Turning old into new: How Hirmer modernized its Oxid webshop with a headless frontend
Hirmer, the Munich-based retailer for men’s fashion, wanted to migrate its online store to a more modern system. To minimize the risk, the developers docked a modern headless frontend onto an old Oxid backend. Although the project was complex, the conclusion of the project managers is, “We would do it again.”
Oxid & commercetools frontend
With its three brands Hirmer, Hirmer Large Sizes and Eckerle, the Munich-based family business Hirmer has been considered Germany’s top address for men’s fashion for three generations. At Hirmer’s flagship store in the middle of Munich’s pedestrian zone, everything revolves around men on 9,000 square meters and five floors – including wedding services, made-to-measure clothing and personal shopping. For men who need fashion in plus sizes, Hirmer operates 15 stores of the offshoot Hirmer Large Sizes. And men will also find a rich selection of business and casual menswear in premium quality at Eckerle’s nine stores. Customers are used to first-class customer service from the Hirmer and Eckerle stores. The retailer also wants to offer this customer experience in its online stores.
However, there was a challenge in the further development of the online store. The tech stack on which Hirmer’s online stores are based ran reliably and stably. But individual systems and especially the frontend were so inflexible that extensions and new features could only be programmed with great effort. “We had various challenges and our desired concept was originally to replace everything,” says Frederic Worm, Head of Shop Technology at Hirmer. “But if we had also replaced the store backend, we would have had a complete construction site from merchandise management to the front. The risk just seemed too high for us. That’s why we decided to go a different route.”
With the support of its technology partners SHOPMACHER and Deutsche Daten Portal- und Plattformlösungen, Hirmer decided to keep its existing Oxid backend as a first step towards modernization and to rebuild the frontend with Frontastic’s Frontend-as-a-Service solution (now: “commercetools Frontend”) in Headless. In addition, the developers implemented a modern PIM from ACL and a new order management solution from the company ACL.
In fact, the whole project was much more complex in its dependencies than originally thought. An example: The search solution Algolia can be easily connected with the control module of Frontastic, but only if Algolia is filled with the standard modules of commercetools. In Hirmer’s case, however, commercetools’ standard stack did not fit Hirmer’s data format requirements at all. So Frontastic’s standard solution was not applicable for the retailer at all. Instead, a complete module had to be developed to talk to Algolia in the way Hirmer’s data required.
An important goal of the project was also to support Hirmer’s internal developers in building up their own knowledge piece by piece so that they can continuously develop the online store in the future.
Those responsible at Hirmer do not regret their decision. One of the positive things that Hirmer’s digital staff found was that the user experience of the store improved almost by itself, even though there were no specific specifications originally. For example, product lists and filters have been revised. Based on the new PIM in combination with the headless frontend, online customers can now have their desired products filtered not only on the basis of color, brand, price or size, but also have numerous different criteria available depending on the product category, such as collar shape or number of buttons on the collar.
In addition, the new headless solution allows not only the front end for the store to be rebuilt, but also other digital customer touchpoints. And that’s exactly what the menswear retailer is planning, for example, a front end for loyalty card holders.
Ultimately, the traditional Munich-based retailer also hopes that by switching to modern front-end technologies, it will be quicker to find suitable employees, who gratefully turn down outdated monoliths.
B2C online store
Migration of the old Oxid frontend to Headless
Order Management Software