Rock City Outfitters Maumelle, Arkansas
Rock City Outfitters
“Our website makes our company look professional—not like just some dudes goofing off in a warehouse.”Ryan Ritchie, Co-ownerRock City Outfitters has 4,500 online customers.link www.rockcityoutfitters.comArkansas Tech graduates Ryan Ritchie and Matt Jones have been making humorous t-shirts to display their state and team pride for years. "We were just a couple guys printing shirts at home for fun," Ryan says. "Then we realized people would actually pay money for them." Rock City Outfitters originally just marketed their products at festivals and local events, but the business really took off once they launched a website. "People from all over the state wanted our shirts," he says. "Once Rock City Outfitters went online, we really broadened our reach."
Google Analytics helps the entrepreneurs keep a beat on where website visitors are coming from and which shirts are most popular. "Before Google Analytics, we were just throwing whatever up there and seeing what sticks,” explains Ryan. “Now we can see where we're getting business and where we should be designing more t-shirts.” For example, they learned that, surprisingly, 25% of their e-commerce traffic was coming from Texas, “a whole other market we need to explore." Google Analytics also helps them fine-tune their social media marketing strategy, so they know which campaigns are most effective. "Social media lets us interact with our customers and fans. Some of our best t-shirt ideas come from them." Google Apps for Work, including Gmail and Google Calendar, makes it easy to communicate with employees and helps the business run smoothly.
Rock City Outfitters’ online presence grew the business far beyond its small-town base. “If it wasn’t for Google, we’d still be poking around at little festivals. It’s helped us nearly double our sales every year.” The company now employs two full-time and six part-time staffers. They operate a custom-orders department and provide officially licensed collegiate apparel from Arkansas universities and other schools. And Ryan expects business to continue booming. "We're still getting our heads around Arkansas, but we hope to go national," he says. "Thanks to Google, our website, and our social media—the sky's the limit."Rock City Outfitters has 4,500 online customers.link www.rockcityoutfitters.com
The Root Cafe Little Rock, Arkansas
The Root Cafe
Little Rock, Arkansas
“If you're searching for local, organic food in Little Rock, you can find our restaurant on Google.”Corri Sundell, Co-owner14 employeeslink www.therootcafe.comIf you’re searching for a true taste of Arkansas, look no further than The Root Cafe. Nearly everything on the menu, from meats to veggies to fruits, is locally sourced. The coffee is roasted in Arkansas and even the beer is brewed there. "Around 75 percent of our food cost is spent with farmers and producers from within the state," says Jack Sundell, who opened the eatery with his wife, Corri, in 2011. "That ranks us in the top half of one percent of farm-to-table restaurants nationwide." If you're hankering for a traditional Southern breakfast of biscuits and gravy with eggs and sausage (or tofu scrambler, if you're vegan), The Root Cafe wants you to come on down.
Jack and Corri knew their website could do more to bring in diners hungry for organic, local cuisine. That’s when opportunity found them: cable channel HLN featured The Root Cafe in their docuseries, “Growing America: A Journey to Success.” A team of MBA students competing on the show advised the couple on optimizing their website for mobile devices. "Around 50 percent of our customers search on their smartphones," Corri says. They launched a new mobile-friendly website in late 2014. Now, Google Search works with their Google My Business listing to serve up hours, directions, photos, menus, and customer reviews. Google Apps for Work, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Calendar, helps them plan community events, such as potluck dinners, workshops, concerts—and even a beard-growing contest.
Jack and Corri are dedicated to helping Arkansas farmers and other small businesses succeed. They know that as The Root Cafe grows, there are ripple effects in their local community. So as they look toward the future, they will continue to make use of digital platforms like YouTube to share behind-the-scenes glimpses into their business and bring more attention to the local farms and neighboring businesses they work with. "There’s a huge sense of pride in Little Rock and around Arkansas for the burgeoning food community. We’re fulfilling our mission of building a community through local food," Jack says. “And the web is helping us to do that.”14 employeeslink www.therootcafe.com