Few businesses can boast a prime minister as a customer and sales from 6 continents within the first 2 months of opening. Yet that is just what the hi-tech gentlemen’s shoe phenomenon that is Lodger Footwear has achieved with its choice of bespoke, customised and ready to wear shoe collections.
That ‘customised’ option holds the secret of their success. Men of all ages are drawn to the customised-fit based on extremely accurate and detailed laser scanner measurements of their feet. The custom-fit provides near bespoke comfort and quality at around a third of the bespoke cost, without sacrificing any of the luxury materials and bespoke customer service.
The laser-scanning device that takes over 50 detailed measurements to create a 3-D map of each individual foot is at the heart of both Lodger’s bespoke and customised ‘best-fit’ options. The system was developed by Lodger’s founder, Nathan Brown, who has a background with the top sports footwear manufacturers, having worked with Nike in the US, adidas in the US and Germany, and Puma in the UK.
What Nathan doesn’t know about shoe construction, comfort and performance isn’t worth knowing. At 6’9,” taking size 14s, he has a more than a fleeting personal interest in comfortable footwear. That unique combination of knowledge, passion and personal drive made him the ideal person to blend the history and craft of bespoke men’s shoes with the latest technological advances. That’s what he did when he created Lodger Footwear in the autumn of 2008.
Increasingly Lodger takes their measuring equipment to the US and the Middle East, because, once measured, customers can later re-order their choice of bespoke or customised shoes.
The customised ‘best-fit’ shoes can be adapted from the ready to wear collections or Lodger’s shoe of the month, available for that month only, subject to the shape of the foot and the suitability of the designs. Lodger provide individual advice on the best choices. With manufacturing facilities in the UK and Italy, Lodger also offers three ready-to-wear collections: English Classic, English Contemporary and Italian Contemporary.
As befits the English collections, the Lodger Footwear shop is situated in London, UK, in the heart of the fashionable West End.
Nathan Brown says, “Although I’m an American, there was no choice but to open in London, which is the most sophisticated market in the world for well-made men’s shoes. London men understand the rules of classic dress but have the creativity to selectively break them. The superlative footwear craftsmanship available nearby in Northampton was also important. We also have manufacturing facilities in Italy. That combination of Italian flair and English craftsmanship allows us to offer both top quality fashion and top quality classic footwear, all produced to exceptionally high quality standards.
“Some of our customers have quite literally never found smart, comfortable shoes until they came to us. For example, we produced the first pair of comfortable lace-up shoes for a Mongolian rugby player who had extraordinarily wide feet.”
But it is online where Lodger’s ability to innovate comes to the fore. To take this blend of perfect-fit, technology, current fashion trends and extraordinary customer service online, Lodger worked with Twiss Consulting on marketing strategy before engaging US, Chicago-based Gorilla on creative web design to develop LodgerFootwear.com.
Lodger already sets a blistering fashion pace by producing a new shoe design each month, available for that month only. Gorilla suggested using a blog seamlessly integrated with the website to feature the shoe of the month and other insights into footwear at “The Gentleman’s Corner”. The blog’s RSS structure means it gets into search engines much faster than traditional website HTML.
But Gorilla has delivered much more than mere functionality. They have created an experience that is as aesthetically powerful and engaging as the Lodger shoes themselves. They responded with a ‘best of breed’ feature-rich ecommerce platform that is easy to use and intelligently retains customer data, whilst using top end photography and design and innovative features to reinforce the Lodger Footwear brand.
In a move that echoes the way Lodger customises their digital shoe lasts for a best-fit, Gorilla adapted the powerful open source Magento ecommerce platform and online marketing solution for Lodgerfootwear.com. Magento is a feature-rich, professional open-source eCommerce solution that offers complete flexibility and control over the look, content, and functionality of an online store. Gorilla customised the Magento e-commerce platform to provide Lodger's central inventory management system and online sales engine. Magento's rich functionality was used to include a customer “wardrobe”; secure order history and tracking; plus a digital address book for quicker checkout; multiple cross-selling, up-selling and promotions. Magento is also optimised for search engine technology allowing users to attract and convert more qualified customers, leading to business growth.
To host the Lodger site, Gorilla chose UK-based Xtraordinary Hosting as one of the most experienced Magento hosting providers available. Eric Walter explains, “Gorilla chose Xtraordinary (xtrahost.co.uk) because we were looking for a host that not only had experience hosting Magento sites, but had demonstrated an understanding of the technology and thus the capability to provide reliable hosting for our Magento-based site.”
Andrew Ogilvie, founder of Xtraordinary Hosting adds, “We are a Magento Silver partner, and we have been so since Magento's official launch. Xtraordinary Hosting’s virtualised platform for Magento Hosting provides guaranteed minimum levels of guaranteed memory and processing power. Xtraordinary's Magento hosting is highly tuned to provide lightning response times as it caches PHP code requests to reduce code compilation load. We further reduce the load by using memory-based storage of temporary files and we have optimised the Magento database to make the best use of available memory.“
Hosting is handled on Xtraordinary's well established and highly regarded Xen virtual hosting platform featuring high specification HP servers to deliver Gorilla’s remit of a fast, responsive hosting solution, customised and optimised for Magento.
Gorilla also specified an ability to cope with growing traffic levels, in particular to scale up in terms of bandwidth usage, processing power and memory capacity. Scalable hosting is particularly easy on Xtraordinary Hosting’s Xen servers.
Xtraordinary’s Magento hosting platform is build on an entirely open source platform consisting of Magento, PHP, Zend, Apache, MySQL, Xen and Ubuntu Linux. This is a powerful combination of widely used software products which have proven reliability and stability.
Xtraordinary Hosting was also particularly suited to providing strong UK and international Internet connectivity via membership of LINX (the London Internet Exchange) and their own diverse blend of Tier-1 networks such as NTT, Level(3), Global Crossing, Tiscali International, and Abovenet. Xtraordinary Hosting manages the Lodger site at Interxion’s secure datacentre in central London and, in keeping with Lodger’s meticulous attention to detail, they provide a fully managed service.
Andrew Ogilvie says, “Xtraordinary Hosting take care of all the behind the scenes maintenance allowing Lodger to literally get on with minding the shop. We look after service monitoring 24/7 and provide a round the clock troubleshooting service. We also handle daily backups, patching and upgrades for Magento, the databases, webservers and operating system.