Forest & Bird: Sales going through the roof with Storbie

Storbie Success Stories take a deep-dive into the businesses and the people selling online with Storbie. Learn how they achieved success, get inspiration for your online business and top marketing advice from online store owners who know their stuff!

We spoke to Jess Winchester and James Cameron from Forest & Bird, New Zealand’s leading independent conservation charity, who both shared valuable insights for business owners and charitable organisations. Read on to find out how Storbie has helped create a positive sales force for Forest & Bird.

The local solution

Major Gifts and Bequests Manager, Jess Winchester, is “lucky enough to be responsible for caring for our donors and supporters and corporate sponsors who want to make a big impact on conservation in New Zealand, and last year I also had the fortune to take on the management of the online shop.”

James Cameron’s role as Digital Consultant centres around building and developing technology and online solutions for Forest & Bird and their membership database. 

Forest and Bird previously operated an online store for a number of years using a custom solution that they had developed, “but it wasn’t really meeting the needs of our database and our users. It was also difficult to administer and operate from an operational point of view,” according to James. “So we started looking around for a new solution, and we wanted one that would enable us to have more products online, be easier to use and to sell more of our products as well.”

“One of the big things for us was the fact that Storbie is local, and it’s a New Zealand product. We definitely believe in supporting first and foremost New Zealand products, but also when we looked deeper into Storbie we realised that it offered all the features that we were looking for too so there was no compromise. And the beauty as well is that we have Storbie right across the road from our head office so we could meet with them and have a personal relationship with the guys that were providing the software.” – James Cameron

What Forest & Bird uses the online shop for

James: We primary sell products that either support or offer some sort of natural fit with our constituents and our memberships, that might be memberships themselves, it might be toys and gifts and clothing that some of our members either contribute or provide.

Jess: We try and make [merchandise] seasonal if we can, so around Christmas time, for the first time, we were able to offer Christmas gifts and decorations which went really well.

We offer products that relate to our campaigns, for example supporters can adopt a penguin and have a toy penguin, a fact sheet about the penguin habitat, and also know that their contribution is going to support penguin conservation in New Zealand.

We also sell t-shirts and hoodies, and it gives us an opportunity to work with our corporate sponsors, so a number of them have enabled us to sell their products through our online shop which is another way of working more closely with them and raising even more funds for conservation.

 

Ways to promote the online shop

James: We’ve got a really strong social media presence. We’ve got a really large Facebook page, big Twitter following, and we like to regularly keep in touch and offer those supporters and followers, not only information on our projects and campaigns, but also keep them aware of the things that we’re selling because at the end of the day our products help support the great work we do in the conservation space, so it’s really important that we get those out there through social media.

We also have a strong email campaign, our database of email supporters. So again, it’s a perfect natural fit to communicate to them in a digital means and then direct them to our web shop, it’s nice and easy for them to buy.

Jess: And what’s really great is that we’ve noticed that every time we do online activity we get a spike in visits to the store and a little flurry in activity around purchasing.

The reaction to the new Forest & Bird shop

Jess: I think the new shop has really lifted our game. It’s bright, it’s easy to use, supporters love it, our sales have gone through the roof.

James: It’s been really positive, the staff have found it really easy to use. It’s certainly got all the features that we require. The shop interface itself is really user friendly, from the regard that we’ve been able to brand it to entirely reflect our brand guidelines.

Jess: Everyone’s really proud of the way it looks, so we get a lot of comments around the design of the shop, but also the functionality, so people are clearly finding it really easy to use.

James: We’ve had feedback from our shoppers and our users that the checkout process is nice and simple. So in terms of from where we came from, to where we are now with Storbie, it’s been a big improvement.

Jess: We’re not getting half as many enquiries as we used to because the problems that they were finding with our old shop aren’t there anymore. So it’s just a really positive experience and I think we’re really pleased that we made the move to Storbie.

James: And that’s resulted in a lot more sales for us. So just streamlining that process and making it easy for people to shop has directly resulted in more sales.

 

 

Forest & Bird triples sales on Storbie

“Our sales have gone literally through the roof. Our annual target was smashed within the first three months of the shop going live. And we’re just predicting more and more growth.” – Jess Winchester

James: We’re easily three or four times up on turnover compared to our cut-off date for our old shop, so that’s definitely been a factor of the technology behind Storbie and the fact that it’s easy to use.

It’s also been the fact that we’ve now got something that we’re really proud of to promote and share, so we’ve been able to send more marketing to it with the confidence that that’s going to turn into sales. Whereas previously our previous solution we were slightly more reluctant to advertise it and promote it because we couldn’t always have full confidence in the fact that it was going to work as intended.

Storbie’s ease of use

Jess: I find it really easy. I’m not the most technical person but it’s very intuitive, it’s simple to upload new pictures, to add new products, to monitor sales. I love the fact that you can open up the overview and see your total sales to date. It’s really motivating and you know we were sort of fighting within the team to be the first person to open up, especially around Christmas, to see what sales were doing.

Future plans for the Forest & Bird shop

Jess: Going forward we really want to expand our range. We know there’s a big demand for environmentally friendly and sustainable products, people look to Forest & Bird to be the leaders in this and to show them what products they should be buying. So I think down the track you’ll probably see us selling more things like the drinking bottles, so people don’t have to buy plastic water bottles, we’ll be selling re-useable bags. All sorts of products. I saw something really innovative which was jandals that were made from plastic that was collected and recycled from the beaches, so that’s a really practical link to our campaigns, we’re all about getting plastic out of the environment at the moment and that would be great to see in our shop range.

James: For the most part it centres around getting more and more products and promoting those so we’ve noticed that since we’re put more effort into our online shop, we’ve had more product enquiries from suppliers and our membership and constituents sending us ideas for product so it’s really good from that perspective as well because it’s encouraging some of our members and people in our branches around the country to look closer at the products that they can get hold of or supply to us that would fit with what we’re about.

I’d definitely say go for it. If you’re looking for an ease of use end to end solution that’s well supported, then Storbie’s the product for you. The support at Storbie’s been really good, nothing’s a problem. We’ve got a great personal relationship with Storbie and that’s translated into a product that works really well for us. – James Cameron

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