What comes after Magento 1? For our new client ARMEDANGELS, the answer is Shopware 6!
In this interview, Kristof Kruse, Webshop System Owner at ARMEDANGELS, tells us how the eco & fair fashion label’s concept unites sustainability and e-commerce, and what prompted them to migrate from Magento 1.9 to Shopware 6.
How it all started
In January 2007, two guys from Cologne decided to revolutionise the fashion industry.
Driven by their passion for great design and shocked by the ills of the textile industry, they made a decision: They wanted to make a change, to do something that they themselves could get behind. They wanted to set up a business that would do things differently.
“Under no circumstances did we want to start a company, earn lots of money in questionable ways and then later as old men find ourselves donating money to good causes to ease our consciences. We wanted to do things right from the start.” – Kristof Kruse, System Owner Webshop at ARMEDANGELS
ARMEDANGELS – A Pioneer in the Fair Fashion Segment
From the simple idea of printing T-shirts and collecting donations for charity projects through sales, a company has grown that today – 13 years later – is one of the largest eco & fair fashion labels in Europe. With a 96-strong team, four collections a year and timeless designs covering jersey, knitwear, woven fabrics and denim, we prove every day that sustainability and great product design are not mutually exclusive. Armedangels exclusively uses sustainable materials and continuously strives for fair working conditions and a transparent supply chain. Today, ARMEDANGELS is not only Fairtrade and GOTS-certified, but also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.
What brand values are behind ARMEDANGELS and how did they come about?
We want to make a difference by creating uncompromisingly beautiful products that not only look and feel great, but can also be worn for a long time and are manufactured responsibly. Products with true value.
Our primary business objective is not to accumulate as much money as possible through the highest possible profit margins, but rather to make a difference and to offer our customers beautiful, long-lasting products that have been made under responsible manufacturing conditions. In a world with finite planetary boundaries and increasingly scarce resources as well as increasing social awareness of the issue of sustainability, only companies that rethink their core function will survive in the long run. Should the ultimate and undisputed goal of a company be to generate the greatest possible monetary profit for its shareholders? We believe the answer to that is “no!” Of course, we, too, have to generate profit in order to survive in the long term, but this is not the core objective of our company. The willingness to set other priorities is therefore crucial. At present, our USP is largely based on our socially and ecologically responsible manufacturing. Customers are becoming aware of the immense ecological and social impact of the clothing industry and are increasingly looking for alternatives. We are the alternative.
Still, we would never describe ourselves as completely sustainable. That would mean that we had reached our goal and that there was no more room to improve. That’s not the case, of course! We ensure ecological and socially responsible manufacturing through our cooperation with GOTS, Fairtrade and the Fair Wear Foundation, among others. In our opinion, however, the key is the company’s mindset and the company’s mission. What is our purpose as a company? What social responsibilities do we have?
In addition to our mission to offer uncompromising, beautiful products, we are committed to transparency in all areas, and live by the motto “nothing to hide”. One such area is that of suppliers, because far too often the communication in clothing company supply chains works through one thing in particular: pressure, if not extortion. Basically: “If you can’t offer me price X, we’ll just go to another supplier.” The fashion brands are in a position of power here, which they largely take full advantage of. This deeply contradicts our approach. Accordingly, we do not dictate prices to our customers, but operate with an open-costing system. Among other things, this is based on material costs and labour costs that cover at least the minimum wage. We also disclose our own price structure to the supplier in order to establish the greatest possible transparency. This reflects our philosophy of communicating with our suppliers at eye level. To this end, we also have our suppliers evaluate us once a year, for example. They receive a questionnaire from us in which we ask them to rate our work and to share any suggestions they may have for even more successful cooperation.
The same applies to communication with end customers, to whom we disclose the cost structure in our social report, for example, using sample products. Overall, we don’t view sustainability as a fixed state, but as an ongoing process.
Our current and new strategic orientation is called circularity, i.e. the evolution towards a circular economy. This includes options such as borrowing, repairing and recycling, but goes far beyond the individual aspects, as recycling after the first phase of use must be taken into account as early as the product design stage. Beyond that, systems must be installed that preserve the raw materials as valuable resources.
That’s our current challenge.
What is ARMEDANGELS’ distribution model? Online only or are your products also available in stores?
We serve both ecommerce and stationary trade with about 900 POS throughout Europe.
What digital strategy does ARMEDANGELS pursue and how do ecommerce and sustainability fit together?
We started as a purely digital company and then started to add stationary trade over time as well. Online is therefore an important business driver for us, and in times of the coronavirus crisis, online has been all the more important. As a result, we have now also converted the B2B business to online in order to enable retailers to make contactless pre and re-orders.
The current ARMEDANGELS online shop is based on Magento 1.9. What aspects of Magento have recently caused you to start investigating alternative ecommerce systems?
Magento 1.9 is an excellent system but also quite old. With the end of support and the ever-increasing mobile traffic, it was clear to us that we needed a new system to get the site up and running quickly and securely.
What were your requirements for a new shop system?
We were looking for a system that would provide us with a modern platform architecture for the next 5–7 years and would allow us to pursue a headless approach, because we assume that the proportion of mobile users will continue to grow and speed is one of the most important KPIs in that respect.
Why did you ultimately choose to go with Shopware 6?
Which agency are you using to implement the project?
We’re implementing the shop project with Shopware Enterprise Partner dasistweb.
The go-live date for the new Shopware 6 shop is planned for summer 2020. How far along are you in the project? What relaunch processes are you currently working on?
The shopping world modules are basically done and we’re currently working on the ERP and PIM interfaces.
Thank you so much for sharing with us.
We wish you all the best for the future!
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