Client: G.H. Bass & Co.


Sector: Retail

You’re in an interesting place as a business when you’ve been around since 1876.

Do you innovate? Or do you stick to your tried and tested tradition?

For G.H. Bass & Co., adeptly threading the gap between those two extremes have led them from success to success for almost 150 years in the shoe business. Their history is filled with a string of new products, yet they never neglect the fact that they introduced consumers worldwide to the penny loafer almost 90 years ago. The attention they have paid to the extremes of human endeavour—from crossing the Atlantic to exploring Antarctica—has resulted in a string of shoe releases that gain incredible traction from both niche sporting users and the general public. This combination of high specification footwear and attractive styling, plus a great deal of savvy marketing, has kept G.H. Bass on the map for more than a century.

And in their third century as a going concern, they know that creating a brand destination that offers an immersive and seamless web experience is essential to both sales and growth.

G.H. Bass & Co. chose Williams Commerce to create their next generation online destination on the latest version of Magento 2

With ten years of extensive experience working with Magento across dozens of industry verticals with particular expertise in fashion, Williams Commerce made a strong fit to deliver an update for the G.H. Bass & Co. website.

This site upgrade involved a move from Magento 1 to Magento 2 along with a new custom design and complex data migration, all undertakings that form part of our core skillset. And with a multi-store serving customers across Europe, fully integrated with multiple payment pathways. (including Klarna and Amazon Pay)  


What we delivered

In a post-pandemic world, ecommerce has quickly become much more vital to the shopping experience. This move for G.H. Bass & Co. therefore needed solid fundamentals to make sure that there were no gaps between customer experience and brick-and-mortar reality. That’s why we trust Magento: with a wide array of built-in features that help preserve editorial autonomy while still providing a powerful toolset, Magento supercharges the ecommerce experience. It’s also a great canvas to paint on, as the G.H. Bass & Co. rollout shows.

We started with Warehouse 3PL integration to send the orders directly to the warehouse for processing, eliminating any layers that can cause stock headaches.  Want to make that more complex? Magento’s powerful backend meant that we could deliver multiple storefronts in one Magento instance.

Including independent store-fronts for the UK and EU , plus a French language store-front (with differentiated editorial content rather than the hit and miss auto-translate) and a site for the parent company This consolidation makes for a huge increase in editorial speed and allows for bespoke backend payment options that facilitate product exchange processing, designed to make life easier for site administrators.



Building on the Magento fundamentals also means using well-known modules that extend and amplify its power. For G.H. Bass & Co., we integrated:

  • Feefo and Google Customer Reviews, allowing existing and prospective customers see how others respond, a strong brand offer that helps build trust in product selection
  • Klarna and Amazon Pay, newer entrants in the payment arena but already seeing rapid takeup. Klarna offers are integrated dynamically in the product view, meaning that takeup can be instantaneous
  • Mailchimp integration, a must-have for delivering repeat business based on new offers
  • Open Graph and Google Tag Managerfor deep dives into customer behaviour
  • The Magento blog tool which enables deeper storytelling and product recommendation along creative lines.
G.H. Bass homepage after
G.H. Bass & Co. Homepage before

Design and Evolution  

The G.H. Bass & Co. brand is long-established, so letting products speak for themselves was the key driver in creating a frictionless purchase experience.

A crucial innovation was to simplify the main navigation into top level categories accompanied by a significant search bar, boosting both discovery and findability.
On scroll, the persistent header squeezes down to a thinner bar containing only critical links, avoiding any impact on the main viewing window without sacrificing critical links or forcing the customer away from their current view.

We also made sure to support unique SKUs with equally unique URLs, so for example when toggling between different shoe colour ways, individual content is served up for each without sacrificing speed: this is a huge SEO booster and helps backend product clarity. Combined with a lovely quick view that enables effortless product comparison, the shopping experience allows customers to concentrate on, well, shopping.


Performance Counts

Williams Commerce believes that go-live is not the end of a product cycle: the new site has to prove itself on the key metrics established with the client.

This isn’t a normal year, however: both delivery teams understood that within the bigger picture of a global pandemic, there would be an understandable impact on growth.

Sometimes however, it’s really nice to be proved wrong.  Four weeks after go-live, the new Magento store is starting to hit its stride, in combination with the G.H. Bass & Co. team leading a proactive marketing agenda, with Williams Commerce supporting across social media, SEO and email marketing.

For the month of September 2020 compared to the same period last year...

September 2020 vs 2019 Average Session Duration + 36%
September 2020 vs 2019 Ecommerce Conversion Rate + 81%
September 2020 vs 2019 Revenue up 68%
September 2020 vs 2019 Users up 13%
September 2020 vs 2019 Mobile Conversion + 77%
September 2020 vs 2019 Mobile Revenue + 64%

Whilst its very early days, it does indeed look like Magento 2 has been a very positive move and a good investment for G.H. Bass & Co., enabling them to continue to focus on what they do best: non-stop innovation while honouring their rich footwear heritage. And we here at Williams Commerce are proud to stand behind them as they continue to do so for many more years to come.

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