Apollo: Leading the way in customer experience in online eye care

apollo goes headless with frontastic

Optician Apollo benefits from headless technologies and Frontastic as a Commerce Frontend Plaftform, creating maximum flexibility in the implementation of its digital strategy.

With around 900 stores, Apollo has the most optician branches in Germany so it’s always close to its customers. In 2019, according to the latest figures from the German Central Association of Opticians and Optometrists (ZVA), 89.3% of eyewear purchases were still made purely in-store without any involvement of online channels. Even so, the optical chain was keen to adopt an omnichannel strategy. It would only be a matter of time before the online share of total sales grows, especially as younger shoppers with single-vision glasses start taking advantage of the convenience of both retail and online.

Apollo was one of the first traditional brick-and-mortar opticians to move into online sales. The first online store launched in 2016 using Hybris and Oracle as a base. However, aspects of their legacy platform made it difficult for the company to further develop its eCommerce business at the necessary speed. The tech stack had become a growth stopper.

Headless creates maximum flexibility

For an optician that set itself the goal of delighting customers with outstanding service, professional advice, and high-quality products on all channels, this was the impetus for change. To meet this goal, they needed to renew the software architecture and take a headless commerce approach. With commercetools as the backend solution and Frontastic as the frontend provider, the aim was to ensure that future changes to the online store could be implemented agilely and without major programming effort. In October 2018, a team of 10 started with the implementation. Six months later, Apollo went live with a new online store. And it wasn’t just a win-win for customers.

“We clearly see the online store as an integrated sales channel with growth potential and definitely have ambitious sales targets,” says Daniela Zbick, Head of Digital at Apollo, explaining the role of online retail in the channel mix.

And apollo.de is also playing an increasingly relevant role as a source of information for customers as part of a holistic omnichannel strategy.

The right customer journey for every customer

So, as part of the store relaunch, it was important to have the ability to map the different customer journeys more quickly. After all, a customer buying new sunglasses has different needs than someone ordering glazed glasses or new contact lenses. “For us, the leanest onsite customer journey is the customer who buys sunglasses as a fashion accessory,” says the eCommerce expert. “This customer comes through classic performance marketing channels, is accompanied via the store in their selection through filters and virtual try-on, and in the end comes to the conversion as a result.” It becomes more complex when talking about corrective eyewear. Unless the buyer is an existing Apollo customer, they not only have to pick out a suitable model, but they have to know and actively enter their visual values and then configure the desired lenses. “These are very consultation-intensive products, and we’re proud to provide the customer with the best possible guidance as to which lenses are best for their needs without the need for a personal consultation,” explains Daniela Zbick.

Frontastic’s Composable Frontend Platform approach allows Apollo’s eCommerce team to finetune the customer’s onsite journey from product catalog to shopping cart in an iterative process — without affecting other areas.

Zbick doesn’t see the store at the end of the redesign process. “We’re continuously working on improving the store even further,” she says. For example, the product detail pages will be redesigned with better product texts and more images, and the checkout will be optimized further. Once the basic work is done, Zbick wants to finetune the customer experience. This involves UX and UI issues in the web store itself, but also new services.

Delighting customers and colleagues

Apollo hasn’t regretted the decision to go with a headless solution with Frontastic as its Frontend provider. “It has definitely moved us forward in terms of the speed and flexibility we need,” Zbick praises.

Feedback from colleagues who use Frontastic as a customer experience management platform on an editorial level is also positive.

“They’re happy because they can now implement things that weren’t thought of before within a very short time.” Daniela Zbick, Head of Digital at Apollo

For example, she says, the team can quickly form new product categories to respond to current circumstances such as the trend toward home offices. Apollo has also been offering its customers a contact lens subscription for a few weeks now. In the past, creating a new product category would have been a long and painful process.

With its modern frontend technology, the optical chain not only wants to delight customers but also wants to attract new staff to the digital department at the company’s location in Schwabach, Germany. The headless approach with Frontastic frees developers from programming basic functions and creates space for them to design and implement creative unique selling proposition features.

Find out more about Frontastic and how it improves customer experience on www.frontastic.cloud, Twitter: @frontasticGmbH, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/frontastic-gmbh/ or request a 30 minute personalized demo:

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