Thursday, May 27, 2021

CASE STUDY: The Company Teachers Trust Gets a Helping Hand from Shopbox

ABC School Supplies sees a 333% uplift in conversions

The company

Based in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, ABC School Supplies provides a portfolio of around 22,000 separate products to educational establishments from early years to higher education. These include furniture, arts and crafts supplies, books, learning resources, PE and sports, cleaning equipment and much else besides. Around half of all items are held in stock in the warehouse and 90% of these can be delivered within two days anywhere in Ireland, north or south. Moreover, in recent years, ABC School Supplies has expanded its business across continental Europe.

The challenge

An important aspect of ABC School Supplies’ brand proposition is embodied in the company tagline, “The Company Teachers Trust”. Over the years ABC have become experts in their core areas by working with educational professionals to make practical and innovative resources available for the school, the classroom, educational specialists and parents. The portfolio includes some of the most recognised names in education.

Around 65% of business now comes through the company website. “It was already increasing rapidly, and the pandemic gave online business a further boost,” said the company’s founder and CEO, Brian Higgins. In fact, ABC School Supplies moved into its new premises just before the first lockdown. “Three weeks later every school in Ireland closed down and for a while, the situation looked very grim,” Higgins recalled.

In fact, after a difficult first few weeks, things picked up and ABC Supplies ended 2020 with a modest increase in sales, despite schools being closed for 70% of the year.

However, with the shift to online sales there was an opportunity to do more, so when Higgins was introduced to Shopbox by existing customers in very different sectors, he could see the potential.

The implementation

“I was impressed at just how quickly and easily we got Shopbox installed and up and running,” Higgins said. “We have been using an open source ecommerce platform, WooCommerce. Our technical consultant Joe Hunter had Shopbox integrated with the platform within a matter of minutes, just by following instructions sent by email.”

Where customers are using Shopbox ABC School Supplies is seeing a 46% uplift in order value and a 333% increase in order conversion. “It’s an incredible difference,” Higgins commented. “With Shopbox we are getting shoppers’ attention early on their shopping journey.

“Previously we had a bounce rate that was about average for the industry, meaning that a lot of customers were looking at us and then perhaps going elsewhere. Now people are staying on the site longer. And the beauty is that when they return Shopbox remembers what they last looked at. This clears one of the biggest obstacles to customers finding what they want and making a purchase.”

Dual use

ABC School Supplies staff are also making good use of Shopbox, especially the less experienced telephone sales assistants. “Because we are chiefly business-to-business, our customers, who are primarily teachers, generally know more about what they are looking for than we do, even if they don’t know the exact product. So, when we get a call, it is useful for our assistants to be able to look at similar items before making recommendations.”

For example, perhaps a teacher is looking for arts and crafts activity books for a certain age range. Shopbox can help the assistant to guide a teacher to a good range of offerings. Or they might be looking for products for an individual child with very particular needs, such as a motor disability. “When we started up in business and had a limited product range this was not an issue, but with 22,000 items, Shopbox is proving to be a great helping hand,” Higgins said.

There is ample scope to do more. “It’s early days so we are just building awareness of the new Shopbox facility. As more customers start taking advantage of it, I am convinced that this will have a major impact on revenues,” he added.

“What I really like about Shopbox is that it engages with customers at the early stage of the shopping journey. Before Shopbox it took  on average six visits to the website before a customer decide on a purchase, with Shopbox that figure drops to an average 2.8 visits, largely thanks to the ‘Recently Viewed’ feature,” Higgins concluded.


Alan Gormley