This is a story about a boutique owner in Arkansas, and how she was able to grow her community-oriented business using Material’s Retail Toolkit.

Meet Mirinda. She’s currently the owner of Kindred Mercantile, a small and modest, yet undoubtedly trendy women’s fashion and kids clothing retailer in Conway, Arkansas.

Mirinda’s experience spans way beyond Kindred Mercantile, though. She’s a 30-year veteran of the retail industry, having worked for both small and large retailers alike. Though she loved working on the corporate side of retail, Mirinda soon grew tired of the busy travel schedule that came with her role, and she wanted to focus on a venture that not only allowed her to flex her retail muscles, but to also give back to her community. Thus, Kindred Mercantile–a faith-based business targeting women and families in the local community–was born. 

Community is really important to Mirinda. Kindred Mercantile was designed not only as a retail outlet, but also as a community hub–she wanted women and their families to have a place they could consider a safe space to gather. With the brick-and-mortar part of running her business taken care of, Mirinda directed her efforts towards managing operations. Having decided that she also wanted to take Kindred Mercantile online (I mean, everyone’s got an e-commerce presence these days, right? And Mirinda was about to be no less), she began to focus on solutions that would allow her to manage her business in-store and online seamlessly. 

With her background in retail and a strong understanding of the kind of technology she needed in order to succeed, Mirinda was no stranger to the e-commerce game. She knew that she needed to find an all-in-one solution that would work as a single package, but with every product she onboarded to manage her store and her website (yes, including the “big green bag”), Mirinda became more frustrated as it seemed like these solutions “just didn’t work.” Either they were too hot, too cold, but never “just right.” Just kidding, Goldilocks. But seriously, with each onboarding of a legacy set of technology, Mirinda could feel e-commerce success slipping further and further away. 

With each misfire, it was clear that Kindred Mercantile wasn’t going to be an online superstar anytime soon, but what was less obvious to Mirinda was how much her brick-and-mortar business anguished with each failing solution she tested out. Soon enough, Mirinda reached the point where she was getting ready to shut the virtual doors on Kindred Mercantile, in hopes of alleviating the hassle of attempting to sell online, without having a unified system. What had started as a way to bridge her experience in retail with her love for her community had quickly turned into a logistical nightmare. 

Having reached this “point of no return,” Mirinda sat down with a friend in the industry to share her concerns and lament the reality that she and Kindred Mercantile were facing. She expressed what it was that she was looking for in a retail management solution; a product offering that allowed her storefront and back office to work together, especially seamlessly with flexible payment systems, and would allow her to track her customers, their purchases, and where they came from; which at this point felt like hunting a unicorn.

It was then that Mirinda was first introduced to Material (then Shoptiques). Mirinda’s friend painted Material as the “as the next generation of all-in-one commerce platforms” (and they aren’t wrong). Feeling like “everyone else” was setting up an online storefront and selling like crazy, Mirinda had almost lost all hope. But, having already onboarded and offboarded so many products, Mirinda figured one more couldn’t hurt.

She set up her account on Material and signed up for the all-in-one Retail Toolkit. As she began to input her products, she realized something felt different. 

Before she knew it, she was hooked. 

Material’s Retail Toolkit had everything Mirinda wanted for Kindred Mercantile; including inventory, website, CRM, data & analytics, staffing, growth marketing, and automation. It had all the functionality she was used to while working with large retailers, but in an intuitive and easy-to-manage interface for small businesses. After what seemed like a never-ending quest, Mirinda had finally hunted down her unicorn. 

It didn’t just stop there. The more Mirinda continued to use the Retail Toolkit, she discovered that its benefits spanned far beyond just what she’d initially been searching for. Not only does she receive access to all the modules a large retailer has on one platform, she also enjoys benefits like marketing automation, which leads to cross-sell revenue, and the reliability of having ‘one version of the truth’ for data and reporting, which allows her to generate actionable insights to build and automate campaigns.

Most importantly, Material helped her organize her customer base like a community. Mirinda was proud of the community she’d built “IRL” at Kindred Mercantile. Being able to take that customer loyalty online and do things such as run custom reports to determine her top spending or rewards points earning customers, and segment them out into targeted marketing campaigns to nudge them to use their rewards points, has massively contributed to an increase in revenue. In Mirinda’s words, the unified CRM and financial data that comes along with it, alone, to her, makes having the Retail Toolkit package worth it. 

Being a faith-based community organization, Mirinda also sees great success in using the same segmentation to invite her highest paying customers to charity events in the community. These tools not only allow Kindred Mercantile to help give back to the community, but they also help her biggest spenders to enjoy some extra attention, too.

In fact, Mirinda has found that her customers love the extra attention so much that; because of a feature that allows customers to see how many loyalty points they are away from their next reward at checkout; customers return faster to reach the spend threshold for the next loyalty tier.  She jokes that customers are practically competing against one another to the point of being amongst some of her best customers, or certainly not to be amongst her lowest. 

However, sometimes things do go wrong. In the past, Mirinda has had trouble loading inventory onto her site. When it comes to support, though, Mirinda’s experience with support has always been fantastic, not just for technical issues but for help with reporting and marketing. She loves how there’s always a person (not a chat bot, or an auto-responder email) on the other end, waiting to help her out. At the drop of a hat, the support team is ever ready to help Kindred Mercantile build out a custom report.

To cut a long story short, with Material, Mirinda says, everything “just works.” 

With Kindred Mercantile’s online presence finally matching its offline one, Mirinda beams with pride at the palpable value Material has added to not only her shop, but to her large customer base and community in Conway, Arkansas, as well. After what seemed like a potentially never-ending stream of disappointment, Material has finally helped her build a place where people can not only shop, but also gather to socialize, network, and support one another, too.

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