Green Aisle Grocery, an independently owned, organic grocery store in Philadelphia.For Web-based businesses, a foray into social media may seem like a no-brainer, but how can real-world, brick-and-mortar companies use the social Web to drive revenue and growth? Look no further than
Even before Green Aisle's South Philadelphia storefront opened in Nov. 2009, co-founders Andrew and Adam Erace were using Facebook and Twitter were giving followers a taste of what the store would be carrying on day one as a way to build up local buzz.
Today, the store has over 780 followers on Twitter and 745 Facebook fans receiving around-the-clock updates about new products, sales and in-store events.
"Social media is definitely a regular part of our business," says Adam Erace. "The speed of social media lends itself so well to our business model."
On a typical day, Green Aisle might use Facebook and Twitter to announce the arrival of fresh-picked apricots, natural almond milk and hummus, all accompanied by camera phone-snapped photos of the actual products as they come in the door.
In some tweets, Green Aisle calls out to specific regulars of the store with timely updates:
Hey @joymanning your fave selzter is back in stock! http://yfrog.com/jpxvbpj
In addition to product arrivals, in-store tastings and free samples are announced online, which helps drive foot traffic to the store. When something goes on sale, the store's Twitter followers and Facebook fans are the first to know.
While the real-world success of the social media initiative is not as easy to quantify as, say, page views on a website, Erace says that each day about 40% of their customers mention something they saw on Twitter or Facebook.
Until recently, social media was the only form of marketing Green Aisle used. It was only after about six months of operation that it decided to purchase its first print advertisement in a local magazine covering sustainability.
The success Green Aisle has enjoyed over the last seven months is substantial enough that it's already considering opening a second store in another Philadelphia neighborhood, according to Erace.
In the meantime, the owners are looking to upgrade their website to enable customers to order groceries online. "We do delivery and pick up, just via phone and email for now," says Erace. "It works but we'd like to put a more efficient system in place."