Arkansas start-up company cashing in on Cyber Monday

North Little Rock start-up, Bourbon & Boots, shipped more than 1,000 order on Cyber Monday

In Arkansas and across the country, a record number of people logged online on Monday to create what's expected to be the biggest online shopping day ever. Shopping forecasters expect Cyber Monday 2015 to net nearly three-billion dollars in revenue nationwide.

One Arkansas start-up has figured out how to cash in.

The most popular item sold on Cyber Monday at North Little Rock-based start-up, Bourbon & Boots, was the "Oversized Plaid Blanket Scarf" - retailing for $21.99 - not even included in their Cyber Monday deal - 45% off of select merchandise.

"We have at any given time, any single instance right now - about 10,000 visitors on our site," said Rod Ford, chairman of Bourbon & Boots. "We'll ship about a thousand packages today, out of our fulfillment department in the back of the building."

Xcelerate, a capital investment company founded by Ford, bought the Bourbon & Boots website in May 2015. The start-up was originally the brainchild of Matt Price, who had created the concept as peer-to-peer marketplace similar to Etsy.

Ford repositioned the company to an actual brand with their own line of products, and said the company had revenue totals for October that surpassed the past 16 months of sales at Bourbon & Boots combined.

The company credits its recent success to their rebranding as well as a team of people dedicated to market research - targeting new customers with data analytics.

"We're able to target and grow our audience very, very quickly," said Ford. "We're talking to 4.5 million unique people through social media every single day."

Just 10 years ago, the percentage of retail sales that took place online was only about 2.5 percent. Michael Pakko, state economic forecaster, said that percentage today is closer to 7.5 percent.

"There's a very rapid growth rate in the proportion of sales that take place online, and that trend is certainly going to continue in the future," said Pakko.

Pakko said it would be smart for Arkansas brick and mortar businesses to start to take advantage of the online marketplace. Items can easily be sold online through third-party companies, but Ford said Arkansas business owners should at least invest in a social media presence.

"We're targeting audiences and advertising through Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, Instagram," said Ford.

Ford said anyone with a credit card can "boost" or "promote" posts that can micro-target potential customers - and those websites allow customers to set their own advertising budgets.

According to Pakko, it's not just millennials shopping online anymore. New data from the National Retail Federation suggests 33 percent of those ages 55-64 planned to shop online over the shopping holiday weekend, compared to 29 percent that said they were headed to the store.

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