for our designs and determined that the Chrome site experience should focus on providing relevant content and products that inspire them to explore. We used this contextualized and curated approach to inform our digital strategy and bring the eCommerce experience to life.
A Carefully Curated and Highly Contextualized Online Shopping Experience
The brand is utilitarian at heart and our digital experience needed to reflect Chrome’s mission to provide simple, functional gear built to the adapting needs and unpredictable nature of city life. We focused on surfacing content as it relates to users intent; if someone is looking for a bag, we were able to surface bags by activity. This type of content not only encouraged users to discover, but pulled them a step closer to finding the right bag for their needs.
Embracing Discovery and Focusing on Intent
Many people knew the brand as a messenger bag company - but our goal was to build awareness around the broad assortment of bags, footwear, apparel, and accessories that truly make Chrome a lifestyle brand. To establish this positioning, we surfaced the mission statement on the homepage and presented users with quick access to top level product categories.
A Category Navigation Structure Built for Exploration
The core Chrome shopper is typically on-the-go, using various methods to explore brands online including organic search and social, as well as advertising and editorial content. With this in mind, we knew that users may not enter the site solely through the homepage. We established a category navigation structure that quickly introduces users to Chrome’s brand and wide product offering.
Streamlining the Path to Purchase
For the existing users that were familiar with Chrome products, we wanted to create a simple solution that removed the obtrusiveness of being able to quickly shop for a product. On the product category pages, we got rid of the dreaded quick shop lightbox and replaced it with a simple three-step purchase process. Users can simply hover over the product and color they want, add a product to their cart and select their size without having to view the entire product detail page.
Building a Community with Rich Product Stories
With over two decades of experience making products for the urban commuter, we wanted to leverage this rich heritage and combine brand stories with products to give fans a deeper connection with to the Chrome brand. We created a series of elevated brand story pages that were used to showcase the rich history of chrome, new collections, and brand ambassadors.
With new collections, seasonal offerings, and sales, each unique to different cities, the internal team at Chrome needed a solution to frequently update and manage pages across the site. To solve for this, we built the entire site off of a modular framework that utilizes a system of components. This gave their team the ability to create custom landing pages with unique product offerings, all through a custom built Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Guiding Users to Products They Love Through Chrome City HUB’s
What makes Chrome so unique is their dedicated fan following across 8 major cities. At each one of these city HUB’s, there’s a unique brick and mortar store with unique products built specifically for that lifestyle. We focused on re-creating these HUB’s online, allowing users to shop for products based on location, and explore the rich story behind each HUB.