Gigi’s Presentation Wins at Franchise Times Conference in Las Vegas

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.16.07 PMGigi Butler, Chief Brand Officer and Chad Fitzhugh, President and CFO, were met with a warm welcome at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference 2016 in March. The event is the premier franchise lending and dealmaker’s conference.

Chad updated the group on the major investment and restructuring that has occurred at Gigi’s in the past two years. The accomplishments include major national brand exposure, outside capital investment, added operations and marketing support, complete technology overhaul and new store designs with greater sales volume. All of these improvements have contributed to positive same store sales.

The technology overhaul was received as “best in class”. The new integrated technology platforms provide for a cloud based POS system, an easy online ordering and delivery system, a responsive website for home office and individual stores, and a new business intelligence platform.

Gigi’s was part of a select group of successful franchise companies chosen to inform lenders, investors and potential franchisees about the current environment for franchised businesses. Other franchise companies include Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin’ Brands, Firehouse Subs, Newk’s Eatery, Tropical Smoothie, and Wingstop.

You can view the presentations made by Gigi Butler and Chad Fitzhugh here.

Amy and Chuck Jones Have Just Opened A Successful New Mall Kiosk in Cincinnati Market

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.08.30 PMAs her children grew, Amy Jones decided it would be wonderful to find a business the whole family could enjoy. A chance website visit and a trip to a Gigi’s in Dayton sparked Amy’s interest and in 2012, Amy and Chuck Jones opened their own store in the shopping-rich Kenwood area of Cincinnati. Their store is near restaurants and has seating for 26 people, inviting after-dinner traffic from restaurants.

The success of their store led to plans in 2015 for a kiosk in the nearby high-end Kenwood Towne Center. The kiosk opened in December and has been a boon to their overall business.   The kiosk is across from a Starbucks, making it convenient for coffee customers to grab a sweet treat at Gigi’s. Most of the mall traffic is composed of impulse shoppers who make buying a cupcake part of their shopping experience.

Amy says the kiosk has helped their store business because the kiosk provides a generous area for wedding, cakes, corporate and special event displays. Many of the stores in the mall have used Gigi’s for events.

Amy says they sell lots of cupcakes, but they also sell stuffed and iced cookies, cakes and wedding cakes.

Sampling has been a huge part of the Jones’ success. When the store first opened, Amy did not experience long lines waiting for her cupcakes. But her “can do” attitude had her taking mini-cupcakes to everywhere women gathered – from the mall to community events. Her sampling was not a one-day affair. She did this to establish the Gigi’s brand in the community.

Her sampling strategy also paid off when they got ready to move into the mall. She sampled product at every store in the mall and set up a “Gigi’s style Bake Sale” on tables in the mall prior to the kiosk opening.

Amy’s perseverance has served the business and her family well. Their businesses are flourishing. Each of her three children has participated in the businesses working part-time in customer service. One of her daughters has even trained as a decorator. Her husband Chuck helps out when he is not at work. Amy says the retail experience has taught them all lessons about conflict management, helping others and recognizing the good in all kinds of people.

Amy says they strive to “treat everyone like they want to be treated and put the customer first.”

The Importance of Mobile for Our Customers

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.42.02 PMTwo pieces of news got our attention recently. One was that we found that more than 50% of Gigi’s customers visit our website on their mobile phone. The second was how our customers define convenience. Our customers are on the go and they want to be able to order and pick-up when they want, all accessible from their smartphones.

And that news is in line with shopper habits of today. Nearly two-thirds of Americans own smartphones, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, making smartphones a serious shopping tool. Retailers are finding that more consumers are shopping from their mobile devices rather than their desktops and laptops. eMarketer estimates that more than 150 million people used a mobile device to research, browse or compare products last year, including 79.0% of smartphone users and 86.0% of tablet users.

Search is the most common starting point for a purchase. Some 48% start their search on search engines, 33% start on a brand website and 26% look to an app.

What are consumers searching for? They are searching for locations, store hours, product reviews, price comparisons, making an actual purchase, checking status of an order, finding coupons or codes, and news of promotions or events.

The mobile responsive design of our new website and our new online ordering system are improving the mobile experience for our customers.

Take a Look at Our New Website!

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 1.34.00 PMWe are extremely excited about our new website and online ordering system. The new website has been visually revamped to more accurately express our brand with a fresh, contemporary look and feel. The user experience is more intuitive with minimal clicks to purchase. The site uses a responsive design that allows for improved views for desktop, tablet or smartphone.  We have more ways to engage with our customers and to provide quicker updates to our site.

Using analytics, we found that most web visitors visit the menu and the order online page. We simplified the menu page showcasing all of our products on one page, including new assortment boxes to entice and grow check averages. Each item provides an order button. Customers can order from the menu page, from the store page or from the online order page.

A new Celebrations section has been added to the site, with dropdowns for Birthdays/Cakes, Special Occasions and Weddings. We know that Gigi’s has a special place at the table during moments such as birthdays, baby showers, corporate events, holidays, office events, receptions and more. Our new Birthday Box is one of the first important assortments we have added.

The new online ordering system is a best in class. It is the most advanced online ordering system available for restaurants and food stores today. It is intuitive, quick and easy for both the customer and Gigi’s to navigate. The seamless integration means our website visitors have a clean and simple ordering experience and never have to leave our site. The buyer can apply reward points to purchases, save favorites for re-order and receive reward points for purchase. On the back end, the the online ordering system integrates with our point of sale, provides Order Cloud notification, and delivers a simple method for change to menus and prices.

We hope you spend some time on our new site and see all the improvements.

The Story of Nodini’s Coconut Caramel Cupcake

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 2.04.13 PMThis great cupcake is our personal favorite at the home office and often seen at special occasions this spring. Many of our great cupcakes are inspired by Gigi’s own family recipes and this one is no exception. Gigi’s great grandfather came from Italy in the 1920s with baking traditions that were handed down in the family. Gigi’s grandmother baked an Italian Wedding Cake for good luck at all the family weddings. Now we take this traditional Italian wedding cake and fill it with caramel, top it with delicious buttercream frosting and sprinkle it with toasted coconut. Then we drizzle it with caramel and chocolate ganache to finish it off. Our tradition is eating them at weddings and any other day.

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