How a Forbes 30 Under 30 Winner Uses Interactivity to Swiftly Create Personalized Products

How a Forbes 30 Under 30 Winner Uses Interactivity to Swiftly Create Personalized Products

Hold my hand, won’t you?

You see, if I was going create the ultimate case study for you, one that’s perfectly aligned with your needs, goals, and specific to your vertical, I’d need you to take me by the hand and allow me to walk through your world with you for a bit. The digital equivalent of this might be to ask you to take a brief quiz. Specifically, the quiz might ask you for details like:

  • Why you’re reading this blog
  • The problem you’re trying to solve
  • The vertical you wish to conquer

With answers to these questions and others, my hypothetical Ultimate Case Study Algorithm would instantly pull pertinent content from related blog posts, find great examples to illustrate the things you care about, and spit out a rough blueprint designed to help you solve a specific problem or achieve a business objective.

It would all be woven together into an ulta-compelling narrative customized just for you…

And it would happen for you on demand.

Unfortunately, this level of uber personalization doesn’t exist (at least not yet) when it comes to providing case studies to readers like you.

However, it does if you’re looking to create products that fly off the digital shelves.

All you have to do is be willing to interact similarly with your store visitors to quickly create products that are certain to sell.

The Costa Rican Epiphany

Want to earn three-quarters of a million customers quickly?

Then try going to Costa Rica for a vacation.

That’s exactly what Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, two self-described surfers from San Diego did five years ago after graduating from college. While enjoying the sunsets and waves, the two bumped into a native selling handmade bracelets. The man, according to Thall, was homeless and often slept outside.

Before heading back to California, Thall and Goodman asked the man to make them 400-bracelets. The two returned home with the bracelets and an idea.

But little did they know, a business venture had been born.

Proof of Concept = an Empty Bowl

Back in San Diego, Thall and Goodman dropped the bracelets in a bowl at a local boutique. Just a few days later that bowl was empty; the bracelets had sold out and everybody was asking for more.

“That homeless bracelet vendor on the beach five years ago,” Thall recalls. “Today he’s the same guy who has found a way to scale his business to keep up with the demand we’re creating – it’s just incredible.”

The result is Pura Vida Bracelets, a popular ecommerce store that transforms the lives of Costa Ricans with each bracelet that’s sold. Besides the original bracelet maker, Thall says one hundred Costa Rican artisans are now employed full-time, working 40-hours a week and earning 4x the the minimum wage in Costa Rica.

The company has:

  • 478,000 Instagram followers
  • Earned $95,000 in a recent seven day period
  • Earned $3 million in a recent ninety day period

Thus far, the company has generated $12 million in revenue which was impressive enough to earn Thall and Goodman spots on the 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 list. “We were just blown away, my mom was crying and the staff was super excited,” Thall recalls. “I’m running a multimillion dollar company, staring out my window at the ocean, and loving life.”

One reason for that…

Thall’s customers have fallen in love with the unique way Pura Vida personalizes the customer experience.

The Perfect Bracelet

Thall may have stumbled across that Costa Rican artisan by accident years ago.

But he wants to make sure you have a much easier time finding a bracelet that’s just right for you. It’s why people who visit Pura Vida’s store are offered a 7-question quiz designed to help them interact with the brand in a way that can result in a more personalized experience.

The quiz has been taken by more than 37,000 site visitors, 18,000 of whom have opted to provide their email addresses, which is a mind blowing conversion rate of 48.6%. Not only does the quiz suggest the perfect bracelet, but also uses the data collected to highlight specific aspects of a visitor’s personality. The interactive nature of the quiz can help create strong bonds between the company and customers who ultimately become brand evangelists.

“We’re not just another ecommerce site, we’re building a community,” Thall says. “When people share creative photos of their bracelets, we give them a free bracelet which often triggers a viral effect that results in additional sales.”

But it’s not just a quiz or social media that define Pura Vida’s interactive approach to customer relationship building. The company actively solicits its fans, followers, and customers to help fundraise in support of its charitable efforts. To date the fundraising, as well as a cut from some of the bracelets sold, has resulted in Pura Vida donating more than $877,000 to 125 charity partners.

“Once people learn the story behind the bracelets, they really begin to engage on social media,” Thall says as he reads some of the Instagram posts and tweets that could be mistaken for love letters.

“Really they fall in love with us because we support so many great causes,” Thall says. “It says a lot about our customers that so many of them take the time to come back to our site and leave reviews on their charitable purchases.”

Even the checkout experience, where there is often a surprise awaiting customers, is interactive.

The Return Home

Pura Vida recently returned to its ecommerce home.

The company had been lured away by a different ecommerce platform, only to find it had been sold on a dream that never became a reality. It’s why in the Summer of 2015, Pura Vida returned to its roots and came back to Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce platform for high volume merchants.

“Shopify is just the best,” Thall says. “It is by far the best ecommerce platform out there and has truly allowed us to sync our operations with vendors, apps and tech partners, as well as provide amazing reporting.”

  • In the two months since Pura Vida returned home, it has generated more than 60,000 orders

Nearly two-thirds of Pura Vida’s traffic is mobile which means it needs a responsive website that can easily be integrated with apps like:

  • Foursixty which allows stores to create shoppable Instagram galleries
    • Talkable which lets Pura Vida customers refer friends & receive discounts
      • Bounce Exchange which uses behavioral automation to improve conversion rates

      Besides conversion rates as high as 8%, Thall suggests Bounce Exchange allows Pura Vida to treat its customers differently and better personalize the checkout experience. It also provides upsell opportunities, as well as rewards for customer loyalty by offering checkout discounts for referrals.

      “It brings in 50-75 extra orders each day,” Thall estimates. “Without Shopify it wouldn’t be possible.”

      Welcome home Pura Vida…

      Now what’s next, a one piece or two?

      The Perfect Bikini

      Imagine knowing in advance exactly what your customers want and will pay for.

      Now imagine having this data without having to do any guesswork or carry any inventory that might not sell.

      It’s a reality for Pura Vida, which is once again aggressively interacting with customers to create new products that are almost guaranteed to sell. How can Thall and Goodman know for sure? They asked…

      The Build Your Own Bikini quiz is a gamified version of market research that has resulted in nearly 45,000 people volunteering exactly how they’d like Pura Vida to build its next new product. Visitors are told their bikinis are in progress after telling the company which style, pattern and color they prefer.

      To delve even further into the mind of the customer, Pura Vida has rolled out Build Your Own Bikini Part Two, a quiz more than 31,000 people have taken as of this writing.

      “We’re doing market research in real-time so we can make a better product,” Thall says. “We’re testing the waters and getting data to find out exactly what our customers want before we actually make the product.”

      Thus far, nearly 12,000 quiz takers have provided their email addresses with the intention of being notified the moment Pura Vida’s new bikini is for sale. Not only is it a segment Thall can sell to immediately when the bikini launches in April, but Pura Vida plans to create lookalike audiences on Facebook to leverage the list it has built.

      Remember, Thall isn’t even thirty yet!

      Tomorrow and Beyond

      “We built this company on social media,” Thall says.

      Whether you’re an A-list celebrity or a regular Joe with 100 followers, Pura Vida has a way of making you feel like a million bucks.

      And creating incentives to get you to help them make millions more.

      “We’ve done a really good job identifying influencers and engaging them,” Thall says. “It’s a unique scenario because we send out sample bracelets at scale and generate a lot of word of mouth that way.”

      It has been a long and interactive journey since that chance encounter with a homeless artisan in Costa Rica.

      How’s he doing today?

      “It has been transformative both personally and professionally,” Thall says with a smile. “His whole life has been turned around by this.”



      About The Author

      Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog. He helps individuals & organizations generate new leads, make more money, and ignite growth with story. Get more from Nick here.