Online sales take off at Samsonite after site overhaul 

By April Berthene

May 28, 2024
Online sales takeoff at Samsonite after site overhaul

Luggage brand Samsonite knew it was too dependent on its wholesale channel and wanted to make direct-to-consumer sales a larger part of its revenue. After replatforming eight of its brands onto the Salesforce Storefront Reference Architecture, Samsonite did just that.  

Samsonite’s brands had become too siloed, said David Oksman, Samsonite’s vice president of marketing and ecommerce at the Salesforce Connections Conference in May in Chicago. The global brand needed to elevate the omnichannel and digital experience for its portfolio of brands, including Tumi, American Tourister, Gregory, High Sierra, ebags, Lipault and Hartmann, he said. 

After evaluating different technologies, Samsonite selected Salesforce because the vendor aligned with its priorities. This includes a vendor with a global presence and technology that could sit between the consumer-facing website and backend base architecture, Oksman said. For example, Samsonite needed technology that could add flexibility to the front-end, so its merchandising team could make each brand distinct, but could also keep its other website features consistent, such as its rating and reviews plugin.  

After eight months, Samsonite launched the new sites in 2023, which was “incredibly fast,” Oksman said. When comparing to 2019, before COVID-19 upended luggage sales, digital sales increase 100% and its conversion increase 14%. 

The new sites are distinct from one another but still allow for similar functionality. For example, the Gregory brand, which has more technical bags such as for hiking, allows shoppers to shop for bags by different activities. This same module on the Samsonite brand will look different, funneling shoppers through options such as a carry-on bag or weekend bag.  

A year into the relaunch, Samsonite is still happy with its key performance indicators, Oksman said. The brand evaluate its modules weekly to optimize which ones consumers are engaging with and which ones lead to shoppers bouncing off the page.  

Samsonite talks TikTok, artificial intelligence  

When it comes to marketing to consumers, while the technology has changed, the basic principles have not, Oksman said.  

“Marketing over the past 100 years has not changed,” Oksman said. “It is about, where is the attention, and how are you culturally relevant when the consumer is either in purchase mode, or how are you culturally relevant as a band when you’re in their zeitgeist, when they’re not thinking about buying your product.”  

In 2024, that means marketers have to be active and keeping up with the trends on social media and search, among other channels. 

“We need to be moving at the speed of culture,” Oksman said. 

While some marketers may be worried that the United States will ban the popular, video-focused social media platform TikTok, Oksman is not. Because of alleged threats of espionage and surveillance, the U.S. passed legislation that requires TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance to sell within a year or else it will ban the platform.

“It’s too big to fail,” Oksman said.  

Artificial intelligence is another technology that is challenging the marketing arena. Many marketers have embraced AI and generative AI as a useful tool, and so has search behemoth Google.  

“As marketers we don’t really know what’s driving that algorithm, despite me asking them quite frequently,” Oksman said.  

Google recently changed its search results to sometimes show an artificial intelligence blurb, labeled “AI summary” or “AI overview” at the top of the page, which pushes the organic results further down the page.   

“It’s something we have to think about and consider and understand so that we’re not losing ground,” Oksman said.