COWS: Building an online cowmunity of ice cream lovers
If you’ve traveled around Canada, you know COWS. They’re at almost every Canadian tourist spot. From Cavendish, PEI to Banff, Alberta, COWS Ice Cream provides tourists and Canadians alike with some of the best ice cream in the country, made from PEI dairy milk and other fresh homegrown ingredients.
It all started back in 1983 when a local PEI entrepreneur named Scott Linkletter was given a recipe for ice cream that dated back quite a ways in his family. At the time, Scott wanted to use high-quality ingredients to make the best ice cream he possibly could. After sourcing only the best, Scott decided to open up COWS alongside Cavendish Beach in PEI, starting off by selling only vanilla ice cream.
Since then, COWS shops have opened up all over Canada, providing tourists with one heck of a tasty treat. With a wide assortment of flavours, COWS has become a true Canadian icon.
Understanding the importance of being online early
When the internet was just starting to boom, Scott knew the importance of being online right away.
“Our owner was early into realizing the importance of having a domain name, URL, and website for the purpose of branding and being very easy to find online,” says Chad Heron, vice president.
They were able to snag the great domain name cows.ca in 2000 to create their company website.
Choosing more than just Canadian cows
In order to create a well-known brand focused on quality ingredients from Canada, their website needed to be Canadian too. It needed a .CA domain.
“Our .CA drives home the Canadian connection that our brand has. COWS is in Canada, we market around Canada, our products are made with Canadian milk, and we try to be in Canadian tourist areas."
“Everything that we do is about Canada.”
Building a cowmunity online
Claiming your own online space is important for any business’ growth today.
When asked how COWS has been doing since establishing a digital presence, Chad said that there has been a lot of growth within the past five to ten years.
“I think that’s due in part to the online side of things including our website and social media platforms. We tie in our social platforms onto our site including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter which gives people the incentive to follow us on those platforms. It’s another way for us to connect with the consumer.”
People love sharing their experiences of the brand with friends, family, and even strangers too.
“The online part helps us with our business because people do two things when they come to our stores,” Chad explains. “First, they take pictures and they share those photos through social media and then we put a lot of them on our website. The viral nature of sharing that stuff is great for our business."
“The second thing they do when they come to our store is leave reviews. That can be done on various platforms like Google, Yelp, or TripAdvisor and we really see strong reviews on those websites. The reviews really help with business as well. For example, if somebody is searching for desserts within the area, we’re always on top of those lists because we’re dedicated to the product quality and customer service in the store.”
Chad believes that even though social media and review sites are driving growth, having a website is still beneficial and helps with growth too.
“Our website is the central hub for all that stuff going on.”
Today, the cows.ca website does more than just show off their amazing assortment of ice cream and clever cow puns.
It’s also used for sharing their story, posting job openings and showing various store locations. Fans can buy COWS-branded clothing, chocolates, and udder stuff from their e-store. As Canadians become more comfortable with online shopping (87% of Canadian consumers have made a purchase online in the past year, according to CIRA’s 2019 Factbook), companies that were once traditional brick-and-mortar operations are now able to connect with customers through e-commerce as well.
Entrepreneurial advice for Canadian businesses
After talking to the Vice President of COWS, Chad believes that being online is mandatory for businesses at this point in the game.
“If you’re not selling your products online, you at the very least have to be there for informational purposes.”
“The reality is that’s where people are looking to find out what’s available in the area, what services are provided, and if you’re not there, there’s way too much business that you’re going to miss. If you’re not doing it, your competitors are doing it and they will be grabbing that up.”
Fortunately, getting online today is much easier than it used to be.
Whether it’s a new business, old business, or even a personal brand, every great Canadian website starts with a .CA.
Get started with yours today.