In honor of Small Business Week, we’re celebrating with a spotlight piece on one of our very own shining stars, who took the time to share her story with the hope of helping you grow your own small business, too.
Before I begin our story, I’d like to assure you that this is our own story in our own words. Sure, Swiftic asked us to share it, but nobody told us what to write, and we’re not getting paid (we wish!).
We’ve had a successful journey, and we’re happy to describe it just like it happened. Our app went way beyond our expectations. We hope we can help you get your own app and use it to grow your business like we did.
The Story of Our Store
So it starts like this… My name is Christy White, and my husband, Russell, and I own Fleurty (pronounced “Flirty”) Ginger, a clothing boutique for women. We’re based in Louisiana.
I think our business is special in two ways: our entire inventory is affordable—most items are $40 or less—and we’re the only boutique in LA that sells exclusively plus-size apparel.
I stock the store and help our customers with wardrobe selection, and Russell mans the cash register and handles the marketing.
When we first started out, our store was a mobile truck that traveled around the state for sales events at private parties, offices, school functions, and so on. We were lucky enough to be successful, and we opened another store (a storefront) last year. We also take online orders, and I’m proud to say we ship our merchandise to customers across the country.
Why We Decided to Get an App
When we first opened up shop, we pretty much depended on word-of-mouth to get new customers. Eventually, we started using social media (mainly Facebook) to grow our customer base. We had a lot of success with Facebook—over 12,000 fans in the first year. But when Facebook changed its policies, we started getting a lot fewer views. That was really disappointing.
So we dug in and started doing some research. And we came to the conclusion that we needed to “go mobile.” Everyone is on their smartphone these days, apps are everywhere, and we decided we needed our own app. We loved the idea—a Fleurty Ginger app!
We had already noticed some websites for building apps, but now we looked at them much more carefully. We realized that Swiftic was offering the best package for a small, non-techy business like ours, meaning, it was truly do-it-yourself and affordable. So we chose Swiftic, and looking back, we definitely made the right choice.
Making Our App
As I said, we are no tech geniuses, but creating our app turned out to be not too difficult. What a relief! The Swiftic platform is quite user-friendly, and we watched the short tutorials to get through the more challenging parts (like app store publishing).
We actually had a lot of fun! Once you start designing and fine-tuning the app, it really is addicting. And once we got the hang of it, managing our app became second nature.
As far as marketing, we started out by using Facebook (and other social media channels) to promote the app. Now we keep it going with in-store banners and signs. And of course, we always talk it up! Down here in Louisiana, you can’t overestimate the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
Going Wild with the App’s Features
The more we got into our app, the more we realized how much potential it has. There are so many cool things you can do that we wouldn’t have dreamed of. But I’ll start with the basics. Here are some of the features we’ve been using:
- We make exclusive in-app coupons, which have been a huge success with our customers.
- We send out push notifications about special offers, and this has also given our business a boost.
- Our app links directly to our mobile-optimized website, where customers can buy our clothing online.
- Customers use the app to view new inventory and see in-store promotions.
- They use the app to click through to our social media pages.
- Customers can also follow the truck and coordinate private events via the app.
- They can view store hours. Since we still use the truck, we often need to close the store at odd times. Customers say they have started checking the app before heading to the store. They love it!
And Our Ultimate Favorite—the Mobile Loyalty Card
As soon as we saw this feature, we knew it was for us. That’s because we were already big with paper punch cards in our store. The problem is that customers tend to lose the cards or forget them.
Now they have the card in their app, and they use it all the time. It’s been great to hear feedback like, “You’re the only local store with an app that has loyalty cards like this,” and “Let me pull out my loyalty card…” (They think the app is the loyalty card!)
This feature gets people using the app more, and gets us new downloads, too. Customers keep using it to take advantage of the loyalty card (and of course, coupons too).
And here’s an unexpected benefit: now our checkout line moves faster!
We promote our mobile loyalty cards just like we do our app—through social media channels and in-store banners and signs.
How Our Mobile App Rocked Our Business
Here are some stats we’ve collected since we published our app:
- Online sales have increased by 16%, and online traffic has increased by 23%.
- Store traffic has increased by 17% since we added in-app coupons combined with push notifications to tell customers about the coupons.
- Customers who downloaded the app returned within one week 29% of the time, and within two weeks 48% of the time, thanks to our loyalty card.
- Our checkout lines have been shortened by 20% due to customers not having to look for the paper cards.
Our Final Words to the Wise
If you run a small business and want to get your own app, here are the four lessons we’d most like to share:
- Don’t rush. Take your time to evaluate your needs. And be patient: it takes time to go live in the app stores.
- Don’t be ashamed to promote your app! YOU have to get people to download YOUR app. Use Facebook and word-of-mouth.
- Don’t assume that because somebody is older they aren’t using mobile. Be an equal opportunity marketer.
- Edit! For example, look at the loyalty card before it goes live. Try it out for yourself to see how it behaves for your customers.
Well, that’s our story. Russell and I wish you good luck with your app!
Ready to start keeping your customers loyal?