- NIHON ICHIBAN is a Japanese business that sells to both a domestic and international client base. Their overall goal is to become the #1 online retailer of authentic Japanese products.
- Launched on Volusion, NIHON ICHIBAN quickly ran into issues with multi-language, multi-currency and other tools, which prevented them from building a high-quality online store that could cater to their international customer base.
- NIHON ICHIBAN chose Zoey based on the strength of Zoey’s multi-language and multi-currency tools. Zoey’s rich features and app integrations also gave NIHON ICHIBAN more freedom to customize their store without the headaches and cost of a custom store built with Magento or WooCommerce.
- Since moving to Zoey, NIHON ICHIBAN’s annual online revenue has doubled. They’ve used this growth to open their first brick and mortar store in Japan, with another planned for Europe at the end of 2016.
NIHON ICHIBAN’s story starts with Chinriu, a family owned manufacturer of traditional Japanese food that was established in 1871 by the the last chief cook of Odawara Castle. In 2012, Chinriu launched the NIHON ICHIBAN brand as a platform for traditional Japanese companies, empowering them to sell authentic Japanese food, craft and design products.
Soon after launching their first online store, they ran into challenges. Selling both domestically to a Japanese audience and internationally to a global audience required an ecommerce platform with strong multi-language and multi-currency tools.
“Prior to Zoey, we were on Volusion which had very poor translation and language capabilities. Volusion charges for bandwidth as well, which becomes very expensive,” said Nicolas Soergel, Managing Director of Chinriu.
As they were looking for an alternative platform, Zoey’s strong multi-language and multi-currency tools quickly stood out over the other platforms they were evaluating. NIHON ICHIBAN also liked the robust features and app integrations, which they knew would power their growth for years to come.
“What we really like about Zoey is that the built-in features and app integrations give us a lot of flexibility in customizing our store, but we don’t have to worry about hosting, security or overall system performance like we would if we had opted for a custom website on a platform like Magento Community Edition,” said Soergel
NIHON ICHIBAN rounds out their Zoey store with several key app integrations:
Yotpo is critical for collecting and publishing customer reviews of products on their site
Nosto allows them to display personalized product recommendations to shoppers
AfterShip helps with tracking international shipments
MailChimp powers their email newsletter
Post Affiliate Pro enables them to manage their affiliate marketing program
Since launching their Zoey store, business has been great. A much improved online store has helped NIHON ICHIBAN double their annual online revenue, driven mainly by a larger average order size per customer and improved SEO performance. This growth aided them in opening their first brick and mortar shop in Japan in January 2016. But that’s just the beginning.
They plan to soon increase their catalog from 2,000 SKUs to 10,000, something they’re confident Zoey’s product tools will enable them to manage with ease.
“Two of our favorite Zoey features are the very flexible product attributes and the interface for adding products. This allows us to create layered navigation in categories, which helps our customers quickly filter a large list of products according to the attributes they care about most,” said Soergel.
In the next few weeks NIHON ICHIBAN also plans to release an updated wholesale side of their business using Zoey’s new B2B toolkit. This new toolkit makes Zoey the only SaaS ecommerce platform with a dedicated suite of tools for B2b and wholesale businesses. At the end of 2016, NIHON ICHIBAN plans to open their first foreign subsidiary in Europe, with Zoey powering its online store as well.
As one of Zoey’s first customers in 2014, NIHON ICHIBAN has seen the platform evolve dramatically in a little over two years.
“Overall I’m very satisfied with the progression of Zoey. I love the platform’s rate of change, whether it’s a simple feature that’s released like the ability to add order comments or a major release like your new B2B toolkit. I also like that you take customer feedback seriously. Several of the apps available on Zoey were integrated based on my suggestions,” said Soergel
When asked if he had any advice for his aspiring entrepreneurs and other online store owners, Nicolas Soergel had the following to say:
“Never give up! It takes about three years and a lot of persistence to build a sustainable business. Even if you start strong, it takes a lot of effort to improve the shopping experience. As ecommerce technology keeps evolving, staying ahead of the competition is a constant journey and there is no such thing as the perfect online store. You accumulate many small improvements over a long period of time and that’s what gives you an advantage over your competitors.”
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