A year after Aldo’s first website redesign in nearly a decade, the shoe and accessories retailer is seeing its investment pay off.

Since revealing a revamped desktop and mobile site in April 2017, Aldo experienced a 10 percent increase in online conversions and a jump in mobile traffic to 75 percent, which now accounts for more than 50 percent of all digital transactions (up from 40 percent in 2017). For the digital overhaul — part of an ongoing multi-year partnership with digital agency Work & Co — the brand also worked to expand its customer base by opening up e-commerce sales to 10 countries outside of the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Aldo doesn’t disclose sales figures as a privately held company, but a spokesperson said e-commerce sales are increasing year-over-year and currently account for between 15 and 20 percent of total revenue.

The numbers are a direct result of an improved user experience on mobile and desktop. It’s table stakes: Not only are more customers shopping online and on their phones, but internal data found that 70 percent of shoppers are doing research online first before making purchases in store.

In order to successfully bring more consumers to the site, Aldo essentially started from scratch. It completely changed its backend technology, added more high-quality photos and imagery, and launched a simplified checkout system and new payment system designed to increase efficiency. The company also added a “buy online, pick up in store” feature and started offering free returns, policies that most retailers have done at this point in an effort to stay competitive.

Grégoire Baret, general manager of omnichannel experience at Aldo, said at its core, the new site was made with modern customer behavior in mind, and it plans to keep updating it. Now that the company has the nuts and bolts down for operating a high functioning e-commerce platform, he said Aldo plans to focus on personalization by tailoring product recommendations to regional and local demographics using customer data.

“We have a lot of things we’re working on to make it more personal, more local. We’re doing everything we can do to better connect the store with the consumer, and adapting the way we display products and stories depending on where you are,” he said.

Part of increasing its regional approach will include a continued focus on integrating user-generated content and social media onto the site. Since the relaunch, the brand has continued to focus on featuring dynamic imagery and social media content that provides a more aesthetically pleasing site, said Rachel Bogan, partner at Work & Co, the digital agency that worked on the project.

“The thing about shoes is you’re selling shoes and not a whole look, but customers are looking for exactly what this product looks like in context, and want to know how you stylize this product and how are other people styling,” she said.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 2.38.24 PM

Aldo’s homepage, with includes high-quality video content featuring new products

Much like its mall brand peers, Aldo has looked to amplify its digital presence in order to bolster sales and prevent slumps, in the wake of steep declines in brick-and-mortar foot traffic. Bogan said Aldo’s redesign had been a long time coming. Aldo first attempted to redesign the site several years back but wasn’t able to get the project off the ground until it partnered with Work & Co in late 2015. Part of why her team’s approach worked is that it was mindful of the challenges of turning a mall brand retailer on its head, she said.

“Taking a traditional company and doing something new, particularly when it’s so sales driven, can be risky,” she said. “To come in with a fully articulated solution is probably not smart. Instead, it’s better to workshop with them.”

Though he didn’t provide specifics, Baret said Aldo’s enhanced technology is increasing foot traffic and in-store sales, as well. As a result, efforts have been focused on improving customer service both from the perspective of having a more streamlined web presence as well as aiding sales associates with in-store technology.

“Everything we do with technology is to have a better connection with humans,” Baret said. “The way we use this connected technology is focused on spending time with the consumer and giving them the right kind of advice. Even in moments like the checkout process, we really work a lot to make sure we were injecting our human touch.”