New Website, Same Great Service: The CostumeBox Story

Born from the desire to branch further into the e-commerce realm after experiencing success with thatsmine.com.au, business partners, Roma Burke and Nikki Yeaman founded CostumeBox. The online costume and party supply store has evolved substantially since its inception in 2007, but Yeaman says the 25,000 plus product business isn’t ready to slow down just yet.

“Like many business ideas, CostumeBox was conceived to fix a problem we were having ourselves. Our kids were little and at that stage where they love to wear costumes, but the major department stores and smaller toy stores would have a few different costumes in one or two sizes. There was no one place you could find every character you might want in every size,” says Yeaman.

“We could see category killer costume websites operating in the US, and we felt that with our e-commerce experience and database of customers, we were well placed to bring the same concept to Australia.”

From its early days as a start-up in a small office and rented storage space, CostumeBox has grown into one of Australia’s biggest online costume providers. A far-cry from earlier iterations of the business, the online retailer’s expansion has seen it upgrade its website to accommodate continued growth plans, with the business’s founders learning a thing or two along the way.

CostumeBox has grown from 400 to 25,000+ products in a little over ten years.

“We were set up as a pureplay e-commerce business from the beginning, so we have always focused on using this medium to deliver the best experience possible to our customers… [Including] great logistics and enabling very fast dispatch and delivery,” Yeaman explains.

To make its online shopping model effective, Yeaman and Burke knew from day one that they would need to partner with the right solution providers. As such, the business works with dotdigital to send EDMs to customers, while also working with a custom-built ERP system to manage inventory and warehouse operations.

A fast, scalable and adaptable website platform is also an essential element of CostumeBox’s digital presence. Presently, Yeaman says CostumeBox is on Magento 2’s Enterprise Cloud System, but the company did have to go through a recent website revamp to get it to where it is now.

“The initial motivation to redo the website was that we were on a very old version of Magento 1 Community that was about to become unsupported. In upgrading to M2 enterprise, we took the opportunity to freshen the site with a more modern look and feel, and to address some issues around navigation that were hardwired into the old site design,” she explains.

Co-Founders Nikki Yeaman and Roma Burke.

During the site upgrade, CostumeBox prioritised UX, creating a more efficient way to separate its main product categories.

“A lot of attention was paid to navigation,” Yeaman says. “We have two main types of products on the website, costumes and party supplies, and the way you shop for each is quite different – we basically have two site structures within the one store.

“We also enlarged the images on product pages and sped up the checkout process. Overall, the site is now faster than it was before the revamp.”

With 65 percent of the website’s traffic and 55 percent of all traffic coming from mobile devices, the company ensured its site revamp would be mobile-friendly, much like everything the business does to improve the overall experience it presents to shoppers.

The Trends Influencing CostumeBox’s Growth Plans

While providing customers with an optimal mobile shopping experience is something that’s still front-and-centre for CostumeBox, Yeaman also highlighted other e-commerce trends that have caught her attention.

“Getting traffic to the website in an affordable way is probably the number one challenge faced by e-tailers. With the move to mobile, less and less of the screen is given over to organic listings and I think this will be creating a huge challenge for many businesses.  I think the opportunity ahead lies in fusing online and bricks-and-mortar retail channels into one cohesive experience for the customer.  As the overwhelming majority of all retail purchases still take place offline, I think there is a great opportunity for online brands [to develop] in that space,” she says.

“In 18 years of running e-commerce businesses, I have never gotten to the point where a website has been “finished”. We probably have three or four big projects on the go at any one time.

“Currently we are working on revamping our customer rewards system, our warehouse picking systems, and our postage systems.”

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