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Case Studies







Case Study: How we Helped Australian Department Store Hannas Embrace Online Sales With an Ecommerce Migration to Shopify

When Covid-19 hit, family-owned department store Hannas had to pivot its business approach and embrace ecommerce. Find out how Swanky helped this Australian brand to replicate its in-store experience online with a new Shopify website and optimised tech stack.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy


  • We migrated the ecommerce site of Australian department store Hannas from Neto to Shopify to help the brand make the most out of online selling during the pandemic.
  • After a detailed assessment of business needs and future goals, we consulted on and implemented an optimised tech stack including Searchanise, Okendo, Gorgias, Klaviyo, Starshipit and SEO Manager.
  • Post-migration, we leveraged Shopify Markets to enable Hannas to sell into the UK and supported the brand with the move to Google Analytics 4.
  • Hannas now has an additional seven-figure revenue stream from online selling, with a solid digital foundation to power further business growth.

Hannas: Brand overview

Hannas is a third generation, family-owned department store based in Queensland, Australia. The company stocks north of 300 brands from around the world and has amassed a loyal and supportive customer base over its 7+ decades in business.

Its founder, Lebanese migrant Norman Hanna, moved to Australia in 1939. Starting out in business as a travelling draper, Norman serviced a huge swathe of regional Queensland from his red Chevrolet truck.

A decade later, having seen hard-earned success from his long years on the road, Norman opened the Hannas department store in Toowoomba.

Since then, plenty has changed for this independent family business, including the launch of an online store in 2019. Yet, one thing has remained consistent with the Hannas brand and the family behind it: their continued commitment to earnest, honest hard work and exceptional customer service. 

The challenge: A clunky Neto store not fit for purpose

In early 2020, the Hannas team approached Swanky to support them with an ecommerce migration. Specifically, they wanted to migrate their clunky ecommerce site from Neto to Shopify.

Whilst ecommerce had not always been a priority for Hannas, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the team to embrace digital in order to survive. With a need to grow online sales – and to do it quickly – the team were looking for a faster, more agile ecommerce platform that they’d be able to get to grips with easily.

Neto typically requires advanced coding knowledge and significant development support, which can often result in long delays making website updates or implementing new features – with the associated costs to match. Retailers on the Neto platform also speak of slow user support as a core frustration of the platform.

Shopify, however, with its code-free customisations, diverse ‘plug-and-play’ app store and extensive support offering, was the perfect fit for Hannas as they looked to navigate the complexities of online selling. The team would be able to implement on-site changes quickly and intuitively with the drag-and-drop interface, as well as leverage the trusted ecosystem of apps to easily add new functionality.

How Swanky helped

With a large inventory catalogue, limited knowledge of ecommerce and limited time, the Hannas team put their trust in Swanky to handle their store’s migration from Neto, and deliver a new Shopify website to support them through Covid lockdowns and beyond.

Each Shopify migration project at Swanky begins with a thorough discovery phase. In this case, we took time to understand the Hannas business, and the systems and processes that underpin it.

We assessed the brand’s existing tech stack and helped guide the team towards the technology that would allow them to deliver the same customer-centric experience online that they do in store. Not losing the distinct customer focus synonymous with the Hannas department store experience was something that the team were passionate about.

With inventory management taken care of by Cin7, Shopify managing the front end ecommerce CMS, and an effective combination of ancillary applications working to cover automated marketing, customer service, reviews and so on, we ensured Hannas was set up for long-term success.

Let’s explore behind-the-scenes of the Hannas Shopify store in more detail.

Building a winning ecommerce tech stack

Intuitive information architecture

With any large inventory ecommerce store, it’s crucial that you take steps to help consumers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Solutioning for this is not as simple as an application alone. Ecommerce operators need to set clear naming conventions for products, categories and variants. It’s also important to outline straightforward organisational structures to make administration as simple as possible.

As a standard part of Swanky’s discovery process, and leveraging our experience working with other large inventory businesses like Coes (an independent department store in the UK) and The Pulse Boutique (a US fashion boutique), we worked with the Hannas team to decide on standard filter and navigation structures, as well as the data to underpin them.

Tagging and product grouping rules were mapped and agreed to ensure that anyone in the Hannas organisation was equipped to help with future store management as required. 


Search and merchandising with Searchanise

On top of a solid information architecture, a search and merchandising platform can help provide shoppers with a streamlined route to purchase. Providing suggestive search functionality, filtration and personalised product recommendations in search results, an on-site search solution can quickly connect consumers with their desired products and increase the chance of conversion.

We discuss other benefits of advanced search functionality, whilst sharing tips for turning searches into sales, in our guide to site search best practices.

In the case of the Hannas website, we recommended and implemented Searchanise. You can see an example of the app’s filtration functionality below.


Building trust online with social proof and customer service

For retailers selling online, lack of interaction with consumers can often be a barrier to nurturing long-term brand-customer relationships. You can’t shake an online customer’s hand, for instance, and it can be challenging to guide someone through their decision making journey without having an in-person to-and-fro conversation. This can make it difficult to build rapport and trust.

However, there are tools and strategies available to help retailers overcome this barrier to conversion. When it comes to building trust online, we recommended two apps to the Hannas team.

The first of these was Okendo, which captures and displays product reviews. Effectively, these reviews do the talking for the Hannas team – highlighting product pros and cons to better inform future shoppers. We discuss the impact of reviews in more detail in this article on social proof.

Star ratings are also pulled through to product page information on SERPs, making an impact at this very early touch point in the customer journey.

Secondly, we leant on the Gorgias customer service platform to bridge the gap between the online and offline Hannas experience. While it’s not quite as personal as saying “g’day”, it does allow shoppers on the Hannas site to have a live chat with one of the Hannas service team during business hours, or to leave a message after hours.

Making your customer service team accessible like this is an effective way to boost trust amongst your website visitors and demonstrate your commitment to their shopping experience. Other benefits of stellar customer service include customer loyalty, increased retention and brand advocacy.

Gorgias also unifies enquiries from online forms, email or social media so that the Hannas team can chat to their customers, wherever they choose to contact them, from within a single system. They can also process returns and refunds directly without switching platforms, create draft orders and solve customer problems.


Driving income on autopilot with Klaviyo

As well as growing their topline revenue through paid marketing across Meta and Google, we recommended nurturing potential high margin sales via owned traffic channels like email and SMS. The ROI of email marketing can be significant if the strategy is executed effectively.

Our marketing specialists leveraged Klaviyo to set up automated email flows, as well as carefully crafted email campaigns. Ultimately, we wanted to ensure customers get a multi-touch introduction to the Hannas brand.


Starshipit for shipping and fulfilment

To ensure the Hannas team had a simple fulfilment interface and access to all the couriers they needed as their online sales ramped up, Swanky selected Starshipit as the most suitable fulfilment platform.

Integrating with key shippers in the APAC region like Australia Post, but also easily servicing international expansion for the future, Starshipit is a leader in the shipping automation space as evidenced by its work with CultureKings, PrincessPolly and LSKD.


Large catalogue management thanks to Cin7

As we touched on in the introduction, one of the biggest challenges for the Hannas team in running their ecommerce store is managing their large inventory catalogue. At any point in time, they can have between 6,000 and 10,000 live products, with their associated variants creating hundreds of thousands of independent SKUs.

To help them manage their inventory, Hannas uses Cin7 Omni. In addition to inventory management, Cin7 can take on order and feed management across channels like Amazon and Ebay, automate manual processes including replenishment across your business, and also automate reporting.


SEO best practice with SEO Manager

Integrated with Google Search Console, SEO Manager gives the Hannas team automated reporting, flags on 404s with suggested redirects for quick creation, and prompts on ways to improve their copy across product, page and blog page types.

This has proved to be an invaluable tool for a client leaning into digital in a significant way for the first time. 


Addressing an international ecommerce opportunity

After the initial ecommerce migration and tech stack consultation for Hannas, we have been proudly supporting the team with our suite of digital services.

For example, when inbound intent and enquiry from shoppers outside of Australia was identified, we were able to guide the team through the various options available for selling internationally on Shopify.

With Shopify launching Shopify Markets in 2021, we worked with Hannas to incorporate additional currency options to cater to international customers.

Since sales to the UK were enabled on the Hannas site via Markets, they have contributed 10% to digital revenues for the brand.

Navigating the sunsetting of Universal Analytics

More recently, we provided guidance and expertise surrounding the sunsetting of Google’s Universal Analytics and necessary migration to Google Analytics 4 (GA4).

Aware of the limitations of the Shopify native GA4 implementation, and wanting to ensure that Hannas has complete, actionable data available (not just for reporting but also to build comprehensive audiences for Google Adwords), we leveraged the Littledata app.

With its server side analytics implementation and thorough event tracking, we have found Littledata, over multiple implementations, to be the best of the Shopify-centric tracking platforms.

Project outcomes

After embracing online selling, Hannas now has an additional seven-figure revenue stream and sells outside its regional boundaries – opening up a far larger addressable market to drought-proof changes in the local economy.

The graph below, taken from Shopify Analytics, shows the company’s sales revenue trendline since the beginning of 2020.

Meanwhile, this next chart compares performance in the first six months of 2023 (solid line) with the first six months of 2022 (dotted line).

Since the beginning of our relationship with Hannas in 2020, Swanky has helped to prove the value of ecommerce to the business, giving the brand a solid digital foundation on which to accelerate their online growth.

Sharing his reflections on Hannas’ ecommerce migration and journey so far on Shopify, Sean Clanchy, MD of Swanky Australia, said:

“Again, Shopify has demonstrated why it’s the default platform of choice for both small, medium and large businesses. 

“Whilst some businesses have complex needs, the simple, familiar and easy to navigate admin and infrastructure that Shopify provides has again proven how easy it can be for brick and mortar businesses to unlock value from their inventory. 

“By keeping it simple, Shopify makes it easy to manage your store, allowing you to stay focused on your marketing.”

Looking for a Shopify migration agency?

Here at Swanky, we have years of experience delivering successful ecommerce migrations for ambitious brands like Hannas. We’ve helped other Australian retailers such as Silk Oil of Morocco, Veneta Blinds and Love Henry kickstart their journeys on Shopify, as well as international brands including Wilkinson Sword.

These migrations can unlock huge growth opportunities, whilst often reducing total cost of ownership.

To start a conversation around migrating to Shopify and the benefits it could bring your brand, please contact our friendly team of ecommerce migration experts.

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