How one handmade bracelet store is weaving its way to success…

What’s the story?

Sometimes a simple idea is all you need to make a big change! And Pura Vida (Spanish for “pure life”) is proof of that. The company, now in its fourth year, was born on the back of a chance encounter in Costa Rica, where founders Griffin and Paul bought a bunch of handmade bracelets from a couple of local jewelry makers. After returning to San Diego (and selling every one of the 400 bracelets they had bought), they realized they had stumbled across something special. And so they returned to Costa Rica, re-enlisting the help of Jorge and Joaquin, the bracelet makers they had met on that first fateful trip. Pura Vida was born.

Nowadays, the business has expanded somewhat- with 100+ Costa Rican locals in full-time employment hand making the bracelets, which are sold all over the world to a loyal customer base. The company itself supports not only its employees but also over 190 charities, with more than $935,358 donated to date.

One hell of a story right? We thought so too. A simple product, ethical values and a commitment to giving back – Pura Vida have definitely won a place in our hearts, making us very proud to play a part in their story. But they are not just a likeable business, they are also a successful one – with many innovative ecommerce techniques that other merchants could learn from. In this blog I will take a look at what those are…


Pura Vida Monthly Club

Ok, I know I’ve written this a million times but it is 5 times cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to attract a new one. That makes repeat customers the holy grail when it comes to running an ecommerce business. And what if you could automate and guarantee it? Yep, you have it – a subscription service! Something that Pura Vida offers in the form of their “monthly club.” This is a clever thing to do if your business lends itself to it and Pura Vida do it brilliantly. As a company they are obviously aware that while subscriptions are great, they require an element of commitment that can be difficult to elicit from a customer and so they have removed every barrier to purchase possible…

Firstly, they have committed to full transparency – using the small print to tell customers exactly how much they will be billed, on what day and how long it will take for their bracelets to arrive. They have also specified the value they can expect, combined with the price they will pay (the bracelets sent will be worth up to $50 but they will pay only $14.99), therefore highlighting potential savings that would make the commitment worth it. And on top of this they have provided customer ratings and testimonials to show that others who used the service were happy with it. Oh, and did we mention free shipping as well? Yeah, that too.


Pura Vida Points

If shoppers aren’t looking to become Pura Vida Monthly Club members they still have the option to earn Pura Vida points and get money off future purchases. This is effective for a number of reasons, by rewarding loyalty Pura Vida is nurturing it – this makes customers feel appreciated and also encourages them to spend more and on a regular basis. Which, as we have already covered, is key to a successful ecommerce business. It also adds an element of gamification which is likely to encourage average order value – if you are just a couple of dollars off of hitting your next threshold and getting money off why wouldn’t you add more to your cart?!


Product Quiz

Ok, let’s get one thing straight, people love to think, talk and read about themselves. “Get to know you” quizzes play on this, enabling a customer to tell an otherwise faceless brand what it is that they like and want. This is a format that is particularly suited to the millennial generation (a ripe market for a company like Pura Vida) who have grown up with companies such as Buzzfeed, a new breed of media brand that rely heavily on this type of interactive content. This approach works in two ways – firstly, its interactive nature works to make the customer feel more engaged. Secondly, it provides them with a product recommendation – making the shopping experience feel more tailored and bringing them one step closer to the checkout. A particuraly nice feature of this example is that it encourages them to go through the process by telling them exactly how many questions there are (negating any fears that it will take a long time), shows them how many other people have done the quiz (playing on their fear of missing out) and offers a discount for completing it! Bravo.

“Create” page

Most companies keep hold of their brand tightly, guarding it as if made of glass and stifling it in the process. Want your customers to love your brand? How about giving them a chance to be a part of it? This is exactly what Pura Vida have done with the Create page on their website, which enables customer to leave comments and ideas for future products. And if their idea is chosen? They get the first sample plus $100 credit to spend on the website. This provides Pura Vida with a crowd-sourced stream of product ideas and their customers with a sense of involvement and ownership in the brand, as well as the possibility of financial reward. Winners all round!


Shoppable Instagram

For any modern company selling to a young target market it is important to understand how your audience wants to browse and shop. Yet many make only a nod to the social media sites that heavily dictate their audience’s lives and buying habits, struggling to connect their channels in any meaningful way. But Pura Vida have embraced the image focused and aspirational social media site of Instagram, directly embedding their images into their site and inviting browsers to “shop” the images. From a UX point of view the experience is a delight, click on an image you like and you are driven to a page with both that original image and the items contained within listed – hover over the specific product you are interested in and the item in the list is illuminated in color (and vice versa – if you like a product in the list and hover over it, it is highlighted in the image). It’s a seamless and, most importantly, relevant experience.


How they use Nosto…

With a rapidly widening selection of bracelets and other accessories, offering a tailored shopping experience for their customers (in the form of product recommendations) was proving to be a laborious task for the guys at Pura Vida. And so, happily for us, they installed Nosto’s product recommendation engine on their homepage, within search results and as cross and up-selling options on the product page. If you want to see how they used it in full, have a look at our case study with them (it’s worth checking out as they generated a 14 % ROI) , but here I am going to look at one Nosto element I think they have used particularly well.

Often we see ecommerce stores using Best Seller recommendation slots on the homepage. This is a practice we recommend, as it gives first time visitors to your store a snapshot of what it is your store offers, as well as highlighting the pieces that are most likely to convert. This is crucial when these visitors have been shown to take only 3 seconds to decide whether to stay. 

Now, Pura Vida take this one step further- using the recommendation slot to highlight those items that have been most popular in the last hour. This means a few things; firstly, visitors to the store are given the impression that this a busy site, with items flying through the checkout at all times. This is reassuring, because a popular product implies desire and quality, but it also creates scarcity as a popular product is more likely to sell out and that means people will act more quickly in buying it.

The short time frame also keeps the the homepage up to date and bang on trend. If a celebrity is snapped wearing a Pura Vida bracelet you can bet it will be on that list. And with the products changing more quickly, more products are given time in this prime spot, increasing the range that new visitors are exposed to.

So, there we have it – a great brand, doing great things, in a great way! To find out more about our work with them, download the by clicking the link below.

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