Case Study: Peacock Alley

Peacock Alley Helps Customers Sheet Shop Faster

When the characters of “Downton Abbey” retire for the evening after a long day of aristocratic adventures, it’s easy to imagine them slipping into a set of freshly ironed Peacock Alley linens. The luxury linens company has a long, storied history. In fact, its tagline is “Long on tradition,” and for good reason. The company was founded nearly fifty years ago when Mary Ella Gabler sold 250 patchwork pillows to Neiman Marcus for its iconic Fortnight celebration. She chose the name Peacock Alley, which recalls the Waldorf Astoria's famed gathering space of the same moniker, to remind her customers that in bedding there are no shortcuts to beauty, luxury, or impeccable craftsmanship. For nearly half a century, Peacock Alley has stayed true to that tradition and continues to delight customers the world over with an extraordinary night’s sleep atop effortlessly luxurious linens. But as the world moved from the idle in-store shopping experience to the fast-paced online purchase, it was time for Peacock Alley to embrace a digital revolution.

Higher Conversion Rate
Faster Time to Interactive
Traffic Accelerated
Year over year growth

The Wholesale to e-Commerce Journey

Sheets are an interesting product because so many of us are wildly brand loyal when it comes to where we lay our heads. They were also something consumers tended to buy in person only—until the pandemic. “We’re a nearly 48-year-old company, and for most of our history we've been driven by wholesale,” says Peacock Alley Director of e-Commerce Andrew McLaughlin.

In 2018, Peacock Alley decided to get serious about its e-commerce presence, getting to know that consumer and owning those direct consumer relationships. At that point, the company switched over to Shopify’s platform. They were pleased with the results and wanted to keep it growing. “There was a pretty good year over year result for 2019, but they could not figure out how to improve the conversion rate without vastly improving the speed of the site” Andrew Noted.

The Challenge: Make the Sheet Shopping Experience as Fast as Possible

“We started working with Edgemesh near the tail end of 2019. At that point, they could only impact a very small percentage of our traffic because our site was so slow to render from the server. So to impact a larger number of visitors,  we redeveloped the Shopify theme; the skin of the site. And then we relaunched it on March 3, 2020. After that, we went from being able to impact like 12% of our traffic to accelerating nearly 97% of our traffic with Edgemesh and the impact was astounding”.

Customers who were accelerated by the Edgemesh platform experienced more than 2x higher conversion rates, higher checkout values and interacted with the site for longer periods of time. “So we were just drooling over what we could do with getting more people served up with the Edgemesh experience” Andrew says. That was about two weeks before everything got locked down. Perfect timing for bolstering Peacock Alley’s online store. “We put ourselves in a good position for Edgemesh to do some good. We were off to the races,” Andrew says. With a new base site deployed and more than 97% of visitors benefitting from an Edgemesh accelerated experience, the 43-year-old brand experienced a massive increase in online sales. The work paid off, and Peacock Alley has now seen a 175% year-over-year growth in overall business, with 90% of sales now coming from e-commerce.

Marketing During A Pandemic 

Now shoppers are meeting brands like Peacock Alley online because they’re meeting all of their boutiques and shopping experiences online. 

“Our marketing department did a really nice job of pivoting from focusing on, ‘look at how beautiful our products are’ to more of a ‘this is what you need to be comfortable in your, in your environment, your forced environment,’” Andrew notes.  Peacock Alley shifted its messaging from luxury to comfort, which also helped during this time when self-care is king. 

Brand Loyalty And Linens

Sheets are something a lot of people think of as a commodity, i.e., you go out, you buy them, and just throw them on the bed. “I think a lot of people see it as a staple that doesn't really necessitate the level of investment that we believe as people, as a company that makes luxury linens think they do,” Andrew says. To Peacock Alley, of course, it’s much more than that. Sheets are a big part of why you sleep well or don't sleep well Andrew notes. Initially, he didn’t realize that, and had purchased sheets at Target or wherever. “I went in on my first day into manufacturing and touched the sheets that I sleep on now, and said wow,” he remembers. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t know what you’re missing until you find out what you’re missing. It’s sort of like, how are you gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris? Once you start investing in your sleep setup and you stay somewhere with less-than-stellar sheets, it can feel as if you’re camping.

“I bought sheets for my mother-in-law, for my family—I want to make sure that when I go to visit, I’m sleeping well,” Andrew confessed. “I want to totally outfit them so they sleep well, too,” he says. “You want everybody, but particularly the people in care about, to be sleeping well.” 

Fulfilling Online Orders

Safety protocols at Peacock Alley are different now because of COVID, of course. “We do more weekend shipping now,” says Andrew. Peacock Alley added another e-commerce-specific shipping line. “The growth we’ve seen on our own site has been significant and we’ve had serious improvement in terms of our Amazon presence as well,” he says.

Post-Pandemic Shopping Predictions

Wholesale environments remain terrific billboards for the brand. All of these different small boutiques with whom Peacock Alley works are great ambassadors for them. They style the Peacock Alley products with other brands and capture people's imaginations. “We've had to have a much bigger photography budget to be able to compensate for that virtually,” Andrew says. With the increase in high resolution photos, Edgemesh’s improvements to key metrics like First Contentful Paint (12% faster), Largest Contentful Paint (60% faster) and Time to Interactive (55% faster) ensure customers can quickly navigate across product options - even on mobile.

Product Descriptions and Messaging 

There’s been a shift in how Andrew and his team describe the products, as well. “We have a history, 47 years, describing our products to designers, linens boutiques,” Andrew says. Peacock Alley talked about its products in a different way than it would directly to a customer. In other words, the audience shifted from B2B to D2C. Now it’s more about, here are the benefits, what they sell, Andrew says. “We call out the thread count now, he explains. “As linen people, we know that thread count is not the end-all-be-all,” he says. “You have to talk about the quality of the cotton that you're starting off with the breathability of the fabrics. It’s still a big deal to a lot of people, so we now call it out because we know that people are looking for that information,” Andrew says. “Those people are not always designers and what we call ourselves linen nerds. These are people who aren't thinking, eating, breathing, sleeping sheets all day.”

Social-Media Marketing

Peacock Alley began working with content creators—influencers and amateur photographers—outside of its normal photography. They are still doing regular photography and shooting their traditional way. But now, we also farm some of it out to folks to come work with them before sharing the product and say, show us how this lives in the wild,” Andrew says. After all, everyone needs sheets. They’ve done an excellent job, Andrew adds. And this way, you don’t have just one face of your brand, it’s a diverse audience in their products. “That’s been a boon for us, as well as for the consumer,” Andrew adds. “This isn’t just the model I’ve seen on ten different sites.” 

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So we were just drooling over what we could do with getting more people served up with the Edgemesh experience.
Andrew McLaughlin
...we went from being able to impact like 12% of our traffic to accelerating nearly 97% of our traffic with Edgemesh and the impact was astounding
Andrew McLaughlin