The customer is in panic mode and the merchant is having what feels like a heart attack. It certainly doesn’t sound like the start of an ultra-successful product release … the kind that routinely sell out and generate more than $100,000 or ever $150,000 in just an hour.
“It definitely did feel like a minor heart attack,” says Brittney Bowles, Director of Marketing and Ecommerce at Frankies Bikinis, only half-jokingly of a recent launch.
So, why was everyone so stressed out?
“We do a great job building excitement around a release,” Bowles explains. “They know our new releases are going to sell out in minutes so they’re really stressed they might not be able to buy the suit they’ve been lusting after for two months.”
When the Frankies’ countdown clock strikes zero, thousands of customers frantically and repeatedly refresh the page so they can be first to purchase the bikini they’ve fallen in love with.
Behind the scenes, Bowles is just as frantic — hurriedly changing homepage images, videos, and replacing the countdown clock with a “Shop Now” button that takes customers to the bikinis newly available for sale:
It’s a manual process that requires speed and precision, which don’t always go well together. It’s extremely stressful. There’s no talking. We’re just trying to get the product release live as fast as possible.
If a mistake is made in the rush or the new bikini isn’t available the instant the countdown clock strikes zero, panicked customers light up Frankies’ live chat, email, and Instagram with questions, worries, and complaints.
Even worse, frustrated customers who repeatedly attempt to purchase but can’t may give up which results in lost sales.
At the same time, Bowles and her team are also executing the marketing campaigns associated with new releases. It’s a lot of work that must be done lightning fast and all at once ...
So why then — at this point — is Bowles only half done?
“Umph” In All the Right Places
The perfect bikini …
That’s what Frankies’ founder, Francesca Aiello, an early Instagram influencer began pursuing in 2012. When the search turned up empty, Aiello began creating her own bikinis and became the youngest designer to debut at the Miami Swim Week 2014.
"I've always been very picky about my bikinis, so I was going to Hawaii to get them custom-made, and my mom suggested I get a few for my friends while I was there,” Aiello says. “I'd give all of my friends bikinis, then they'd go home and post them on Instagram and that’s when Frankies Bikinis started.”
Today, Frankies Bikinis has become a global destination for fashion-forward boho-chic beachwear inspired by Malibu and made in LA and Bali. The company’s bikinis have been worn by supermodels and celebrities including Candice Swanepoel, Ireland Baldwin, and Kylie Jenner.
As Bowles puts it:
Our fabric is buttery soft and flattering. It provides umph in all the right places!
No doubt Bowles could use a bit of “umph” — or help — in carrying out the manual chores associated with Frankies’ product releases.
Remember when we referenced Bowles being only half done? That’s because Frankies also has an Australian site that must be updated simultaneously for each product release.
In fact, Bowles and a co-worker are responsible for manually executing a laundry list of chores on a checklist for both Frankies sites in a matter of minutes that includes:
- Unhiding products
- Navigation changes
- Landing page updates
- Collection page alterations
- Uploading hero images
- Publishing a new homepage layout
“It’s a lot of little things that don’t take a huge amount of time,” Bowles says. “But they all have to be done at once and correctly.”
All those tasks are why Bowles and the Frankies team recently began using a first-of-its-kind ecommerce automation tool …
Rather than doing it all yourself, now you can plan, schedule, and automate everything from flash sales to product launches to holiday campaigns.
Already on Shopify Plus? Install Launchpad now
The application, which is free to Shopify Plus merchants, allows you to schedule, coordinate, and execute major commerce events in advance. With Launchpad you can pre-plan everything on your to-do list and instantly roll it all back once the sale or event is over.
It means Bowles’ no longer frantically works to check off each of those items on her to-do list the moment the countdown clock strikes zero. Instead, Launchpad does everything instantly leaving Bowles and her team to focus on more important tasks.
“This is why Launchpad is our savior. We schedule everything during normal business hours and Launchpad does all of the work for us automatically.”
Brittney Bowles, Director of Marketing and Ecommerce at Frankies Bikinis
It’s the “umph” Bowles and her team had once only dreamed of …
But it wasn’t love at first site.
Sold Out in Two Minutes
The Frankies team is a skeptical bunch.
The team demands performance it can rely on which is one reason why in a world with seemingly a million bikini brands, Frankies has managed to stick out. It’s no surprise then that Bowles and her co-workers are also generally skeptical of ecommerce automation tools like Launchpad.
- Will it be easy to use?
- Will it do what it promises?
- Can we trust it when we need it most?
That skepticism was quickly quelled though and now Frankies uses Launchpad for all of its product releases.
“We’re jumping for joy over Launchpad,” Bowles says. “Our launches are better and more successful since we started using Launchpad.”
Recently, Frankies Bikinis used Launchpad to launch several new products and is also helping the brand achieve the following results:
- One launch earned $150,000 in an hour with one style selling out in two minutes
- When the sold-out item came back in stock it did $95,000 in sales in an hour
- The company is on track to grow year-over-year sales more than 400%
“It’s way less stressful using Launchpad to launch new products,” Bowles says. “With Launchpad it kind of felt like we were missing something because it was so easy and launching a product is usually so much harder than this.”
Besides making product launches easier, the Frankies team credits Launchpad with helping improve the quality of its product launches on three fronts:
Bowles says Launchpad positions the team to set everything up long before the actual launch which allows the team to more easily and quickly identify action items left to do and to double check on items already planned. Importantly, Bowles suggests the site looks more professional on launch days since the Frankies team has ample time to check and re-check its to-do list.
The ability to know beforehand that a launch will be executed perfectly offers peace of mind, as does knowing that the updated or new themes for both of the company’s sites will automatically go live the moment the countdown clock on the landing page runs out.
Better Customer Experience
Customers eager to purchase the moment the countdown clock runs out no longer have to wait for Bowles and her team to manually replace the countdown clock with a link to the new collection for sale which helps the customer checkout faster and reduces the number of customer service inquiries.
Everything runs so smooth with Launchpad,” Bowles says. “We’re so excited about the way it has improved our product launches.
But what about the back-to-back midnight wake up calls Bowles dreads?
The Cure for Flash Sale Hangovers
When you’re growing 400% year over year, it’s not long before ground floor employees like Bowles quickly become company veterans. She was number three at the company which now boasts of a team of thirteen and counting.
“The brand is evolving and we’re growing fast,” Bowles says.
For instance, instead of two massive product launches a year Frankies plans to use Launchpad to launch a new collection every month. The brand is also likely to evolve in ways that include expanding the current line of bikinis and into different markets beyond swimwear.
In addition to monthly launches, Frankies is also known for its 24-hour flash sales that lace the shopping experience with urgency and further accelerates sales growth. However, these flash sales have always required Bowles to wake up at midnight to publish the sale theme and again the next night to close the sale and roll back the original theme.
“I’m going to use Launchpad for all this so I don’t have to stay up so late,” Bowles says. “It’s great that we can rely on Launchpad to schedule what needs to be done during normal business hours and roll it all back automatically. I trust Launchpad to handle everything.”