A composable tech stack, with Sanity as the content layer, frees the team from onerous multi-store content management and powers a gorgeous, performant website—with video at the heart.
Composable commerce is the ideal approach for an experiential brand like ours—we need creative freedom to inspire and a checkout experience that’s as smooth as our product.
As the inventor of the revolutionary eFoil, Lift Foils wants to bring the magical feeling of flying over water to as many people as possible. Headquartered in Puerto Rico since 2010, the company has more than 300 demo locations across the globe selling a range of eFoils, surf foils, and accessories.
A video-rich, ultra-fast website (along with great payment processing) improves conversion
A central source of truth for content across several Shopify instances reduces overhead for content and dev teams alike.
Customized editing UI and structured content power best-in-class shopper experiences like complex product configurators and dealer locators.
In 2015 Nick Leason, an engineer and passionate surfer, came up with the idea of a board that can fly above any body of water—without wind or waves. After years of R&D, the eFoil was born, and it has since earned the adoration of everyday water lovers all the way to top surfing professionals like Laird Hamilton and Ki Lenny.
Bringing Nick’s disruptive product to market is no small feat given its high price point and the fact that you really have to see it—and ride it—to believe it. People typically discover Lift Foils by spotting someone cruising inexplicably over waves either in person or in a YouTube video. Their curiosity piqued, they visit the Lift Foils website, do research, and look for one of the 300 demo locations near them where they can try the product firsthand. Once they’ve had a ride, they’re ready to configure their eFoil back on liftfoils.com.
After the product went viral, Lift Foils’ sales soared, but their legacy e-commerce setup couldn’t keep pace—slow page loads risked shopper drop-off. Internally, the Lift Foils team was bogged down by cumbersome content management with disparate sites for various regions. Any global changes had to be duplicated, which was both time-consuming and introduced opportunity for error.
Lift Foils had to improve performance, but they also needed to capitalize on demand with a more compelling experience for visitors. They knew video is the best way to showcase the breathtaking experience of riding an eFoil, but the off-the-shelf functionality of WooCommerce and WordPress wasn’t robust enough to support rich content.
To deliver an online shopping experience worthy of their brand, while also creating efficient, scalable content workflows for their team, they needed to modernize their technology.
Lift Foils selected Sanity agency partner Commerce-UI (a composable commerce expert and the team behind Aether) to completely reimagine their website and e-commerce experience. The task was to replace the slow, basic site with a modern, video-rich web experience that draws visitors in with movement—while improving performance and conversion.
Commerce-UI responded by assembling a composable commerce stack. They chose Shopify as the e-commerce layer, which, among other benefits, is known for its top-converting checkout tooling.
For content management, Commerce UI chose Sanity as a “no-brainer” decision. Top drivers included:
- Unlimited content types so the team can create new experiences without constraint
- Live previews and more to provide familar comforts from Shopify’s online store editor
- Seamless integration with Shopify as the first CMS to be a Shopify Certified App Partner
“To meet the deams of multi-region stores, and to elevate the experience for high-end brands like Lift Foils, you have to go composable. And when you go composable, Sanity is the no-brainer solution.”
— Michal Klim, CTO and Partner, Commerce-UI
Providing website visitors with a luxury experience is crucial to Lift Foils, especially as competitive pressure increased. They’d built a passionate community around their high-quality products and craftsmanship, but their original website featured only static images, which weren’t engaging and didn’t allow the product to shine.
With a composable stack that includes Sanity, Mux, and Next.js, Commerce-UI built a new site that uses video to the max, without degrading the user experience. Shoppers are treated to a gorgeous, fast-loading website, brought to life with dynamic and immersive content. Prior to Sanity, Lift Foils’ GTmetrix score couldn’t break past a B- grade. Since launching the new site, grades have gone as high as A. The website is also passing core web vitals on mobile and desktop, despite heavy video content.
“The site is lightning-fast, we’re very happy about it. We have this new, really rich experience—full-screen video on everything, huge images—so the fact that it loads this experience so fast is a big win for us.”
— Oren Schauble, Marketing , Lift Foils
Of course, images are still central to the storytelling for Lift Foils, from full-bleed heroes to product detail shots. Curating and maintaining these is a day-to-day part of the content experience. Previously, the team would upload new images for every placement to manually ensure cropping and scaling were optimized. This was both time-consuming and stressful—it’s easy to make an error or choose the wrong image for a given page when they all look the same in thumbnails!
Now, Lift Foils takes advantage of Sanity’s intelligent image cropping and scaling feature to manage their all-important visuals. They upload an image once at high resolution, define the focal area of the image, and let Sanity do the rest. Sanity’s image pipeline provides responsive cropping and compression on demand, so images are performant on any channel or device and optimized for each placement.
Because images are uploaded once in Sanity and reused everywhere, when the team needs to update or remove an image, it’s no longer a fishing expedition to find all the places the image was published.
Lift Foils sells and markets their products internationally, which calls for multiple languages, inventory management, and payment processors. Their legacy setup to support this, with disparate marketing and e-commerce stacks for different regions, was unsustainably complex.
For a global content update or addition (like a product drop or legal update), the team needed to manually repeat the change across every site, a tedious, error-prone task. It also degraded brand consistency as some sites were missed or descoped given bandwidth.
With the new composable stack, all content—from product data to rider stories to news—is stored and managed centrally in Sanity. For global updates, Lift Foils can create and update content once before it cascades to all stores and regional website routes seamlessly. For localized experiences, they can deliver the right content—inventory, languages, currency, payment processing, and more—based on the country you’re visiting from with an auto-direct to the right route of liftfoils.com. This personalizes the experience for each region and distributor, while maintaining the fidelity of the Lift Foils brand and the latest inspiration.
Often, it’s attention to detail that sets a brand apart from the crowd. As part of the premium experience of buying an eFoil, customers can tailor their product however they’d like, down to the smallest element—including the board, mast, battery, propeller, color, and add-ons and accessories.
Making this configuration feel as seamless and luxurious as what you’d expect from high-end brands like Apple or Tesla is no small feat. The number of options to consider as you configure an eFoil (and the resulting number of potential variants) far exceed Shopify’s limits. With Sanity, Lift Foils overcame this limitation by bringing all of the eFoil component content into the Sanity Studio, where it’s simple to manage. As customers choose different options, the front end updates instantly to dynamically display the corresponding descriptions, prices, and images. A Netsuite integration ensures seamless, accurate logistics processes.
“With Sanity, we’re able to manage all the different things we do—multiple languages, regional and partner sites, products and configuration—in one sane interface.”
— Oren Schauble, Marketing, Lift Foils
In making the move to composable commerce, it was very important to Lift Foils that any new CMS be intuitive to for their lean, non-technical content management team. Their day-to-day work is at the heart of the company’s ability to sell and grow, from ensuring product inventory or dealer location accuracy to publishing the rider stories that convert the curious.
Previously, the team found WordPress to be cumbersome and chaotic. The Lift Foils team who led the stack re-architecture described WordPress as “web 1.0” and said the team came to accept it was simply going to be buggy.
The team adds 6-8 new products to the site each year and regularly uploads blog posts and videos, but it’s the day-to-day tasks that make up the bulk of the team’s time in the CMS. This includes updating the dealer locator, which is critical for shoppers to find a place to test ride the eFoil. Using a Mapbox integration, Lift Foils provides a live map on their site to show all dealer locations. With more than 300 dealers, keeping the addresses, hours, and contact info up-to-date is a perpetual activity, one that the Lift Foils team can manage from within Sanity as their centralized editing interface.
Now, thanks to the intuitive editorial experience within Sanity, keeping information accurate and up-to-date is painless; the team no longer needs to adapt their daily workflows to the rigidity of a legacy CMS. Commerce-UI had total freedom to customize Lift Foils’ Sanity Studio (the editing interface) to match exactly how the team worked—dealer updates have become a streamlined day-to-day content management experience.
“Sanity is easier to navigate and work with than our previous setup. It’s very self-explanatory on where we go to do what. We have a lot of options and configurations which are one or two clicks away, vs. diving into some plugin to find it.”
– Oren Schauble, Marketing, Lift Foils
As a brand, Lift Foils relies on storytelling to convert; they need freedom to innovate as they creating differentiated content experiences. Under the hood, this requires the ability to develop new types of content and create relationships between them to deliver connected content that flows.
For example, a typical website page may have articles, authors, products, prices, authors, and so on—which are all content types. Lift Foils has a plethora of other content types as part of their elevated, immersive experience. As just one example, consider the product configurator: this requires new content types like efoil, shopifyProduct, productOption, and shopifyVariant.
Prior to choosing Sanity, Lift Foils considered a different headless CMS, but with a strict limit of content types. They hit this limit nearly immediately. Increasing their allotment would have sunk their entire budget—it was a dealbreaker.
Sanity, however, provides unlimited content types. This was the icing on the cake of Sanity’s superior functionality, customizability, and integration with Shopify. With Sanity, Lift Foils never needs to hold back a great idea for a new page type or experiment because of content type limits.
E-commerce companies choose the Sanity Composable Content Cloud to deliver rich online shopping experiences at scale. Learn more about Sanity for Enterprise, or explore how Sanity + Commerce-UI work together. If you’d like a demo, our sales team would love to talk to you.