Cover Story : Apparel and the City
Hip, urban brand Brooklyn Industries prospers with a redesigned website and retail expansion strategyJune 2010 By Joe Keenan
We're not in Kansas anymore. Such could be the slogan for men's and women's apparel and accessories retailer Brooklyn Industries. Headquartered in its namesake New York City borough, the cross-channel merchant exudes a decidedly urban vibe. From the clothes it sells to the stores where those clothes are sold, Brooklyn Industries caters to the active lifestyles of its city-dweller, 25-year-old to 35-year-old demographic.
With 14 retail stores — 10 in New York City and one each in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore. — an e-commerce website and annual sales approaching $25 million, Brooklyn Industries has grown significantly from humble beginnings. Co-founded by artist turned entrepreneur Lexy Funk in 1998, Brooklyn Industries' roots are as a wholesaler of recycled billboard messenger bags, operating out of a dingy factory in Brooklyn.
The company opened its first retail store in 2001 in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, an area known for its vibrant art community. And in 2004, Brooklyn Industries became a true multichannel retailer when it launched its e-commerce website. That was just the start for this eclectic brand, which has posted sales gains of 25 percent-plus in recent years.
Relaunched Site Yields Dividends
While Brooklyn Industries was growing, it was also becoming paralyzed by its own success. To wit, its website frequently crashed because it didn't have the back-end platform to handle the amount of orders it was generating, particularly after email blasts. In addition to back-end issues, Brooklyn Industries wanted more maneuverability with the front-end design of its site — e.g., the ability to change the look and the feel of the site on a seasonal basis, more control over imagery, and so on.
With aggressive retail growth plans in the works, Brooklyn Industries knew an upgraded website was paramount if it was to sustain its growth. So in 2009, it went in search of a new e-commerce solution, settling on WebLinc's Direct platform. Launched in the first quarter of this year, the redesigned site offers Brooklyn Industries improved product views, including rollover zooms; fit guides; customized product reviews; and expanded social media integration via a blog, Facebook and Twitter, among other functionalities.
"Brooklyn Industries grew out of its prior platform," says Darren C. Hill, co-founder and managing partner of WebLinc. "The customer's user experience was limited. Brooklyn Industries wanted the new site's quality and appearance to accurately represent the brand and store experience."
- Founded: 1998
- Headquarters: Brooklyn
- Primary merchandise: Men’s and women’s apparel and accessories — tops, bottoms, dresses, graphic T-shirts, outerwear, jewelry, handbags and messenger bags
- Annual sales: $15 million to $25 million
- # of employees: 180
- Sales percentage by channel: 90 percent retail, 10 percent online
- Retail stores: 14
- Email service provider: StreamSend
- E-commerce platform: WebLinc