Image courtesy of Monique Bird
This semester, a University of North Texas digital retailing class worked with a local bakery to improve the bakery’s digital presence. It was a unique undertaking, but one that is already having positive results for both the students and the bakery.

Each semester, Linda Mihalick, the director of UNT’s Global Digital Retailing Research Center, chooses a local business that is already doing well on its own but could use some help with retailing in the digital environment. Working together with that business, her students will take what they’ve learned about digital retailing and changes in technology and apply that to the business’ needs.

In the past, UNT students have worked with a wedding company and a local Nestle retail shop, among others. This year, the business selected was Jenny Layne Bakery of Argyle, Texas. The main goal was to identify Jenny Layne’s digital challenges in areas like online marketing, social media management, SEO, and navigation, and develop low cost ways to improve in those areas.

Jenny Layne Murdoch Fallis began her bakery 13 years ago as a college student. With practically no business funding and no retail space, Fallis worked extremely hard to grow her young business. Eventually, she was able to expand, and is now on her second facility. Last year, she relocated from Flower Mound to Argyle, and has since made great strides in that community.

Branding was key in the UNT students’ work with Jenny Layne Bakery. One group created a mock Instagram page and website to show how the bakery could give customers an easier path to finding the bakery and a better understanding of the company.

Image courtesy of Monique Bird
Some of the students’ suggestions had to do with SEO and site navigation. They recommended that Fallis add a site map, which would help drive more traffic to the website. Once there, visitors would benefit from expanded sections of the website that would help answer basic customer questions, thus eliminating some of those questions during the ordering process.

A goal of the project was to make sure that these suggestions would be either free or affordable to implement to give Jenny Layne Bakery the best return on investment. Through this collaboration, the bakery greatly benefitted from focused input, while the students were able to gain some real-world experience working with a business.

“We are able to actually apply what we are taught in lectures to situations that are very similar to what we may encounter in the “real world” when we start our careers,” says UNT Digital Retailing Strategies student Reilly Farris. “We have researched deep into companies’ current digital strategies and look at what they are doing well, as well as what they could be doing better. It allows us to problem-solve and use both our previous knowledge and creative new ideas in a team setting.”

Jenny Layne Bakery is a custom wedding cake bakery that is in the middle of a busy cake season. The insight given by UNT's students will help the bakery to reach even more customers, both now and in the years to come.

“To say I was impressed with the digital marketing students would be an understatement,” says Jenny Layne Murdoch Fallis. “Being a business owner means that you are constantly faced with new challenges. One of mine was our social media position and our online visibility. I felt overwhelmed trying to run my business, complete products, manage my employees, and implement a marketing strategy on top of that. I learned new ways to structure my website and Instagram to drive traffic and new leads. Simple changes that would equal big results.”