Much like our friends at Sugar Paper, Catching Fireflies started out as a two creatives with a small business idea that transformed into a successful multi-channel retail venture. Husband and wife team Steve and April McCrumb began selling her own paper design products at a single art fair in Michigan. That quickly jumped to 35 fair appearances a year, and they soon moved into their first retail space—less with intentions to sell-sell-sell, and more with the optimism that sales would simply pay the rent of their new design studio. Well, it did that and then some.
Today you'll find Catching Fireflies' three storefronts brimming with whimsical gifts and the works of local artists. The store has more than loyal customers—they have a true fan base. But like any progressive retailer, April knows that there are always more people to welcome through those doors. and she's figured out how to get them in there.
While many retailers have witnessed the ease of online shopping rob them of their in-person customer, Catching Fireflies’ foot traffic is buzzing. They’ve been online since 2004, but “[Ecommerce] is just the cherry on top of the sundae,” says April, that sweet sundae being her flourishing three-store brick-and-mortar business.
Rather, it’s inventory and marketing incentives that keep her active online. Realizing the power of integrating her ecommerce and inventory management platforms, April synced virtually her entire catalogue to her BigCommerce site and began selling items and filling orders directly from the sales floor. “I realized there was all this dead inventory sitting in the warehouse somewhere, why not let people shop off our existing store inventory?” The ecommerce integration has granted her valuable brand and product exposure: “Customers peruse online first, then they come into the store and say 'I saw this,' 'I heard about this,' and in turn end up buying more.”
"Ecommerce is the cherry on top of the sundae."
Alas, there is the elephant in the room. "Amazon is the big beast to slay,” admits April. Offering free shipping and practically instant satisfaction, its convenience is hard to compete with, as even its FBA program—with which Catching Fireflies did once dabble—still robs retailers of a significant cut once the fees and free shipping expenses are taken into consideration.
So instead of trying to compete in volume, April puts her energy into growing her website as strong marketing tool for her brick-and-mortar locations. “The time we’re spending to do this is not in vain," she says. In addition to serving as a product catalogue, it acts as a hub to all of the store’s digital marketing efforts, from social media to a wildly popular blog and weekly newsletter, where April thrives in content marketing, sharing recipes, DIYs, customer stories, gift guides—“things that can add value to [customers’] lives…to create suggestions and make their decision of buying easier.”
Our takeaway from April's success: Amazon-volume online sales don’t have to be the end goal. Though it may seem backwards, a strong ecommerce website can have a striking effect on your brick-and-mortar business. And with the seamless BigCommerce and Springboard Retail POS ecommerce integration, your online presence can be a direct extension of your store. Its bi-lateral sync makes it easy for retailers like April to get new products online the second they arrive in the store, and because orders can be filled directly from the sales floor, there’s no need for any additional warehouse staffing.
We want to know: How are you using your ecommerce site to drive customers into your store? Sound off in the comments!
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