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How do socks patterned with pizza, superheroes, and turtles make a difference in the world? By spreading happiness. That’s the mission behind John’s Crazy Socks, co-founded by John Cronin, who was born with Down syndrome, and his dad Mark.
But they don’t just bring happiness to customers who enjoy their colorful socks, they’re proving that people with differing abilities can succeed in the workforce. They also donate a portion of their revenue to charity partners. For good reason, their story and mission have earned them a lot of attention.
This forced them to use smart ecommerce tactics to turn viral events into consistent revenue, all while showing the world that people with differing abilities can make a difference.
When John Cronin finished school, he saw limited career opportunities for people with differing abilities like himself, so he put on his entrepreneur’s hat (or socks) to walk down his own path. To do that, he partnered with someone he could trust — his dad. After playing around with a few concepts, they realized that the perfect business idea was laying right at their feet: John had worn colorful and crazy socks his whole life, it was his thing, making it the perfect fit for their new company.
Despite limited marketing, they sold 1,000 pairs of socks in their first few months of operation. Word of mouth spread, particularly about John’s personal deliveries in their hometown of Huntington in Long Island, New York, attracting sock-happy customers. But that slow patter was about to turn into a stampede, and they had to put socks on all those feet.
Almost overnight in March of 2017, they went from 50 orders a day to over 1,000. A video about John and his new business blew up online, and a rush of orders came on the heels of skyrocketing traffic. The video was great for business, but after the excitement died down, so did the orders customers placed.
With more media appearances sure to materialize, John and Mark realized they needed to find a way to capitalize on the traffic spikes by increasing average order value and nurturing shoppers into repeat customers. They explored their options and tried on a few new tactics.
"We have our why. We have our story. And that enables us to connect with customers."
John and Mark decided launching a subscription service was the best way to make recurring revenue off shoppers attracted by their inspiring story. They installed Bold Subscriptions on their Shopify store and got to work. Because of the app’s simplicity, within two weeks they had a sock of the month club up and running with a few hundred subscribers.
At the same time, the pair recognized the higher commitment of subscribing, particularly for new customers. They knew they had to encourage one-time customers to check out with bigger orders. Bold’s apps helped them there too.
They used Bold Upsell to build offers right into the shopping experience that enticed visitors to add more products to their orders. They also used Bold Brain to display a recommendation widget on their homepage and product pages. The Brain widget used the power of AI to automatically display recommendations based on products that were often purchased together, or already viewed by the shopper, which helped optimize conversion. With over 2,000 patterns to choose from, this helped get more products in front of customers while also increasing AOV.
"We were offering the sock of the month club within two weeks. Bold made it very easy."
With a sock of the month club in place, and order building tactics integrated into the shopping experience, John’s Crazy Socks was prepared to capitalize on the next viral event.
So when their inspiring story got more attention from both local and international media outlets throughout 2018, they stitched together some pretty impressive results. Thousands of people signed up for the sock of the month club, and the service continues to drive revenue week after week.
The flexibility of their subscription service gave customers control over how long they subscribed, and the user-friendly back end of Bold Subscriptions helped the team quickly adapt when they got customer feedback.
The personalized recommendations had an average conversion rate of over 45%, helping drive close to a thousand dollars in additional revenue every week from customers who weren’t necessarily ready to subscribe.
Thanks to their subscribers and the income generated from product recommendations, John and Mark can keep spreading happiness beyond the customers who slip on their socks. Almost half their workforce are people with differing abilities, and they continue to support charitable causes, having donated over $300,000 to date.
"We want to show the world what’s possible when you give someone a chance."
The revenue they donate to causes like Down syndrome awareness, Autism awareness, and the Special Olympics come largely from cause-related socks. In the coming year, they hope to offer new products, like wristbands and pins. They’ll upsell those items so people can further support the causes they care about.
Meanwhile, their inspiring story continues to bring attention not only to their business, but their most personal cause as well: giving people with disabilities more opportunities to work. They’re regularly invited to speaking engagements, have been the subject of award-winning documentaries, and even spoke to US Congress on establishing fair wage laws for people with disabilities.
And when people who hear their story visit the store, they’ll not only order a little bit of happiness to their door, they also get the satisfaction of knowing their purchase is going toward worthwhile causes.