When Brian and Stephanie Young made the decision to open a Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More storefront in November of 2015, they did not expect the bulk of foot traffic to come as a result of online sales. But when a local PTA president walked in after picking up a large order from a nearby store and asked if Big Frog could offer them something more convenient, that’s exactly what ended up happening.
To accommodate the PTA, Big Frog created an online web store where they could place group orders for spirit wear and allow the parents pick up individual orders at the brick and mortar location on their own schedules. Not only did this create a streamlined process for the PTA, it bolstered Big Frog’s in-store sales. It turned out that when parents came in-store for pickup, they learned more about the brand and its offerings, and turned into repeat, loyal customers.
In fact, after opening the first web store in February of 2016, Brian and Stephanie quickly broke even on their entrepreneurial investment months before they projected.
Below, they share the online strategy that became a catalyst for foot traffic and a surge in retail sales.
Provide free, unlimited access. For everyone.
Rather than charge our customers a fee for using a web store, we pay the fee ourselves. Other small retail concepts also offer web stores, but they charge a fee and only allow the web store to stay open for a few weeks. We create our stores separately through AGP, an e-commerce and web store payment portal for the decorator market, which allows us to open as many web stores as we like and allow them to remain open indefinitely. This means customers can use them as needed seasonally, or sporadically. But the key is that they can always come back.
Currently, we have five web stores open and operating, and we have expanded to accommodate orders for dance groups, fitness groups, martial arts, fire departments and sports leagues, among others.
Capitalize on Re-sellers.
While the web stores drove our surge in revenue, we do not rely on them for profit. We instead capitalize on the increased foot traffic in our retail location for order pickup to act as a re-seller. When people come in to pick up their orders, they are inadvertently learning more about the Big Frog brand and all our offerings. We use this as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the customer, finding ways to meet their other needs and turn them into repeat clients. Oftentimes these individuals are small business owners themselves, and become interested in using Big Frog for their business needs as well. In this way, through a webstore, a long-lasting, repeat customer is formed.
Promote through Social Media.
News of our web store availability blossomed in large part through word of mouth among the local community groups and organizations, but we also placed an emphasis on social media advertising through channels like Facebook. In addition to raising more awareness of this option, this helped these groups further share the information with their personal networks. Through a combination of word-of-mouth and social networks, we quickly became the local “go-to” for large group orders in the community.
While at first it may seem like a focus on sales through online means will hurt in-store revenue, Brian and Stephanie prove with the correct strategy, it can actually be an extremely strong catalyst to developing stronger in-store customer relations.