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How to Pull off a Heist in Women’s Underwear

(You read it right.)


15%12%100%
increase in organic/brand/direct search conversion rateincrease in average order value (AOV)increase in conversion rate in Germany (largest EUR market)



Metrics compare June 2018–May 2019 (pre-BigCommerce) to June 2019-May 2020 (post-BigCommerce).


Comfort and Practicality for All Women Everywhere

What woman hasn’t put on tights at some point in her life only to discover how uncomfortable and awkward they make her feel? They dig in, sag down and run, leaving them good for nothing but the trash can. In late 2015 Heist Studios, a UK-based underwear company, entered the scene to make the tight-wearing experience more comfortable and luxurious for women everywhere.

Think about it. It’s not your everyday underwear company that brings in leading garment scientists and innovators to redesign tights from scratch, but that’s exactly what Heist did. They redesigned the waistband to be wider and soft like yoga pants. The gusset in the middle was removed to eliminate sagging. And a much denser fabric was used to prevent snags and runs. As it turned out women liked the tights, which have become quite popular, especially in the UK.

Although the company sold only tights in its first two years of operation, Heist never planned to be a one-product shop. The company had serious plans for the future, and tights were an entry point to bring to market new products to liberate women from disappointing underwear. Bringing this vision to life, the company launched its first shapewear and underwear collections in 2017 and 2020, respectively.

Making Smart Investments

As told to BigCommerce by Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager.

I was a Heist product evangelist before I worked for the company. The tights are incredible and the underwear and shapewear are amazing. I know at the end of the day some will think of underwear as just something women put on, but it’s much more than that. Heist recognises the sacredness of our offering. We design our products with a type of reverence that women deserve for something they wear next to their skin every single day. And, it’s something I feel quite strongly about.

There’s no denying innovation, comfort and quality costs money. That’s why, for instance, our tights cost more, £30+, than the £5 tights that run after the second or third wearing. Heist tights can last a year or two and that makes all the difference. Although I don’t wear mine everyday, I've had the same pair of Heist tights since early 2018. They really are that good. As soon as women try them, they're asking themselves, “Why would I do this any other way?” It’s a smart investment for customers to make.

A smart investment we made was moving our ecommerce platform to one that could help us grow and manage our business. We had been doing our best to use our in-house, self-made platform, but we had outgrown it a long time ago. It was pretty impossible to get anything done, so we took a look at several platforms.

The Search Begins

As told to BigCommerce by James McCarthy, Heist Studios, Senior Developer.

When going through our evaluation process to determine what our needs and requirements were, we came across BigCommerce on Google. We reached out to our network of CTOs and found another startup that had evaluated a number of other platforms in great detail, including BigCommerce. Their feedback helped us narrow the field down to BigCommerce, Shopify Plus and Magento.

We eliminated Magento because it would require us to manage the infrastructure the platform would run on. We realised BigCommerce was the best choice over Shopify for a few key reasons:

  1. Transfer support to replatform on BigCommerce
  2. Platform support to enable true multi-currency product pricing
  3. Support received through replatforming and onboarding stage


As told to BigCommerce by Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager.

Multi-currency was a non-negotiable for us because we do have quite a large and engaged customer base, especially in the US, Germany and the Nordics. No matter where our customers are from we want them to feel recognised and as important as customers who live in the UK. So, enabling them to shop in their own currency was really important to us. Because BigCommerce enables us to offer a multi-currency option to our customers we’ve seen increases in the conversion rates for both Germany, our largest European market and the United States, our second largest market.

“Because BigCommerce enables us to offer a multi-currency option to our customers we’ve seen increases in the conversion rates for both Germany, our largest European market and the United States, our second largest market.”Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager
Heist recognises the sacredness of our offering. We design our products with a type of reverence that women deserve for something they wear next to their skin every day.Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager
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With the Greatest of Ease

As told to BigCommerce by Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager.

A testament to the ease of the platform is the fact that I don't have a web or product management background, yet I've been able to pretty seamlessly pick up launching products, running promotions, building coupon codes, and the like pretty quickly. We actually don't have a front-end developer on the team anymore. Our designer who has UI and UX experience gets the front-end job done quite well.

BigCommerce’s apps and integrations make operating our business run much more smoothly. For instance, Shogun Page Builder is our go to app for building and loading pages. Our FAQ and a couple of other pages on our site are Shogun pages. And it’s been brilliant because our designer has been able to do it all herself. We haven't needed any sort of agency or tech support on that, which has been great.

We also use the InStockNotify app. This app saves us time, but more importantly it saves us sales when a product is out of stock. A customer simply adds their email address to be notified when out of stock products are back in stock. When inventory is replenished the app automatically triggers emails to be sent to customers. Engagement with this app has been brilliant. Our most popular product of 2020, The Bralette, has sold out to the waitlist on two occasions, with more than 2,000 women signing up to be notified when it was back in stock in some cases!

Then there are those times when our affiliates ask for a large number of coupon codes. We use Coupon Importer to easily bulk create them and it works super well! I’ve used it whenever affiliate partners require 500 upwards to 1,000 unique codes.

Klaviyo is our email marketing app of choice and it’s great. It integrates to BigCommerce really well. Building segments through Klaviyo based on actions in BigCommerce is super easy and straightforward.

We run all our promotions through BigCommerce’s promotion tool on the platform. Since the start of the pandemic, we have run more promotions just to buoy us up a bit. It was something I hadn't ever run point on before, but the fact that I was able to pick it up or ask our Enterprise Account Manager, Karolina, questions here and there made all the difference in the world. But for the most part, just to be able to get on with it and do it all myself quite easily, has been really powerful.

“A testament to the ease of the platform is the fact that I don't have a web or product management background, yet I've been able to pretty seamlessly pick up launching products, running promotions, building coupon codes, and the like pretty quickly.”Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager

When Bursting at the Seams is a Good Thing

As told to BigCommerce by Daniela Nardelli, Heist Studios, Digital Marketing Manager.

Our plan for 2020 and beyond is to become more streamlined, efficient and automated and BigCommerce is integral to this. Where in the past we needed dedicated front-end and back-end engineers to make any small change, we are hoping to move to a model where I can fully manage our site with the support of our designer and copy experts. Personally, I am really excited to sink my teeth into Page Builder and continue to improve what is already a great site with the help of BigCommerce. It might seem odd for me to say this, but the ease BigCommerce has brought to our day to day operations and the impact it’s had on our team has, in my eye, outweighed the gains in revenue and traffic so far.

Our 2020 product roadmap is aggressive. This year, in one go, we've had three styles of knickers, one bralette, and a second collection of underwear come out. We’re releasing quite a few new styles of tights this year and potentially more shapewear.

From our one warehouse in the UK, we’ll continue to ship to 52 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe. Soon, we will begin shipping to the United Arab Emirates, making them our 53rd country we ship to.

The pandemic did slow down our growth, but since mid-May things have started to lift. The beginning of this year we started to expand into wholesale. There was a momentary lull, but I believe things are on an uptick. Aside from our own website, right now we sell online via Next as well as through Selfridges, a physical retailer. And once we’re definitively past the pandemic, we’ll get back to our plans for spinning out German and French websites.

Also this year, we are going to be releasing our first pair of sustainable fishnet tights, which are made from pre-consumer recycled fishnet. Additionally, we are going to be launching two core pairs of black sustainable tights that are not fishnets as well as a range of sustainable colored tights this Fall. We've also committed to all the tights that we bring out going forward being sustainable and slowly rolling into having only sustainable tights.

For 2021, let’s just say our design team and an aeronautical engineer are working to bring to market a new level of garment technology that will change how women think of underwear. Since our inception, we wanted to bring better underwear products to all women. We will keep our brand diverse and inclusive. What I mean by this is that women will have an array of products they can purchase that are built for all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. It’s really a great thing.

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