Levi’s Brings the In-Store Experience Online for Modern Shoppers

Shifting to a DTC approach to focus on Gen Z and millennials increased conversion ratios and product views

Levi's launched its new site nationwide in August. Levi's
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The pandemic has forced clothing retailers to rethink how to effectively reach customers digitally, but Levi’s had been planning a pivot to become more ecommerce-friendly months before Covid-19 decimated in-store shopping.

In October 2019, the legacy brand began working with brand experience and digital product agency Instrument to determine how to shift from department stores to a direct-to-consumer approach to better reach Gen Z and millennial shoppers. The companies worked together to launch a redesigned website and app aiming to replicate Levi’s in-store experience by emphasizing products in a digital space through educational videos on how to get the right fit, virtual head-to-toe looks, and enhanced item details and recommendations.

Levi’s launched its new site and app in August to nearly immediate positive results. Within a few days, according to the brand, the conversion ratio on levi.com was up 7% and product views were up 20%. The brand also reported an increase in purchases on non-jeans and women’s products.

Autumn Utley, associate strategy director at Instrument, said development around the shift was based on “smoothing the edges between Levi’s physical and online retail” and thinking about “how to mirror what it feels like to shop in store, online.”

“When thinking about the dot-com experience, the phrase that kept coming up was this blend of content and commerce,” Utley said. “It was about really giving customers the information and the confidence they needed in purchasing the product or the jeans that felt right for them.”

As jean shoppers often rely on in-store associates for fit information related to tailoring, material, style and cut, the brand worked with tailors to create video tutorials that include how to measure oneself for denim products, which were displayed under the relevant products on the site.

Levi’s is also now emphasizing the brand’s history, sustainability and humanitarian initiatives directly on the homepage (available under a Discover tab) and making sure the featured models are diverse.

“We’re being very intentional about our storytelling between our digital channels to increase engagement,” said Haley Grevelding, senior director of content marketing and creative at Levi’s, in a statement. “For example, people who are going to levi.com for the first time may have less interest in the history behind the mill that created our denim—but our superfans who download the Levi’s app are hungry for that content and want to be the first to know about an exclusive jean drop made with Japanese selvedge denim.”

Additional changes on the resigned site include a more simplified search functionality, which along with Discover includes Customize and Shop; a more streamlined cart and checkout experience that makes it easier for the brand to communicate promotions; and an upgraded payments page for U.S. sites.

While the redesign isn’t yet two months old, JD Hooge, Instrument’s co-founder and CCO, said the initial results prove how their approach to integrating content and visualizing products was compelling to consumers. He said it also highlights the importance of “syncing up” the creative and technical execution.

“This isn’t just a strategy, content and design exercise. It’s about integrating technology and engineering in a way that makes it a reality,” Hooge explained. “All of those content ideas and visual design updates we worked on together are great. But if you can’t pull it off in execution through the platform, and have it perform for users in an app on your phone or on desktop, then you’re not going to get the performance or experience for the user that you intended.”

ian.zelaya@adweek.com Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.