Helping Small Retailers Reach Customers

Cody Sharp (Photo by Jonathan Reynolds)A self-described fashionista, Cody Sharp ('11) hopes to someday direct the digital retailing and marketing departments for a major luxury brand such as Gucci or Burberry, helping to design shopping applications for the newest personal computers, mobile phones and other technology.

"The luxury consumer will go out and buy a $700 phone or a $2,000 laptop, and up-to-date equipment is where we can push the boundaries of digital retailing the most. I'd like to focus on inventory allocation, purchase patterns of consumers, online merchandising and business analytics," he says.

But, regardless of where his career in digital retailing takes him, Sharp says he'll "always have a soft spot for the mom-and-pops" — small businesses that don't have a large number of employees, or perhaps even one full-time employee, to build and maintain their websites and promote their products and services online to possible customers.

Since receiving his degree in digital retailing from UNT and becoming the SEO — search engine optimization — team lead for Globe Runner SEO in Lewisville, Sharp has built websites and provided other services for two Denton businesses — Oak Street Drafthouse and Docs Tile Service. He continues consulting with both businesses, and has never charged fees for his services.

"I love living in downtown Denton, and this is my way of giving back to the community," Sharp says. "At Globe Runner, my success is happy clients, and they're happy when I get them to rank in Internet searches for specific keywords and increasing the number of hits and sending more traffic to their websites. When I'm volunteering, my success is providing opportunities for growth in the business. I've helped both Oak Street Drafthouse and Doc's Tile be placed on Google maps."

A graduate of Mansfield High School, Sharp enrolled at UNT as a merchandising major. He later added a second major, digital retail, after realizing that opportunities for online merchandising "would continuously grow."

"I've always purchased things online, so I felt I already had a basic understanding of digital retail," he says. "But there's much more to it than working with websites. I end up doing a lot of market research for clients' products, to find out how customers are describing the products. Digital retailing also involves managing the company's reputation through social media, which customers can use to successfully bring down an inferior product and have drastic impact on the company."

Sharp also gives back to the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism as a frequent guest speaker for UNT's digital retailing courses.

"The college is sitting on a gold mine with the program," he says.