Case study: MIKI SHOKO Co., Ltd. (MIKI HOUSE) “Using Shifter has reduced the time and work for making multilingual sites by more than half.”

Jason McClintock | November 08, 2019
(From left) Ms. Kazuko Kousaka, Sales Planning Manager, MIKI SHOKO Co., Ltd., Hiromichi Koga CEO, Digital Cube, Seiji Akatsuka, Customer Success Manager, Digital Cube

MIKI SHOKO Co., Ltd. (MIKI HOUSE)Head Office / 1- 76-2, Wakabayashi , Yao, Osaka, Japan
Corporate site: mikihouse.co.jp/corporate/
MIKI HOUSE global site: mikihouse.com


MIKI SHOKO Co., Ltd. develops, plans, manufactures and sells family-related products for children, and its core brand is “MIKI HOUSE”. They pursue safety and secure children and make products that help them grow healthy every day. Miki House also focuses on education for parents, including providing information and seminars on topics like childbirth preparation and child-rearing.In August 2019, Shifter was introduced to the brand site of MIKI HOUSE. This time, we visited their head office in Yao, Osaka, and asked Ms. Kazuko Kousaka, the manager of the sales planning department, who is in charge of site management and content creation, about the background of the introduction of Shifter and the impression after use. The facilitator for this interview was Fumito Abe, CEO, Creative Director, and Design Engineer at Necco.



Shifter Implementation

First, we will introduce an outline of the implementation. MIKI HOUSE has 3 core brand sites, each of which has 2 versions, each in Japanese and non-Japanese (English and Simplified Chinese). So, the total number of sites was 6. Since brand and language used a seperate WordPress install, Ms. Kousaka and the staff members, took a lot of time and effort to create and update content. We proposed Shifter to them and they decided to adopt it.

Target sites

MIKIHOUSE Baby
(Japanese / English / Traditional Chinese / Simplified Chinese)
mikihouse-baby.mikihouse.com

MIKI HOUSE Boys & Girls
(Japanese / English / Traditional Chinese / Simplified Chinese)
mikihouse.mikihouse.com

MIKI HOUSE DOUBLE_B
(Japanese / English / Traditional Chinese / Simplified Chinese)
double-b.mikihouse.com

MIKI HOUSE Wear and Goods for school interviews
(Japanese)
interview.mikihouse.co.jp

MIKI HOUSE DOUBLE_B
(Japanese / English / Traditional Chinese / Simplified Chinese)
double-b.mikihouse.com

MIKI HOUSE Wear and Goods for school interviews (Japanese)
interview.mikihouse.co.jp


What we did

Introducing Shifter.
The sites are updated twice, in spring / summer and autumn / winter, so the WordPress dashboard is used only during that time.WordPress core updates are automated on the Shifter side, so no maintenance costs are required.

  • Step 1: Organize URLs

Organize URLs of 4 brands to implement a multilingual site plugin. 

  • Step 2: Integrate sites by brand

Multilingual site conversion plugin Polylang is applied in the development environment to integrate sites in each language for each brand. 

  • Step 3: Migration to Shifter

Migrate the integrated sites to Shifter and make them static. 

  • Step 4: Shifter introduction support

Since there were changes in the workflow due to Shifter’s implementation to multiple sites and the implementation of multilingual sites this time, we helped MIKIHOUSE to start using Shifter as smoothly as possible with the introduction of support using Backlog and Zoom.



Creating a brand that is expressed not only through appearance but also the atmosphere of the workplace.

MIKI SHOKO Co., Ltd., which has a huge presence in a quiet residential area, has a flagship store with all the brands of MIKI HOUSE on the basement floor. A variety of products such as seasonal products, childbirth preparation products, newborn goods, gifts, books, toys, school bags, etc. are beautifully displayed here, and there is a playroom and rest space for children so you can shop in a relaxed manner with your family. You can also take a break at the central cafe. According to Ms. Kousaka, many customers come from far away and abroad, not only from the local area.

Kazuko Kousaka: The products currently displayed are from the Fall / Winter 2019 collection. The model photos were taken under my team’s direction.

Seiji Akatsuka: Every photo looks nice. I know MIKI HOUSE has operations overseas, but did you take the photos in Japan?

KK: Yes. The photo shooting was done in Tokyo. It is also our team’s mission to take good pictures that correctly deliver our brand message posted on the site. Therefore, we create and send content by ourselves so that even people from overseas can understand our brand message. The model is selected by audition from about 100 candidates including babies. Our staff members always take  care of models and parents so that they feel happy to work with MIKI HOUSE. There are many models who have foreign nationalities because their parents come from abroad for their business.  An American mother whose daughter worked as a MIKI HOUSE’s model once gave me a letter saying, “I had a really enjoyable experience. Also, my daughter was happy.” I was very happy and I realized that “what we have done for them was not wrong.”The photos show everything up to the air. Therefore, good communication and happy relationships between staff members and the models are also important. We want to express not only that “this baby is cute” and that “these clothes are nice”, but also a happy atmosphere as a brand through the photos.

SA: Your customer experience is well designed. I feel that MIKI HOUSE is making extraordinary efforts to accomplish that. I believe that it has an effect on the propagation power.

KK: Thank you very much. We try to make a reasonable schedule so that the models can perform well. Furthermore, the staff members have their own roles so that they can check the conditions of the models and moms and quickly share, consult, and resolve their “worries”.


SA: I think your staff members have been thoroughly taught about those ideas. There is no contradiction between MIKI HOUSE’s earnest working attitude when it comes to manufacturing and the way you work on the photography set.


KK: I chose DigitalCube because I felt you shared the same value with us.. I thought you would have excellent customer care. In the other company’s case, the service seemed very interesting and I knew that the system was well organized, but sometimes when I actually communicated with those who are in charge, it turned out like “Hmm. I might be wrong.” However, DigitalCube had no such contradiction. As for the interaction, I thought that everything would be online at the beginning.. I was worked because Mr. Akatsuka is usually in Yamagata and he is sometimes not even in Japan. However, he came to our headquarters and answered our amateurish questions well. I was also relieved because he continued to follow up until just before the release of the new site.



After introducing Shifter, not only the amount of work but also the psychological burden on the staff members has decreased.

SA: What changes have you noticed since you started to use Shifter?

KK: The language switch button makes it very easy to update content. Until then, there were multiple URLs and they were confusing, but now we can find a list and a checkmark, so we can see at a glance what we are doing now. 

Hiromichi Koga: If you work differently from site to site, you get confused. You don’t know how much you work you have done, and even get lost.

KK: That’s right. In the past, there were things happening like publishing a post and “It’s still in Japanese!”. However, after introducing Shifter, previewing became so convenient. Some of our staff members are not familiar with using the site but get used to it very quickly.

SA: Until the introduction of Shifter, in addition to updating content, there was an update for each site. If you get an update notification before your work, you may have psychologically burdened. 

KK: Yes. Previously, there was an update notification, so I updated it, then everything was gone. Even though I decided on the release date and announced it to our customers … it was really bad. In the end, the production company recovered in a day, though since then, I had been thinking about how we could have worked more easily and comfortably with WordPress, and I was finally able to meet DigitalCube.

SA: When I heard that the catalog was updated twice a year on the collection site,  I thought “This is it!” and recommended Shifter. I was convinced that Shifter would be the best match for you. 

KK: Thanks to you, I can work with peace of mind. Creating a safe environment is very important.

Do you feel that the movement of the site and management screen is faster than before?


KK: Yes, it’s moving smoothly now. Until then, there were too many editing screens, and the work was complicated. It could be better only dealing with photos, but there is a large amount of information in the text, and it is necessary to add links one by one … and the work was diverse and complicated. Of course, it is necessary to publish the correct information, so proofreading is also necessary. Compared to before, things are really improved now.

HK: In the past, WordPress files existed separately, so you had to update the text and photos separately in three places. I think that the amount of work has been greatly reduced just by putting them together in a multilingual site.


It is so convenient now that even if you make a mistake, you can roll it back. 


KK: That’s right. The burden at the time of release has also been reduced. Previously, in the case of 10 o’clock release, it was on standby from the latter half of 9 o’clock and sites were released one by one …I’d been thinking many times about asking a production company to make sites statically, but then we would run out of time. When going through the man-hour cost and the amount of money, I couldn’t make the decision.

 HK: When you ask a production company, you have to have the person in charge understand all the data in the catalog, and you need to check it many times. For your company, 3 brands and 4 languages, so millions in labor costs fly away every month. 

KK: Yes. Thankfully, the content we created is viewed by people all over the world. We can create our perspective of the world unique to MIKI HOUSE, take high-grade photos, and the customers enjoy them. Some overseas customers say “Please give me everything I can see here.” The effect of the photos is amazing. Even if you don’t have any product at hand, you can still feel that it is “cute”.



We want to share our production stories unique to MIKI HOUSE.

What kind of content do you want to create in the future? 

KK: Now, you can only see the photos, but we want to include “production stories” in the content. In our company, we design our products by ourselves. The most important thing is to manufacture the products that put children first. Because our products are for children, they must feel soft and comfortable to wear, easy to move, and look cute. For that reason, the selection of materials is more important than anything else. So, every single fabric is our original. We pay special attention not only to the materials but also to comfort. For example, even with a pair of pants, it is difficult to see the difference just from the outside, but we sew the bottom of the buttocks deeply to fit the shape of the child’s bottom. In fact, if you put a curve, you will waste part of the fabric, so you can cut it straight. However, MIKI HOUSE makes sure to make a really excellent product without compromising fit and comfort We have been facing the question, “What is really good for children” for about 50 years since our founding.

SA: That’s how MIKI HOUSE Quality is made. I once gave MIKI HOUSE’s Imabari towel to a friend, and he was very happy and said, “It’s so comfortable to use”.

KK: I’m happy to hear that. Gift items such as towels and bath ponchos are also popular. These gifts later led to customers choosing our clothes. ** Akatsuka: ** Everything is a touch point with customers.

MIKI HOUSE creates visuals based on the concept of each one, so it seems interesting to pick up the products and introduce them in detail, as well as content that shows the manufacturing story step by step. Various ideas are likely to be born. 

KK: Yes. we want to create exciting content that will make customers happier. We want something that can be easily seen on smartphones.


By solving problems on the site, unexpected by-products were also made!

This time, Shifter was introduced to solve the problems that MIKI HOUSE used to have, are there any other improvements?  

KK: Yes, the amount of work has been reduced, so labor costs and other costs have dropped significantly. I can’t say it loudly, but I’ve paid XX million yen every month for the update and operation costs of all the sites. 

All: Emmmm !! 

Would you say this is a paradigm shift by Shifter?


KK: Yes (laughs). Shifter is perfect for us, and it means that we have a lot of bonuses when you solve the problems. We are really happy to meet DigitalCube! 

SA: We are glad to be of service! Please feel free to contact us if you have any comments or questions in the future. We also want to know what customers don’t understand, so I’d be happy if you could give us feedback. Thank you for your time today.


Postscript

Fumito Abe from Necco

This time, DigitalCube asked both us and MIKI HOUSE about the introduction of Shifter and their experience so far. Necco is a company that focuses on branding design and website production. We work on thinking about how to showcase how brands are created through collaboration between companies. The reason why we were given the chance to be chosen from among so many famous IT reporters and writers is that we are able to tell the story from the perspective of creating customer brands and design, as well as the perspective from the producer side of an IT company. We felt it could be helpful to showcase the story of MIKI HOUSE and DigitalCube, the creators of Shifter, and to make it easier for the readers to read this article.

So, of course, we talked about Shifter, but what we were most interested in came down to three points. They were: 1. What MIKI HOUSE’s goals were for their website 2. What they achieved, and 3. How MIKI HOUSE will use the site for customers in the future”. We believe that we could best evaluate shifter through these three points.

As you can see in this article, Shifter’s product met MIKI HOUSE’s needs very well, so I think that there were many benefits that could make the website hosting costs more convenient, faster, and considerably reduced.

However, this is not the only benefit. Shifter was also able to introduce more convenience, speed, and ease to the operation of MIKIHOUSE’s sites. This allows them to take care of more important aspects of their business and be supported through the process. I think this makes for a good example of how Shifter, design and web creators help each other achieve our success.

Shifter, created carefully by DigitalCube, very much matched MIKI HOUSE this time. In addition to MIKI HOUSE’s website issues, there was a certainty that it would lead to future business development and results, which led to DigitalCube’s initial proposal to the introduction of Shifter as well as their thoughtful support. All of this speaks to why MIKI HOUSE moved their sites and are able to operate them so smoothly. I look forward to seeing more results in the future.


Facilitator: Necco
Photography: Fumito Abe, Necco
Sentence / Proofreading: Hitomi, Necco
Natsuinecco inc.
necco.co

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