Culture kings focuses on the art, not the science, of its ecommerce empire
Fashion and apparel
If there is no truly perfect retail store on earth, then perhaps the next closest thing can be found Down Under. It is there, on the isle of Australia, where streetwear retailer Culture Kings has developed a shopping experience as cherished by its customers as any pair of Nikes or Adidas.
Indeed, Culture Kings is a place where you’re just as likely to cop a fresh haircut or spot a celebrity as you are grab the latest Jordans. Part of the company’s greatest magic has been taking its brand and exhibiting it online. With Shopify Plus, Culture Kings has enjoyed:
- Year-over-year growth between 40-60% every year since 2013
- The opening of four global online storefronts
- Selling online in three global currencies
Culture Kings’ early days were a tale of duality. On the one hand, there was a thriving retail business, stores spreading through Australia, a reputation backed by a loyal fanbase and a growing list of celeb devotees including Justin Bieber, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wiz Khalifa, who each made a point to visit Culture Kings whenever they visited the country.
Yet as the brick-and-mortar part of this business thrived, its online arm suffered. Cash was being spent hand over fist on Culture Kings’ site, untold amounts of money poured out of the company to outsourced developers in order to merely maintain its web presence. “Our early days of ecommerce, we did actually lose money,” says Simon Beard, Culture Kings’ co-founder. “I remember this time, like thinking, ‘Can we just ban ecommerce and do more stores? Is it too hard? Is it too much work?’”
Something had to give, especially if this company wished to truly break out of Australia and into the world. Culture Kings’ website troubles were spooking Beard at a level he knew he could not accept to succeed.
And then that would break, or this wouldn’t work. You would have this fear based around the website that you didn’t want to try new things because it’ll break. The one thing as an entrepreneur is: you have to have zero fear.Simon BeardCo-Founder, Culture Kings
Upon switching to Shopify Plus, Culture Kings noticed something new. “I really felt like the floodgates opened,” says Beard. “We had the stability. Anything I wanted to do, it seemed possible.”
Here’s what Culture Kings set as a goal for itself: mimic its trademark in-store experience online. It’s what Beard called his “brand synergy” — whatever the famous feel he had helped create inside Culture Kings’ retail stores, the company sought to achieve that feeling and vibe on its website so that shoppers outside Australia could enjoy it, too.
There were, according to Beard, 700 styles of footwear to consider, 1,000 hats, 8,000 styles of apparel, 500 different pairs of pants … and that was just the beginning. How to get it all listed online in the right way?
But here again is where the artists in them thrived, where the challenge to appropriately display itself online was met head-on by Culture Kings’ team. With the ability to customize Shopify Plus to allow for tailored, dynamic product listings of any variation — without the threat of a crash — Culture Kings could make its site its own. The brand then posted weekly lifestyle photo and video shoots online, which led quickly to a Shop The Look page, where Culture Kings’ in-house team could curate outfits on the web the way staff might make personal recommendations in-store.
The final step was to amp up its global outreach. Culture Kings created, launched, and managed multiple global stores through Shopify Plus, all designed with a more localized shopping experience in mind. It was all there, all managed from one hub, where Culture Kings could power localized checkouts for each of their stores. That way, its growing global customer base could log orders in more familiar currencies to them based on their location in the world.
Shopify Plus — what it really did is allow us to more focus on our art side rather than being so bogged down in the science side, which was not our forte. It really enabled us to scale, knowing that we had this platform that delivered, that can grow with us.Simon BeardCo-Founder, Culture Kings
When its ecommerce performance finally reached Culture Kings’ standards, Beard noticed a funny thing happen. “We could actually double-down on our strengths of our art and bringing that in-store experience that I believe we’ve mastered and pioneered into the online world,” he says.
Eventually, no matter that Culture Kings had grown to open multiple retail stores across Australia, ecommerce proved be the brand’s unlocked weapon. Culture Kings’ online business — which now featured four global storefronts selling in three major global currencies — leapt ahead of its in-store sales and has never looked back. Today, 60% of Culture Kings’ revenue comes from ecommerce.
Security in its ecommerce platform has enabled Culture Kings to leave the science of how its online business works to Shopify Plus. In its place, Culture Kings can spend its energy on what it does best. As it considers further global expansion — the goal to eventually open a store in most major cities around the world, true destination shopping experiences complete with DJs, barber shops, and celebrity clientele — Culture Kings’ is emboldened to focus on the retail artistry that makes this company so unique.
Ecommerce has grown into a strength, and Shopify Plus is that platform and that safety net,” Beard says. “I never have that feeling of, ‘Is it gonna work?’ Even in our million-dollar sales days, it still powers through and can bring it home.Simon BeardCo-Founder, Culture Kings