The internet is very important for us.
When Alexis Sotomayor was laid off from his corporate job in 2001, he knew he needed a course of action. “I had to figure out what I was going to do, and I knew that I was never going to work in a corporate office again,” Alexis said. A chemical engineer by education, Alexis began experimenting with making cold-pressed soaps from different oils in his garage in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He worked tirelessly to develop a high-quality formula and eventually opened a retail location where customers can watch as he makes his soaps. “We pioneered the handmade soap business here.” said Alexis. Aware of the fragile state of Puerto Rico’s economy at the time, Alexis registered a domain and began building an e-commerce website to supplement his in-store sales. “I’ve always believed that you have to have an online presence,” he said. “In this economy, you have to have different income streams, so the internet is very important for us.”
Over 17 years, Alexis has constantly strived to improve his digital presence through a number of Google tools. Alexis runs Google Ads campaigns to get the word out about Caribbean Soaps in both Puerto Rico and the States and regularly uses Google Analytics to monitor site traffic and clicks. “Right now, it’s small — about 2,000 visitors per month — but it’s a lot more than we used to have,” he said. According to Alexis, about 60% of online sales come from Puerto Rico and 40% from the rest of the U.S. Alexis also relies on G Suite tools like Docs and Hangouts, which he uses to communicate with his web developer in India.
With a brick-and-mortar location in downtown San Juan, Caribbean Soaps is an integral part of the community in which small businesses — from dentists to restaurants to hardware stores — all contribute to the local economy. “We all support each other,” said Alexis. “Helping each other is the only way we’re going to improve our economy here in Puerto Rico.” Moving forward, Caribbean Soaps plans to have a greater presence in local stores, expand its wholesale efforts, and continue to improve its e-commerce sales. “It’s going to be one of our channels that we’re growing a lot more,” Alexis concluded. “We’re really focused on improving our website and bringing more customers in, and Google tools will be a big part of that.”