Playmobil isn’t playing games with its international Websites anymore: The $2 billion toy manufacturer last fall relaunched 10 international sites in five languages to better focus on expanding into new markets and maintaining a consistent brand image.
After six months of planning, Zirndorf, Germany-based Geobra Brandstätter, maker of the Playmobil brand, in November relaunched the sites with on-demand e-commerce software provider Demandware and its German implementation partner T-Systems. Countries with revamped sites include the U.S., Canada, France, Switzerland, England, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Greece. Playmobil, which specializes in small plastic people figures with themes such as space, pirates, and trains, plans to relaunch sites in additional countries this year.
“We partnered with Demandware to gain multi-site and multi-language capabilities and be able to better serve our customers,” Michael Konzmann, Playmobil director of e-commerce, said in a release. “We can now continually update our site with new innovations around the seasonal holidays and easily handle spikes in traffic.”
In addition to aggregating two different platforms—North American and European—to one worldwide platform, the sites also include new bells and whistles such as greater merchandise functionality that supports seasonal business and promotions, improved search capabilities for quick access to a specific replacement part, better “searchability” by search engines like Google, wish lists, and e-mail postcards. Hendrik Hoppe, leader of the eBusiness excellence team at T-Systems, says the Playmobil sites also received a full redesign that better addresses its target group of young children. “This target group is not able to read, so instead they see pictured buttons and intuitive guidance,” Hoppe says.
Launching 10 sites is never simple, “but it gets increasingly complex when you’re talking about 10 country specific sites,” says Jamus Driscoll, vice president, marketing, at Demandware. Part is the complexity is that it’s not economically feasible to manage 10 separate e-commerce infrastructures including hardware, software, and maintenance. “The objectives of [Playmobil’s] initiatives were to maintain a consistent brand image across all geographies, yet enable in-country merchant teams to have the flexibility to specify language, currency, and merchandising tactics—such as specific colors and text for each country’s police cars—necessary to drive success within the regions,” he says.
Other regional flexibilities required were different zip code handling, payments, search, and taxes, as well as migrating customer data to the new platform. Demandware’s platform on-demand platform enabled local merchandising teams have control over country-specific sites, while leveraging an underlying architecture that’s consistent for merchandising practices, technical architecture, and brand guidelines. As a result, Playmobil could roll out multiple sites quickly and focus on growing its businesses, says Driscoll.