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Case Studies







Case Study: The Custom Ecommerce Subscription Solution That Helped Whisky Loot Scale At Pace

Find out about the bespoke subscription and gifting solutions we developed for fast-growth Aussie brand Whisky Loot, plus how their swanky new ecommerce set-up on Shopify Plus helped them scale to new heights, fast.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy
Photograph of LiquorLoot subscription box.

Sydney-based subscription start-up Whisky Loot has seen steady growth in subscribers and revenue since first launching in 2016. The direct-to-consumer brand takes customers on a curated journey of discovery from whisky novice to connoisseur, all from the comfort of their own home.

Each month, subscribers receive a beautifully presented box of three tasting bottles direct to their door, with tasting videos available within their own custom online dashboard. There are yearly and monthly plans available, with the option to pause, skip or cancel a subscription at any time.

Let’s start our story at the beginning of 2020, when, after raising $400,000 in seed funding, founder Joel Hauer set out to take Whisky Loot to the next level.

Enter, Swanky.

Setting the scene

Prior to investing in a website upgrade, Whisky Loot’s ecommerce store was hosted on Shopify. Their subscription offering was initially managed by Bold Subscriptions, with all subscribers receiving the same box each month, no matter what point they were at in their subscription.

However, the Whisky Loot team wanted to change this so that customers could enjoy an expertly curated tasting journey, working through different whiskies in a specific order, from Box 1 through to Box 12.

A customer who signs up in January should receive Box 1 that first month, followed by Box 2 in February, Box 3 in March, and so on, whilst someone who starts subscribing in March should receive Box 1 then, Box 2 in April, Box 3 in May, etc.

With this new subscription model in mind, and a slick new site design from the talented team at Oliver Grace Creative Studio, Whisky Loot were on the lookout for an ecommerce agency to bring their vision to life on Shopify Plus.

How Swanky helped

Custom scheduling of subscription boxes

Our first port of call was to migrate the site’s subscription functionality from Bold Subscriptions to ReCharge.

We then created a bespoke app to handle the custom scheduling of Whisky Loot’s subscription boxes, allowing subscribers to receive the boxes in a specific sequential order.

Here’s Managing Director of Swanky Australia, Sean Clanchy, explaining a bit more about this custom app:

“As mentioned, Whisky Loot wants to take you on a journey from beginner to expert as you progress in your subscription. To make this happen, we worked closely with ReCharge and their software development team to build out a custom solution.

ReCharge provides some useful API documentation, so we were able to use that, along with some extra custom software to integrate between Shopify and ReCharge to switch out what the customer receives each month. The end tech stack included NodeJS, ReactJS, TypeScript, AWS, and Webhooks.

Additionally, each order that is created by ReCharge triggers the custom application to update the customer’s details and reflect these in their own unique Whisky Loot dashboard (which you can check out in the GIF below).

Users can see a progress bar showing where they are in their subscription, which types of whiskies they’ve already tasted and which whiskies are coming in their next box. They also have the opportunity to purchase bigger versions of the bottles they’ve already received.”

Whisky Loot’s new-look site with updated subscription functionality launched at the beginning of September 2020.

Bespoke gifting solution

Whisky Loot also offers the option of a gift subscription to treat the whisky lovers in your life to a special at-home tasting experience on a monthly basis. This is sent to the recipient in the form of a digital gift card with a unique redemption code.

We built a bespoke gifting solution from scratch to support this offering, which was released in time for the much-anticipated BFCM weekend at the end of November 2020.

Here’s Sean talking through how the gifting process works:

“First off, shoppers select which prepaid gift subscription they want to buy, with a choice between three months, six months, or 12 months. They then submit the name and email address of the recipient and can choose to include a message for a personal touch.

Once checkout is complete, our API makes use of a combination of Shopify, ReCharge and Klaviyo APIs to create a seamless gifting experience for the end-user. This includes providing the gift recipient with a custom redemption flow, to receive their gift paid in full.

This was a huge relief to Whisky Loot’s customer service team in particular, as they previously had to do a lot of this work manually.”

The seamless customer experience then continues post-purchase, with customers being notified of their order status from the moment their box is shipped all the way through to delivery, thanks to customised email notifications powered by ShipStation. Not only do these essential post-purchase emails maintain positive communication with customers (which increases the likelihood of retention), they help Whisky Loot to extend their brand presence end-to-end.

Filtered blog content

Another highlight of our project with Whisky Loot was the development of their “dram good blog”, which includes a range of guides, list articles and interviews about the world of whisky.

After some custom behind-the-scenes development work from Team Swanky, users are able to filter the blog content they see based on topic (e.g. events, gift guides, news, whisky bars).

This provides a user-friendly on-site experience that enables visitors to more easily engage with content that they’re interested in – thereby boosting confidence in the Whisky Loot brand and its products.

Impact on revenue and conversion rate

So, how did Whisky Loot’s new site, including their custom subscription and gifting solutions, impact key ecommerce metrics after launch?

When you compare revenue and conversion rate from 2019 to 2020, there was:

  • A 329% increase in revenue.
  • A 17% uplift in conversion rate (from 1.05% to 1.23%).

In December 2020, following the implementation of their bespoke gifting functionality, the conversion rate was boosted again to 1.69%.

By leveraging our experts’ wealth of development experience, as well as our partnerships with industry-leading technology providers like ReCharge and ShipStation, we helped the Whisky Loot team scale their brand at pace.

What happened next?

Whisky Loot’s 2020 investment in ecommerce and digital marketing (including their Swanky-built custom ecommerce subscription solution), combined with the unexpected boost in spirit subscriptions as a result of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, paved the way for some impressive business growth.

A second vertical

So much so in fact, that the team expanded into another liquor vertical and launched Gin Loot in December 2020, allowing customers to experience some of the world’s best gin from the comfort of their couches.

We were delighted to continue our collaboration with Joel and team, building yet another Shopify Plus store to fuel their subscription business.

Gin Loot subscriptions work in the same ways as their whisky counterparts, with gin tasters being delivered in a specific order, along with access to online educational material. Again, customers can access a personal dashboard and are able to cancel, pause or skip a box at any time.

Diversifying with retail partnerships

The growth has only continued in 2021, with the umbrella Liquor Loot business on track to double deliveries this year. Plus, the group secured AU$1.5 million in investor funding back in August, as well as expanding its retail footprint through partnerships with David Jones, Aldi and Qantas.

Just like the online subscription service, this in-store offering focuses on customer education. Each retail box includes six sample bottles, encouraging consumers to explore different spirits and get a taste for what they like before purchasing full-size bottles.

Speaking of the group’s retail expansion, CEO Joel Hauer told National Liquor News:

“That’s really where we see the Liquor Loot business evolving, into something that is omnipresent – it’s online, it’s offline, it’s in different retailers, and it provides you with a chance to trial, learn, and then purchase that full bottle because you’ve now got the trust in knowing what you enjoy.”

We can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store for Liquor Loot if their recent growth trajectory is anything to go by!

Your subscription ecommerce experts

Here at Swanky, we leverage our enviable experience in the field of subscription ecommerce to design, build and optimise tailored subscription strategies that deliver real results. Having completed three of ReCharge’s five biggest migration projects, it’s safe to say that we know the secrets to a successful subscription ecommerce website!

To find out more about how we could transform your subscription-based store, get in touch with our friendly team of Shopify Plus experts today.

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