“If there were one thing you could change about our business, what would it be?” Many companies might hesitate to ask their customers that: After all, who knows what kinds of things you might hear? But St. Pete’s Bagel Co., which has storefronts in St. Petersburg and Largo, Florida, and a third location about to open in nearby Kenneth City, didn’t hesitate. Parking was an issue. And people had opinions on the proper toasting level of the bagels. But the top comment received had to do with one of the company’s donut fillings: it was simply not that great. So the company found a new supplier, and now jelly donut lovers on Florida’s central Gulf coast can taste the fruits of the company’s customer-centricity.

“Technology gives you many great ways to engage customers,” says Lukas Pleva, the 24-year-old son of company founders Renata Plevova and Oldrich Pleva, “but you have to be aware of all the platforms they’re on, and you have to be prepared to respond on all of them, and fast.”

So Pleva scans Yelp, Urban Spoon, and other restaurant review sites, keeps the company’s Facebook page updated, and is continually refining the company’s website.

You might think that a customer’s morning bagel, donut, or coffee purchase would be baked into their daily routine, and that such an intense focus on leveraging technology would be both costly and distracting. But Pleva says that savvy use of analytics, email marketing, and other digital tricks of the trade have been instrumental in driving the company’s expansion.

“We use Google analytics to see which pages on the website get the most traffic,” he says, “and how often people return. We found that many come only once: they want directions, and to see what we offer. But we also saw that when we began to post more updates and offer more specials, we got a 10 percent boost in return Web visitors. Analytics also showed us that as many as 75 percent of the people who visit our site do so from a smartphone, so we redesigned it to be very mobile-friendly.”

Ordering habits skew differently, as well. “One location gets more traffic,” Pleva says, “but produces less profit, because people spend less. So we devote more of our marketing budget to creating upselling programs there, versus strategies for acquiring new customer acquisition, which is our focus at the other location.”

All these moves depend on capturing and analyzing customer data, Pleva says, and he credits the company’s use of ShopKeep point of sale (POS) technology for being able to provide much of the crucial information that guides the company’s growth. One feature of ShopKeep that fits nicely with St. Pete’s marketing efforts is its “Named Discounts” capability, which allows a client to create a specific discount (“FreeBagel,” for example) and then either offer it to customers in store or push it out via specific social media channels. That enhances a company’s ability to assess which discounts work best via which channels.

Pleva also praises ShopKeep’s ability to integrate with MailChimp, which in turn is integrated with the company’s website. That allows customers to receive coupons when they register on the site, and they can also elect to have their receipts emailed to them as well, creating another opportunity to extend special offers or otherwise engage them.

Add it all up, Pleva says, and it becomes clear that technology is not only an indispensable part of customer engagement but the driving force behind the company’s marketing efforts.

Those efforts get a further boost from the efficiencies that technology makes possible on the back end. “With ShopKeep, we all spend a lot less time on accounting issues,” Pleva says. “We can easily monitor transaction levels on any device that has an internet connection, and that lets us spend more time thinking about ways to create the right kinds of new products and promotions at each location that can help grow the business.”

With 3,100 Facebook fans and a rewards-card system that integrates with ShopKeep and has more than 2,000 customer participants, “our customer outreach is becoming more efficient and less costly every day,” Pleva says.  Customers clearly feel well-served: the company’s email newsletter has an open rate of 37 percent, a level most companies can only envy. 

“The ability to integrate several different technologies to create an extensive customer database has been huge for us,” Pleva says. “We can do everything from polling customers about new products we might offer, to tracking spending based on many different criteria.”

Next up on his wish list: the ability to accurately measure the ROI of various social media efforts. “Big companies have the staff and money to determine, ‘For every dollar spent on this program we gained two customers,’ but that’s very hard for a smaller brick-and-mortar company to do. But there are a lot of interesting things coming down the pike, and we now have the technology foundation to be able to take advantage of them.”


To learn more about all the things that ShopKeep can do for your business, visit us at www.shopkeep.com