Janome is one of the world's largest manufacturers of sewing machines. Its mission is to produce machines that inspire creativity and innovation, but are simple to use. The company has divisions all over the world; in America, the company is headquartered in Mahwah, N.J.
Janome wanted to overhaul its website--not just to make it easier to use, but also to make it more appealing to a younger generation of sewers inspired by creations they see on such sites as Pinterest and Etsy.
Vendor of Choice: Episerver
Episerver provides content management software and ecommerce technology. It has offices across the globe; its U.S. headquarters is in Nashua, N.H.
THE PROBLEM IN-DEPTH
Janome was founded in Japan in 1921, but America is its largest subsidiary. Therefore, Janome America is sort of the "proving grounds for everything on the marketing side," says Michael Seminara, marketing manager for Janome America. "Everything we put out then goes global."
When executives at Janome--which has been on the web since the 1990s--decided to relaunch the company websites, the American version of the site was chosen as the first one to be redone. Subsidiaries in other countries would follow suit once it was successfully up and running. When Seminara was hired in February 2014, he was immediately charged with spearheading the relaunch.
"We needed a way to show off the beauty of our products," Seminara says of the relaunch. Simply put, the previous site wasn't getting the job done, Seminara states. As recently as 2013, he says, the site was "really static," and it "took forever [for users] to find things." Another big drawback? There were no ecommerce capabilities.
By making the site more user-friendly and more comprehensive, the needs of the customer would be better served. A new customer, Seminara says, wants to spend half an hour researching online "and find out everything they can find out before they make a purchase, so we had to make sure all that content was there, nice and easy for people to get."
Another goal Janome had for the new website was to capture younger customers. In addition to integrating social media into the site-which hadn't been done before-Seminara says Janome wanted to invite "inspiring artisans to come in and make projects for us, and attract that younger audience. A 35-year-old doesn't get inspired by something a 70-year-old makes or likes. But a 70-year-old does get inspired by something a 35-year-old makes."
Seminara says Episerver was one of two vendors Janome considered for the site's relaunch. Janome looked at the other companies the vendors had worked with. The fact that Episerver powers the website for the appliance manufacturing giant Electrolux helped tip the scales in its favor. "They're a major player in their space, and that's what we are," Seminara says.
Seminara says that when he started with Janome in February 2014, the company was finalizing its deal with Episerver, and development on the new site began that month. Bob Egner, VP of product management and marketing for Episerver, says his company collaborated with website design company iMedia, which did the work on the design and implementation of the site. "We had, through the combination of the Episerver team and the iMedia team, all the right resources to help with the support and strategy [Seminara] had in mind," Egner says.
"What we've done is built a lot of technology that makes it easy to create ... relevant experiences [and] user-generated content that's inspirational," he adds.
Egner says Episerver software is built on a Microsoft .Net stack, but adds that the "more important set of functionality we've put together in the Episerver platform" is a focus on usability. "The design objective we have internally is to make publishing a website as easy as posting your update on Facebook," he says. "Making it easier to use is just so refreshing to our customers."
With a company like Janome, Egner says, the development process starts by mapping out the customer journey-which is what the customer arriving at the site should be able to achieve. Once that's done, "you can start to build the strategy around the experiences that you want to support," Egner says-and then the design effort begins. This is followed by content development, coding, loading the content into the system, and then an extensive test cycle to make sure "everything is working smooth [and] the system is resilient and ready to go when it starts getting hit with the additional traffic that's expected to come in," Egner says.
The new site was launched in November 2014. This was in time for the holiday shopping season, but it also provided plenty of time for the site to be out there before February-a crucial month, as that's when Janome typically launches new machines. "We definitely knew that the majority of the new traffic was going to happen in February 2015," Seminara says.
Episerver has also helped Janome roll out personalization tools on its site. For example, Seminara says, when a new customer buys a Janome machine and registers it on the website, he or she will be given suggestions for accessories and projects specific to that machine.