Dan Sultzbach is the Marketing Director for Concord Pet Food and Supplies in Wilmington, Delaware. Today, this family-run business has grown to thirty brick-and-mortar stores spread throughout the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Mr. Sultzbach came to New Media Retailer to design an e-commerce site that would help Concord Pet Food and Supplies continue to compete with the larger corporations in its industry. Companies like Chewy, PetSmart, Amazon and Petco have the resources and the wherewithal to employ in-house IT teams to manage their website and online marketing needs. Concord, like most independent retailers, did not.
New Media Retailer provided Concord Pet Food and Supplies with a digital solution tailored to a small company that would represent them as they always presented themselves in their brick-and-mortar stores – with attention to detail and excellent customer service.
Concord needed an e-commerce provider that would provide the following services:
- A dedicated e-commerce administrator to be available to answer questions and work through difficulties that always arise when company employees are given responsibilities to work with new technology
- Marketing services including proactive promotion ideas, coupon designs, and social media management.
The E-commerce Website
New Media Retailer designed a scalable e-commerce website that would launch with 10,000 items in its inventory thanks to the “Endless Aisles” solution – and include items that were also sold in each of its 30 brick-and-mortar stores.
“Retaining the customers that physically walk into our stores was a priority,” pointed out Sultzbach. “It was essential that our online pricing and our in-store pricing matched, therefore. The New Media Retailer team trained our staff on how to accomplish this. They also designed a system to document tasks that were done to keep us on track with due dates so we could get the site completed on time and ready to go live on the day we planned.”
After the Concord Pet Food and Supplies e-commerce went live, there were some immediate snags.
Not because of a problem with the website but because of one of the unavoidable features of e-commerce. On more than one occasion the shipping contractor, Fed Ex, delivered items that had been damaged in transit, and even losing packages.
Concord had to act fast to retain the new customers they had gained through their e-commerce website, and attempt to ensure that these customers continued to shop at the bricks-and-mortars locations as well.
Although it was the responsibility of the third-party shipping company when customer’s items arrived in a damaged condition or didn’t arrive at all, the reaction of the customer was, understandably, to lay blame at the feet of Concord Pet Food and Supplies.
“We were able to keep most customers satisfied by offering discounts on their next purchase,” said Sultzbach. “We have a Customer First mentality, and even though we knew some of those customers would never shop with us again we continued to work with them to resolve their issues – and many did decide to continue to use us as their primary pet food and supplies resource.”
The New Media Retailer dedicated account manager assigned to Concord facilitated this effort by going above and beyond the call of duty. They even contacted Fed Ex on Concord’s behalf on more than one occasion. New Media Retailer helped the Concord crew learn how to file lost- or damaged-shipment claims in a timely and efficient manner.
“They suggested sending coupon codes to each affected customer as well, which went a long way toward making those displeased customers happier with us,” explained Sultzbach.
While it is impossible to prevent damage occurring to packages or lost packages entrusted to a third-party shipping service, Concord has systems in place now to react quickly should such an event happen, to help maintain the customer-service satisfaction of its customers.
E-commerce and Digital Marketing Levels the Playing Field
New Media Retailer and the Endless Aisle e-commerce program saved a lot of time and money for Concord.
“Because of their back-end system, our small office staff was able to focus on other tasks for the company. On the front end, being able to rely on their customer service has been huge for us. We didn’t know anything about e-commerce when we got started, and we’re still learning every day. When our first orders came in, issues with first orders, fulfillment questions and so on – we had someone to rely on to help us navigate.”
“We never had to do this “alone,” so entering uncharted territory with a partner has helped us save time and money.”
Concord had also tasked New Media with their online marketing services, which helped the e-commerce neophyte take advantage of the profit potential offered by Cyber Monday.
“They sent me some promotion ideas for Cyber Monday (2018) in early November, I chose one from a list of options.”
After receiving his choice, the staff at New Media Retailer researched apps to support the sale, generated the coupon code, made appropriate social media posts, and sent two e-blasts for Concord.
“In total, that day generated over $20,000 in total sales for us. In just one day! With this being our first Cyber Monday sale, I really didn’t need to do much and was able to rely on their team for the ideas and execution.”
New Media Retailer provided Concord with an affordable solution to their e-commerce needs and then continued to deliver excellent customer assistance and marketing services to ensure their client not only had a successful e-commerce launch but will continue to be successful in the future.
Concord is pleased with their choice of New Media Retailer.
“When we were searching for an e-commerce website designer, price and customer service were important to us. After exploring a few different options…we knew that we were making the right decision and New Media Retailer did not disappoint.
Not having to purchase, staff and stock a warehouse [thanks to Endless Aisles, which handles fulfillment tasks] made the decision very easy. We can now be where all of our competitors are and give online shoppers a place where they can support local business.”
Blue Fish Aquarium is an aquarium and pet store in the Greater Grand Rapids area in Michigan. With a well-trained staff seasoned by years of hands-on experience, Blue Fish’s service is unparalleled. They also boast the largest inventory of pets and pet products in West Michigan.
Operating since 1992, Blue Fish has grown tremendously from just a showroom to a fully functioning, large-scale pet store and aquarium shop. From fish to reptiles to related pet products, and even a wide range of pond equipment, there is nothing one cannot find to fit his needs.
In 2014, Blue Fish decided to step into the digital world with a bang. The goal was to grow an already successful business online. Moreover, they wanted their customers to be able to access their products more easily through their website.
However, there was a catch – they needed some help. According to Jeff, the store owner, his team didn’t have time to manage the website. The business was so massive that there was already too much for the team to handle. That’s when New Media Retailer stepped onto the scene and took all their digital worries away.
Blue Fish Aquarium had a website that wasn’t doing them much good. The website was not optimized for search engines, so it was not attracting new visitors efficiently. There was also another problem: the UI.
The missing piece to the puzzle: A fresh look for the site
According to Jeff, the website and its appearance was outdated.
“Our presence was always about ten years behind with the look we wanted. We had good intentions with our previous site. We knew the story we wanted to tell. Our original website featured a specials page, individual pages for different aquarium sections that we carried, a staff page, services page, and an FAQ page. Our product page consisted of a few logos for the top brands we carried, but nothing beyond that.” –Jeff
He added: “We knew what we wanted to say but couldn’t display it in the way we wanted or in a way that would generate leads for our business.”
The requirements were clear: A brand new website with a fresh look, engaging features, and most importantly, SEO.
Choosing New Media Retailer
To accomplish these goals, Blue Fish Aquarium sought a reliable agency. After receiving a referral for New Media Retailer from a distributor, Blue Fish Aquarium was eager to learn more.
Robert from NMR connected with Jeff at Blue Fish to discuss their website needs. He suggested additions like a catalog that lists all the products available in-store. He also recommended an individual product detail page for each product. These pages provide necessary details about the product that a potential customer would be interested to learn. Last, Blue Fish Aquarium would be paired with a marketing specialist to free time and effort for the store staff.
These recommendations convinced Jeff that New Media Retailer was the agency for which he was looking.
A Website from Scratch
NMR rebuilt the Blue Fish Aquarium website from scratch, incorporating all the features that had been previously missing. The new website now has a better design, improved user experience, a product catalog, and a separate page for every product on the site.
Incorporating the most important feature: SEO
You can create a beautiful website with a plethora of information for your customers, but it won’t render any result without visitors. That’s where SEO comes in.
NMR’s implementation of cutting-edge SEO techniques is designed to attract visitors searching for relevant products, brands, and businesses.
With one-on-one customer service and a knowledgeable marketing specialist, the Blue Fish website used these SEO techniques to drive visits online and, in turn, to the store. As a result, the online traffic to Blue Fish’s website has increased by leaps and bounds.
A growing portion of sales now originate from website traffic. Earlier, customers were usually introduced to Blue Fish Aquarium either by word of mouth or via social media. Now, more and more people are discovering Blue Fish Aquarium through its website.
Jeff, the owner, was amazed at how well both the business and website were doing.
“We could tell pretty quickly that NMR was doing what they said they could for us. We always ask new customers how they found out about Blue Fish Aquarium, and it soon changed from mainly finding us by social media, word of mouth, and drive-by to more and more finding us via the website. That was pretty eye-opening!”
Jeff went on to add that customers are now better informed when they walk in the door, after visiting the website. “This has helped us immensely – saving time for the customer and ourselves!”
The Results: Visible Improvements
“In the past three months, we’ve had 660 clicks to our website after typing in “125 gallon aquarium” on Google. They found us by typing in a search term that had nothing to do with our business name!”
“We really like the customer service and technical support we receive from NMR. We are not sure we deal with another business at the moment that we hold in higher regard for the way they approach business and take care of us. We liked the individual attention and customer service we received from NMR and the follow through with information given by each person we have dealt with.” – Jeff, owner Blue Fish Aquarium
I have been working with Craig, DeeDee and Kristen for over 5 years now to manage their website, social media and email marketing. So I knew when Craig and Kristen called me to say they were planning on having a Ladies’ Night event in their store – and they wanted it to be high in attendance, I knew we needed to start planning early in order to see results that would really “WOW” them.
Kristen and I worked hand-in-hand to plan this event from coming up with the details, to mapping out an 8-week plan, to approving eblasts, Facebook content and more. The event was a MAJOR success for them, so I wanted to share our strategy as inspiration for your upcoming events!
Plan in advance.
Kristen and I sat down (over the phone) and had a calendar up. We picked dates and scheduled everything out in advance. This allowed both of us to prepare and know when things needed to be due by in order to meet our determined dates. We had time to make edits to eblasts, graphics, etc. without anything having to be rushed. Ultimately, this helped us to avoid mistakes and produce great content to generate a lot of buzz. This also helped us to establish a checklist which included:
- Add content to website – event/banner
- Create Facebook event
- Send out weekly eblasts
- Boost Facebook posts
- Get RSVPs to event on Facebook
We also determined the budget for the event early on in the planning process. Craig and Kristen both knew they wanted to add more eblasts than the 2 per month in their service plan and boost Facebook posts. We established a budget and worked this into the calendar as well so that we were consistently boosting new, relevant content as it related to the event.
Kristen wanted to get as much planning for the event done sooner rather than later. Because of that, we created the Facebook event a full 6-7 weeks prior to the actual event date. To capture a lot of RSVPs early on, Kristen came up with a great idea to offer a $5 store credit to anyone who RSVPed by 9/15, a full 3 weeks before the event. Doing this allowed us to do two things, (1) create a lot of buzz about the event because people were tagging their friends/family so that they didn’t miss out on the credit and (2) allowed us to get a lot of RSVPs early to give them an idea of how many attendees they needed to plan for.
This incentive also created good content for our eblasts. We started promoting the event early in emails so there was concern that we might run out of fresh content for eblasts and may see some unsubscribes as a result. Timing this incentive to end early allowed us to focus on the credit incentive for the first 3 eblasts and then focus on finalized event details for the final 4 eblasts leading up to the event.
The materials that we created were consistent on eblasts, social media and in the store. This gave us an opportunity to talk to as many customers as possible and make sure that everyone had access to the same information.
It was really important for both Kristen and I to continue to see all of this through and continue to create buzz even leading up to the day of the event. We did additional Facebook posts with photos showing them setting up for the event, etc. Although a lot of content we were pushing out had similar messaging, we tried to keep it unique to keep people engaged even if they had just gotten an eblast yesterday.
Once the event was over, we were quick to post a thank you message to everyone who attended as well as share photos of the event on social media and the website.
Doing these combination of things lead to over 430 people in attendance at this event! It was a great success that was able to be pulled off by spending 30 minutes at the start to create a full content calendar and lay out expectations and objectives for both sides.
Thank you to Douglas Feed & Pet for trusting us to help pull off this amazing event!
Click here to see photos from the Ladies’ Night event!