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Client Stories - Blackhearts and Sparrows

Wild & Wolf

Entering the world of Melbourne’s spirit

Independent wine retailer, Blackhearts and Sparrows started business in 2006 with the goal to make the world of speciality alcohol more accessible. Owned by two siblings, the brand is family oriented and customer centric with an absolute commitment to finding the right drink for the right person – on every occasion. Blackhearts and Sparrows is a rapidly growing business with urban boutique stores now in ten location across Victoria – as well as one in Tasmania and NSW. The move to online was a logical next step in the expansion plan for the business.

“Prior to implementing our eCommerce platform, we were 100% bricks and mortar retail. Whilst we had a presence on social media and via local print articles, there was no way for us to expand our reach to new audiences far and wide. This limited our ability to engage with customers and share our extensive product range and other information for the discerning connoisseur to generate sales outside of our store radius,” explained Zara Wilkens, CX and Online Manager for Blackhearts and Sparrows

The business was already a Pronto Xi ERP customer and decided to leverage Pronto Woven’s expertise to create an omni-channel retail strategy.

“Our entire business operations is on Pronto Xi ERP. Naturally it seemed like the right thing to do for the long run to work with Pronto Woven – both from a partnership point of view and also to ensure we avoid complex API builds and costs to integrate various systems. This way Pronto Xi remains our single source of truth,” said Ms Wilkens.

Uncorking the true flavour

Blackhearts and Sparrow’s previous online presence included a basic brochure website that just featured available products.

“Similar to the way our stores are individually designed, we wanted our online experience to convey the in-store feeling (be that colour, shape, style or placement) so that even if customers had never stepped into one of our physical stores, our website would really give them a sense of what it would be like,” Ms Wilkens explained. “We also knew that implementing an online solution that utilised the foundation of Pronto Xi would alleviate common challenges such as inventory management and enable us to excel in customer experience from click to delivery.”

With that cohesive vision in mind, Blackhearts and Sparrow’s design team utilised the flexible framework of Pronto Xi Avenue (Avenue) eCommerce platform to effortlessly infuse brand personality into their website.

“We wanted our online store to emulate our in store experience, from the way the products are placed on the site, their categorisation and the overall simplicity and ease to purchase a bottle of wine (or pack of beer). We understood that there were many capabilities that Avenue could offer but our first goal was to be able to give a well-rounded offering before heading down the path of additional options – such as click and collect, etc.” continued Ms Wilkens.

Key features and functions of the Blackhearts and Sparrow website include:

  • a showcase of the entire product range and filter for all specialist categories – as available in-store
  • a narrative blog to keep customers informed about supplier stories and new products
  • the ability to provide time limited offers and speciality products utilising Pronto Xi promotions engine
  • speedy data transfer processes so the product can be delivered to the customer’s door as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • gift card purchasing capability for customers to share the experience with family and friends

The integration between the Blackhearts and Sparrow ecommerce site and Pronto Xi ensures prices and stock availability is always real-time accurate. Additionally, valuable customer behaviour insights are gathered to help curate future campaigns – and this visibility extends from online to in store and staff can see any customer’s entire purchase history.

“It was important to us to be able to capture customer data, so Mailchimp and CRM were key components. It was also critical to show the endless possibilities of our range (past, present and future). SEO was also part of this bigger picture and how we saw our eCommerce offering growing, the URL and Category home pages were crucial in getting this off the ground and we have seen an incredible result from the work implemented here,” said Ms Wilkens.

Savouring the success

Blackhearts and Sparrow new ecommerce site helped them remain open for businesses to customers during Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions – and this resulted in an unexpected increase in demand.

“I was very thankful that we had a fully integrated solution in place whsen COVID hit. We were in a scalable position so when the increase in sales occurred we were able to cope– not saying that we did not have our fair share of stress during that period. On the day that they announced the first lock downs in March, we experienced a 400% increase in sales and our Pronto Woven eCommerce site worked perfectly,” Ms Wilkens said.

Staying true to their goal of making quality wine, beer and spirits more accessible to every customer, Blackhearts not only ensures the website offers their entire boutique range – they also provide fast delivery.

Ms Wilkens added, “Through this lockdown period, we implemented same day delivery through our own fleet of delivery drivers. When the second lock down rolled around, we had our same day delivery service in place and experienced a 270% sales increase as a result!”

With this level of sales, the business quickly outgrew their warehouse space.

“After almost 12 months of trading, we have seen a significant increase in our customer database, alongside a 69% return customer purchase rate. We have a 50% increase in our customer database since the launch of the website, with customers actively engaging in our dynamic marketing roll outs,” Ms Wilkens added.

With all of the insights gained, Blackhearts and Sparrow are now able to target and market specific products to match individual customer tastes. This further develops a personal touch and enhances customer experience through their digital platforms.

Ms Wilkens said, “Our brand awareness has improved and our credibility has been further solidified alongside our bricks and mortar reputation. Our online conversion rate has been exceptionally high since launching the website, proving to us that customers are finding what they are looking for when they land on our website!”

“It was a positive experience working with Pronto Woven as we were the first customer to go onto the updated version of Avenue, we were all learning as we went along. Our designer was always able to get support whenever it was required. When a few roadblocks that we needed to get our heads around arose, the communication was always clear so we could find the best way forward,” concludes Ms Wilkens.