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Savannah Bee creates industry buzz with BigCommerce

Why the honey brand left Magento to experience sweet success with enhanced site navigation and integration with Springboard Retail


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The Savannah Bee Company success story

Ted Dennard grew up on Saint Simons Island in Georgia, and was introduced to beekeeping as a kid. While serving in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, Ted participated in some beekeeping instruction and continued to keep bees after returning home.

He began giving his honey to family and friends as gifts, and a friend who owns a gift shop in downtown Savannah offered to sell some of Ted’s tupelo honey in his store. When the honey grew in popularity at the store, Ted saw the potential, took a big risk, and officially launched Savannah Bee Company.

At first, he was bottling the honey in his kitchen by hand and applying the labels to the bottles himself. He eventually outgrew his kitchen and moved into a small facility on Oatland Island in Savannah which offers a nature preserve.

Ten years ago, Ted opened his first retail store in downtown Savannah, followed by a second retail location. Soon, Ted acquired a warehouse on Wilmington Island that became the company’s corporate headquarters along with a showroom store.

Today, the company sells a wide assortment of products including artisanal honey, beauty, apparel, totes, books, beverages, and home goods in its thirteen 12 stores and at over 2,000 retailers including Neiman Marcus and Kroger Whole Foods.




BigCommerce proves more intuitive than Magento

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

I started at Savannah Bee Company about eight years ago. After working at newspapers for almost 20 years, I was burnt out and needed to make a change. When I started, I was helping in the showroom for the holidays and I really loved it.

When the holidays ended, I asked Ted if there was any job I could have. I told him I didn’t care what I did, I will clean the bathrooms, I just want to stay here. I really believed in the company and I wanted to see it succeed.

Luckily, Ted agreed and I started doing a lot of odd jobs that needed to be done. I started packing web orders and making local wholesale deliveries. I helped with customer service calls and organized some of our warehouse space. I also handled special orders that eventually grew to what is now our Corporate Gift channel.

Eventually, the website grew to be big enough that I became the shipping manager and held that position until 2017, when the ecommerce manager left. I decided I was up for the challenge and was promoted to ecommerce manager.

Our website launched nine years ago on Magento. It kept growing and growing and we started doing a lot more special orders. A lot of times, we would have orders for brides who wanted our honey as wedding favors or for corporate gifts.

Anyone who’s used Magento knows that it’s not very intuitive. Once I familiarized myself with things, it was a little easier to find my way but it’s really a beast.

When we decided to transition from Magento to BigCommerce, I happily welcomed the opportunity. I was really looking forward to something that could process just as much and had all the functionalities and things that I needed, but it was easier to use and understand more intuitively.

Gaining control over site changes with BigCommerce

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

We found there were constant updates needed with Magento. Any plugins you had or any kind of apps that you had running, might not work after the update. Then, you’d have to pay untold amounts of money to get those plugins updated, typically after a customer tried to use them and they didn’t work - leading to a loss of sales.

On Magento, we really didn't have much control over the site, but especially the home page. We could update things like product pages, but with the way it was set up, we couldn't update anything else. I couldn’t even access most pages.

If we had a new product, there was no way to really splash that across the top of our homepage. It was very static.

The ability with BigCommerce to be able to update and refresh the content on any page of the website, rather than strictly relying on a development team, is very useful for me.

Integration with Springboard Retail provides streamlined point of sale, inventory management, and order management

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

We considered Shopify when we decided to move from Magento; it was really close between Shopify and BigCommerce. Mainly we went with BigCommerce because it has a native Springboard integration. We use Springboard Retail for our retail stores, and that was a must.

BigCommerce and Springboard integrate seamlessly. This integration opened so many possibilities regarding how we connect our stores and our website.

Springboard makes it a lot easier for us on the backend. I used to use QuickBooks, but it was a little messy and manual. Now, if we have to transfer inventory from the stores to the website or vice versa, most of that backend fulfillment is easier.

"We found there were constant updates needed with Magento. Any plugins you had or any kind of apps that you had running, might not work after the update. Then, you’d have to pay untold amounts of money to get those plugins updated, typically after a customer tried to use them and they didn’t work - leading to a loss of sales."Andrea Burg, ECommerce Manager, savannahbee.com 

"Anyone who's used Magento knows that it’s not very intuitive. Once I familiarized myself with things, it was a little easier to find my way but it’s really a beast."Andrea Burg, ECommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

"BigCommerce and Springboard integrate seamlessly. This integration opened so many possibilities regarding how we connect our retail stores and our website."Andrea Burg, ECommerce Manager, savannahbee.com
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Inventory synced and product descriptions consistent across selling channels

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

We sell on Amazon and I recently created our Amazon storefront. Another part of BigCommerce that is super helpful and useful to us is the ability to list our products directly to Amazon.

We do have some items that are FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon): mostly lotion, wash, shampoo and conditioner or anything that is in a tube and doesn’t need packaging to protect it. But we also have a lot of glass jars. For that to be FBA, we would have to do so much prep work, which is simply not cost-effective. Therefore, we fulfill a lot of our products here that we sell through Amazon.

The fact that all of the inventory is synced and it's all connected to the BigCommerce store, especially the stuff that we fulfill ourselves, is so helpful and incredible that it’s all in one place.

We also have our Facebook shop, other social media channels and Google Shopping, which you can do right from the BigCommerce control panel. We don't have to have different product descriptions across those channels. If we change the product description, it gets updated everywhere.

Leveraging InStockNotify to convert more sales

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

One of the things that I've just recently added and love is InStockNotify. Within a couple days of adding it to our site, hundreds of people signed up for an email alert for items when they are back in stock. It has an average 20% conversion rate and only costs $18 a month! It’s the best investment I’ve made in the website so far.

I love it because right when something is back in stock, those people will be notified, and they come back and buy it. Instead of just hoping that they'll come back to buy what they were looking at, this almost ensures that they're going to return to our site and complete the purchase.

For example, people love our coffee. It was out of stock recently and we had over 50 people sign up for email alerts for when it would be back in stock. As soon as we restocked our inventory, it sold out that day.

Using InStockNotify gives our customers the assurance that we are looking out for them.

Utilizing Re:amaze help desk app for improved customer service

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

Another thing that is invaluable to us is Re:amaze the live chat and help desk app.

We did not have any kind of chat feature on our old website. In this day and age, when people have a question, they want it answered immediately.

Using Re:amaze feels like having a store employee greet somebody when they walk in the door and be able to answer any questions they have about the product they couldn’t figure out by reading the description.

Our customer experience team uses Re:amaze all day, everyday. We’re seeing people convert as customers because they’re able to get their questions answered right away.

In addition, you can make the little chat bubble say something different on the checkout page than what pops up on a product page. It makes our customer feel like we’re with you along the way in your purchasing process and we’re here to help.

We know that we’ve got to make our online experience as similar and consistent as we can to the experience you have in the store.

A platform to help explore and implement new ideas quickly and easily

As told to BigCommerce by Andrea Burg, Ecommerce Manager, savannahbee.com

When we were exploring ecommerce platform options, I was looking forward to something that could process just as much and had all the functionalities and things that I needed, but was easier to execute changes and ideas. Also, our entire site navigation is so much simpler and more seamless on BigCommerce.

We have now been able to do things that we weren't able to do before with Magento and one of those is gift certificates. Our customers can buy gift certificates online and use it in the store, or buy a gift card in the store and use it online. We were not able to do that before on Magento.

We're hoping next year to implement a loyalty program which will enhance the omnichannel experience. Customers will be able to buy products both in-store and online to earn points. While that kind of thing might be possible in Magento, I know this, among other ideas, are a lot easier to implement with BigCommerce.


"One of the things that I've just recently added and love is InStockNotify. I love it because right when something is back in stock, those people will be notified, and they come back and buy it. Instead of just hoping that they'll come back to buy what they were looking at, this almost ensures that they're going to return to our site and complete the purchase."Andrea Burg, ECommerce Manager, savannahbee.com 

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