Southern Tide: Moving away from over-complicated

About Our Partner

Southern Tide is an southern-based clothing brand focused on American lifestyle. Founded in 2006, by Allen Stephenson, a University of South Carolina dropout, Southern Tide was built on the determination of one young entrepreneur. Since its start 13 years ago, Southern Tide has rooted itself in southern charm, operating by the saying, “the south is a state of mind.” Today, the brand is carried in over 850 specialty retailers, along with running a successful eCommerce store.  

Project Details

  • Replatform to Shopify Plus
  • Planning On Site
  • Responsive Web Design & Development
  • Data Migration
  • Multi-Warehouse Integration
  • Store Locator Design and Installation
  • Custom ERP Integration w/ Custom Tracking Number & Order Status Import
  • Custom Military Discount App

Project Story

On Site and In Person

Onsite visits are a pivotal part of how we interact with clients at Gauge. It gives us the opportunity to see the client and their products in their environment, along with how the day to day operations go. It helps develop the roots of the healthy relationship we are looking to grow with our partners. For this project, our team traveled to Greenville, SC to visit the Southern Tide headquarters. We met with Allen and his team first hand, and had the opportunity to talk collaboratively about the goals and objectives that the brand had moving forward.

Here, we started drafting a site map and discussing content to get a clear understanding of their needs. This led to deeper discussions about some of the complex challenges that Southern Tide had faced in the past. We have learned through these onsite visits, the challenges our partners are looking to overcome, and instill in them the confidence that we can guide them. With Southern Tide, we walked away with a greater knowledge of their brand, where they wanted to go, and ensured their team that we were ready to take on the challenges.


Removing Complexity & Cost

Southern Tide wanted to simplify their store, making it easier for their internal team to move quickly without involving a large amount of development. With this in mind, our team recommended a replatform to Shopify plus–which would allow them to create a secure, fast, and scalable eCommerce experience that served both their clients and their internal team.

In addition to an improved website experience, Southern Tide was also looking to reduce their costs. Shopify Plus was able to provide them with the cost savings they were looking for without sacrificing too much functionality, making it a perfect balance of ease and reduced cost.

As the project began,  we worked closely with their team to make sure that they accomplished the goals that they set forth to do:

  1. Replatform from Magento Enterprise to secure, fast, and scalable Shopify Plus eCommerce platform.
  2. Reduce the ongoing operating costs associated with the website.
  3. Allow the Southern Tide team to do more on the site without the aid of a developer.


Design with Purpose

Before our onsite meeting, Southern Tide surveyed their internal team, asking them what issues they encountered with the current site and what frustrations they had with its functionality. Through this, they were able to diagnose those issues and relay them to us when it came to design conversations. This allowed for our team to have a solid grasp of the problems they faced and how we could solve them.

One of these issues was customer service, in that customers were not able to find the answers they were looking for on the site, hence their team spent hours on the phone directing those customers. We suggested that a new customer service experience be created for the site, one that allowed them to find product information more effectively, while also implementing improvements to the “FAQ” and “Contact Us” pages. This optimized the customer service experience, giving their team more time to focus on bigger issues, while also empowering the customer to get the information they needed more efficiently.

Another element of design that Southern Tide wanted to address was image quality and size. As a premium retail brand, they wanted to ensure that customers saw the detail of their products in the largest imagery. Upon further research, we came to discover that most Southern Tide customers were not interacting with their site on the larger devices that the team was using, in fact, most users were on mobile devices when they explored products. These large images would overwhelm the page, leaving customers confused and lost amongst products. We suggested a smaller image with a zoom feature, that allowed viewers to see both the whole product and a more detailed up-close view of the quality of that particular product.  


Integrating Complex Systems

As most agencies know, integrating systems can be a tough task, and with Southern Tide we wanted to ensure that their ERP system integrated with Shopify plus well. It was imperative that we created an integration that allowed data to flow back and forth from the eCommerce store to the ERP, so we created a custom setup that allowed their systems to share information via flat file import/export.

In the same vein, we identified challenges with their third party logistics operations. Using a plan that involved synchronizing their order data from Shopify plus, along with their third party provider, information could be shared between the two entities, allowing things like tracking and stock updates to be bounced back and forth. It was essential for Southern Tide to have updated inventory information from other shipping locations. Using a Shopify feature called Location Based Inventory, their team was able to track inventory from a variety of locations, ensuring that their information was always up to date. Overall, the integration was a success, which allowed the Southern Tide warehouse staff to operate fully without interruption.   


Store Locator

Accessibility was something that was important for Southern Tide. They wanted their customers to have access to their products at the closest store location to them. Through the use of a Store Locator app with some customization from our front-end development team, we were able to deliver the store locator experience to their customers. This application allowed for customers to view the closest Southern Tide retailer in their area, along with delivering them the store name, phone number, and address. Further, it also allowed for customers to filter products under gender and type of retailer.  Upon its integration, customers immediately began to utilize it, giving them easier access to Southern Tide products in their local area.


Data Migration

Data migration can be a challenging part of a new site build, but at Gauge we have a team of developers experienced in this, and their processes and strategies allow for data migration to run smoothly. With Southern Tide, we had to move thousands of SKUs, in over one hundred categories, from their Magento store to Shopify Plus.

This was done in phases, the first of which was a initial data import that gave us information to work with during development. In the second phase, we conducted a another data import before launch, to ensure that all present data was up to date. By launch, over 350,000 historical order records were imported successfully.


Employee Pricing

Southern Tide values their employees and they show it by offering merchandise to them at a discounted rate. Before moving to Shopify, they used a multi-tier pricing approach, that was integrated into their Magento platform. When Southern Tide switched to Shopify Plus, it was important for them to continue offering these discounts to their employees moving forward. In lieu of this, our team created a wholesale sales channel on their Shopify platform that allowed both special pricing and custom shipping methods, which is identified when a customer is tagged as an employee and is given the option to “pick up at location” or free shipping.


Military Discount Verification

As an American apparel brand, Southern Tide expressed to us the importance of offering discounts to those who have served in the military, and wanted to make sure that this was offered on their new Shopify Plus platform. To accomplish this, we created a custom application that verifies prices via discount service. When a service member qualifies for a discount, the tag is added to that customer and a script is applied to allow the discount. This allowed their brand to continue honoring veterans and it created a clean and simple user experience for customers.

Key Results

This project covered a wide spectrum of tasks that varied in difficulty, but our team, in collaboration with Southern Tide, honed in to focus on what was important for their business. After fully migrating data to their new Shopify Plus platform, we made design modifications that improved the user experience, successfully integrated their ERP system, and delivered a site that is highly functional and easy to use. Overall our partnership with Southern Tide was successful and their team continues to see that success manifested in their sales.

Since launch Southern Tide has seen:

  • 18% increase in traffic
  • 21% increase in new visitors
  • 7% increase in revenue
  • 1.8% increase in conversion rate
  • 3.3% increase in average order value