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Howards Storage World - An Australian Retail Company that Helps to Keep Homes and Workplaces Organized and Decluttered


149%38%44%
increase in
revenue
increase in
conversion rate
increase in users



Performance metrics compares April 19-May 3, YoY for 2019 and 2020.


Standing the Test of Time

In the early 1970s Les and Edda Howard had a business idea to help people live a more organized life. What started out as a single shop known as Stack and Store in the Sydney suburb of Northbridge is now more than 30 owned and franchised stores across Australia that make up the Howards Storage World business.

If it could be said a company can endure the roughest of roller coaster rides, it can be said of Howards Storage World. The company started small and modestly, grew significantly, downsized through restructuring, and now is thriving by executing on its motto: Quality Products. Range of Choice. Stellar Customer Service. These three pillars have helped Howards Storage World stand the test of time.

From Backroom to BigCommerce

As told to BigCommerce by Henry Uen, Howards Storage World, Chief Operating and Financial Officer.

I’ve been with the company for seven years and have seen it go through a fair bit of change during this time. When I started, the company’s ecommerce business was a backroom sort of exercise, literally.

At the time it was a reasonable system, but it had the usual constraints that come with a bespoke system, so making it flexible and easy to search was hard. The linkages to our existing systems weren't very dynamic, and therefore maintaining information wasn’t connected. The customer journey was, for want of better words, restrictive, SEO wasn’t optimized, and it wasn’t a cloud-based application. These were all the reasons we were looking to improve and unify the platform.

We had a lot of antiquated and end-of-life systems and knew if we were going to continue to grow the business we needed to modernize our platform.


As told to BigCommerce by James Harvey, Howards Storage World, Ecommerce Operations Manager.

I’ve been with the company over four years and I've seen a fair bit of that change Henry talked about. When I came on it was still quite a backroom operation. But, interestingly enough, the online side of the business was showing solid growth that was outpacing our brick and mortar stores.

For quite a while we had been trying to figure out what we could do to improve the operation and performance of our proprietary platform. We went through a few iterations trying to redevelop it ourselves, but it just didn’t work out. Then we discovered BigCommerce.

Dealing with the Issues Head On

As told to BigCommerce by Henry Uen, Howards Storage World, Chief Operating and Financial Officer.

We decided we wanted to transform our business and change our ecommerce website, including the back-end ERP and point-of-sale system we’d been using. Those changes entailed a broader change to multiple other systems: our member reward program, our product master applications, and so forth. Our objective was that a new platform would make things easier and more unified.

We looked at multiple platforms. After consideration of options, we selected Amblique, the digital commerce consultancy, and BigCommerce as our partners to work with us to replatform our website.


As told to BigCommerce by Stephanie Byrne, Amblique, CEO.

We were very excited when Howards Storage World selected Amblique to facilitate their digital transformation. When Henry and James came to us, it was clear that their current infrastructure wasn’t meeting their needs. The user journey wasn’t intuitive, which made it hard for users to search and shop online. Furthermore, they were limited in their ability to create rich content experiences that would allow them to share aspirational lifestyle and organization stories. The company was also faced with the conundrum of experiencing online growth with a platform that was unable to scale. The opportunities were plentiful and we knew we were the right partner to help Howards Storage World to seize them.

It was our mission to upgrade Howards Storage World’s online presence to deliver a highly-functional, intuitive user experience that encompassed the ethos of the organization with smart navigation and a heavy focus on customer loyalty.

Going with BigCommerce eliminated the need for concern about hosting or security, because both were included with the platform. Also, BigCommerce is a more cost effective, flexible solution that allows for massive content opportunities Howards Storage World didn’t have before. On top of that, BigCommerce is easy to maintain with a small internal team, allowing the Howards Storage World team to focus on innovations that will set their online experience apart rather than having to spend their time worrying about the day-to-day operations.

“BigCommerce is a more cost effective, flexible solution that allows for massive content opportunities Howards Storage World didn’t have before.”Stephanie Byrne, Amblique, CEO

Getting Some Help Along the Way

As told to BigCommerce by James Harvey, Howards Storage World, Ecommerce Operations Manager.

Knowing we were going to be increasing our following, we were very aware that we needed to have a few apps and tools in place that would allow for more efficiency. The openness of the platform made things much easier for us because BigCommerce marketplace has proven to be a pretty good resource in finding reliable apps that are helping us run the day-to-day business operations.

Without having a connection to our ERP just yet, we're using a combination of apps to bare auto-management, so the first simple one is Printout Designer. We have used it mainly for designing a warehouse pick slip document for order processing and fulfilment in the warehouse. It’s a very flexible tool with an easy-to-use interface that allows us to put product, customer, order and store data onto the documents.

Also, we're using ShipperHQ for the freight calculation on the site and different delivery options. We’ve integrated Starshipit to do the actual shipping of the orders and the carrier selection. It’s actually integrated into various carriers we use here in Australia.

We're using Re:amaze for live chat on our site, and as a part of that we've got built-in prompts. It’s not a full chat bot, but some auto prompts and a built-in FAQ, which we're continuing to populate.

Shogun Page Builder was used for our homepage and a few custom webpages. At the moment, Omnisend is mostly being used for transactional-based emails.

The big one behind the scenes is Jasper PIM, which drives the full product catalog onto the site. Being an enterprise solution, we can build out a very rich catalog of information of all our 2,000+ products and nearly 4,000 SKUs. It’s particularly important for our range because people are looking for all sorts of different solutions by dimensions, product type, and so on.

“The openness of the platform made things much easier for us because BigCommerce marketplace has proven to be a pretty good resource in finding reliable apps that are helping us run the day-to-day business operations.”James Harvey, Howards Storage World, Ecommerce Operations Manager

Being an enterprise solution, we can build out a very rich catalog of information of all our 2,000+ products and nearly 4,000 SKUs.James Harvey, Howards Storage World, Ecommerce Operations Manager
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Marketing Matters

As told to BigCommerce by Henry Uen, Howards Storage World, Chief Operating and Financial Officer.

When it comes to marketing, we're on our journey of transition to where we want to be. It's not fully in place yet, but by changing platforms we have been able to grow faster in terms of sign-up of new members and customers. 

Most of our marketing is through direct marketing channels so we have a member loyalty program and application that has several hundred thousand members that we're communicating to through electronic direct mail (EDM).

We utilize Facebook and Instagram, and have made the connection between those platforms and BigCommerce so customers can shop through them back to the website. That's part of the reason we chose an open platform like BigCommerce. It gives us the ability to leverage the disconnected marketing and application tools to make them work for us.


Staying Focused. Getting the Job Done.

As told to BigCommerce by Henry Uen, Howards Storage World, Chief Operating and Financial Officer.

From my perspective, the project ran exceptionally well. Amblique is very professional and detail-oriented. They added value to the design and structure and, just as importantly, helped us stay on track to get to launch in less than six months. I don’t believe we could have made it any sooner without their design and project management expertise.

I knew going in that they manage their projects really tightly and they want to work very closely with us on all aspects of deployment. It was all about making sure the broader strategy was being successfully achieved.


As told to BigCommerce by James Harvey, Howards Storage World, Ecommerce Operations Manager.

Amblique was great. They were key in working with us to integrate several key features into the platform and modify design aspects like:

  • Consolidated wishlist to give customers the option to add products to their wishlists.
  • Rewards program to reinforce the exclusivity and benefits of being a member through a connected rewards experience that includes tailored shopping experiences, member pricing and customer coupons. 
  • Mega menu navigation to give customers a varied overview of the different subcategories that they can shop from in both a visual and textual manner.

Going through the whole scoping for the project, and then during the actual build and testing process, the communication between us and Amblique was great. And internally, I could tell the same was true between Amblique and their development team as they were very quick to test, fix and re-test. Everything went quite smoothly. I’m very happy with the outcome.

“We utilize Facebook and Instagram, and have made the connection between those platforms and BigCommerce so customers can shop through them back to the website. That's part of the reason we chose an open platform like BigCommerce.”Henry Uen, Howards Storage World, Chief Operating and Financial Officer

Making Time for a Better Life

As told to BigCommerce by Henry Uen, Howards Storage World, Chief Operating and Financial Officer.

We're focused on making sure we unveil that next level of groundwork and system unification. It’s critical for us to deploy our ERP, click-and-collect and inventory transparency process this year.

We are aware of additional functionality with BigCommerce including multi-currency. We have had overseas brick-and-mortar operations previously. At some point we would like to be able to make the site open to multi-country activities. We still know that we're getting inquiries from different countries for our brand and products.

We are on an exciting and great customer journey and growth path and really look to be a company that provides the breadth of organization and storage products for people at home or in business. We’ll continue to provide quality, service and great products so our customers will not feel stressed by having to manage clutter. And that's really what we're about, making it easy for people to find products and solutions that help them organize their homes, be decluttered, and just have more time for a better life.

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