Wisconsin Cheese Mart has been on Old World Third Street in Milwaukee since 1938. The old German enclave is still home to a few other food shops, and President Ken McNulty values their neighbors. Their storefront is the heart of the business, helping build their mailing list and attracting tourists from all over the world—during the summer, it can draw up to 2,000 visitors per day. But what’s really grown the company is their online presence. When the McNultys bought the business in 2003, they used the power of the web to transform Wisconsin Cheese Mart from a small, local shop to a national cheese retailer. “Today, we have single-digit growth in the store, but we’re averaging 35 percent annual growth for online sales,” Ken remarks.
Ken’s business philosophy epitomizes the digital age. “We constantly change, depending on what our customers are demanding,” he says. Google tools have been essential to taking the pulse of those demands. They use Google Analytics to better understand what their customers want and identify where they’re losing people in the purchase flow. “That’s huge for us,” Ken shares. “We’re always looking to improve the customer’s experience, so it’s very beneficial to be able to see where the pain points are.” And AdWords, Google’s advertising program, helps them get in front of consumers searching for their products. “AdWords makes up over 40 percent of our web traffic,” he says. In their day-to-day operations, Ken calls their Google usage “pretty much all-encompassing.” They communicate with teammates and customers over Gmail, create menus on Google Docs, and manage their files in Google Drive. “Our team operates out of three different locations. These tools help us collaborate easily from everywhere,” he explains.
Thanks to their online success, Wisconsin Cheese Mart continues to have a positive impact on the local community. Ken credits their online growth for their ability to create more jobs and pay higher wages, noting that “small businesses like ours employ a lot of people.” The company also hosts tasting events and, in general, maintains a space for people to learn about and enjoy the state’s flagship product. They hope to expand their website to include more food products—“We’re pretty good at the perishable part,” Ken notes—and are proud to promote Wisconsin cheese to people all over the world.