Howards Storage World – An Australian Retail Company

Howards Storage World

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 Ecommerce

As told to Big Commerce 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.

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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 Big Commerce 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 Designtech9Studio.

Dealing with the Issues Head On

As told to Big Commerce 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 Designtech9Studio, the digital commerce consultancy, and Big Commerce as our partners to work with us to re-platform our website.

By Designtech9Studio Team

We were very excited when Howards Storage World selected Designtech9Studio to facilitate its 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.

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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 Big Commerce eliminated the need for concern about hosting or security because both were included with the platform. Also, Big Commerce is a more cost-effective, flexible solution that allows for massive content opportunities Howards Storage World didn’t have before. On top of that, Big Commerce 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.

Getting Some Help Along the Way

As told to Big Commerce 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 the Big Commerce marketplace has proven to be a pretty good resource in finding reliable apps that are helping us run the day-to-day business operations.

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.

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