Lakeville, Indiana; population: 393. Hardly the place you’d expect to find a thriving “destination” retailer.  Nonetheless, on the south end of “downtown” Lakeville, sits Working Person’s Store.  Making good on our promise of “Brands That Work” the store’s walls are neatly lined with every kind of work shoe and boot imaginable.  The shelves are piled high with sturdy overalls, jeans, shirts and a surprising variety of work related accessories. From “head to toe”, the Working Person’s Store is truly “dedicated to the working person”.Since opening in1995, (originally as a shoe repair shop) our business has grown steadily while adding new work footwear and clothing brands, product categories and distribution channels, including a  “shoe mobile” serving industrial “B2B” customers in 1998 and an online catalog serving the national market in 2002.

By late 2004, the trend was clear: while sales growth in the retail store were beginning to level off, the company’s web site appeared to offer a significant growth opportunity.

In early 2005, Eric Deniger, our CEO, decided to put a full court press on growing the e-catalog channel.  A growth strategy was mapped, resources allocated and an implementation team assigned.

Our strategy had three primary elements:

1)      An in-depth analysis of customer needs, wants, preferences, and internet search behaviors

2)      A total Web site redesign focused on improved usability, functionality, customer experience and search engine visibility

3)      Vendor and merchandise research to better match the offering to customers’ preferences

Implementation began June 2005.  Customer and sales data was carefully analyzed.  New tools were introduced to learn how our customers were using the Web site. Ongoing A/B testing of multiple features led to improved site design and sales conversion.

Search engine keyword advertising campaigns were stepped up to provide additional data on customer brand and product preferences.  (Over 50,000 keyword combinations were tested.)  The insights we gained on customer product preference were invaluable and led to a much improved merchandising plan.

Keyword click-through and sales conversion data was then used to systematically improve the Web site’s organic search engine visibility across brand and product categories. (Example: appears page one on a Google search for “Wolverine boots”, “Carhartt sweatshirts”, many others.)

The company’s three-prong growth strategy exceeded expectations.  Sales results for third and fourth quarter 2005 increased by 608% compared to the same period in 2004.  Rapid growth continued into 2006, with first half sales growth increasing 1,177% over the same period in 2005.

As can be expected, managing this exponential sales growth had its challenges. Fortunately for us, our UPS shipping partners have worked tirelessly to keep up with our huge delivery volume increases.  Their intervention in implementing “as needed” multiple daily pick ups; sending larger trucks, (and more), has proven invaluable. And best of all, their 99% average “on time delivery” service level has allowed us to pursue our goal of creating new customers and keeping existing ones.