Free digital copy
Get Speciality Food magazine delivered to your inbox FREEGet your free copy
E-commerce has proved to be a valuable tool amid the current coronavirus pandemic. With consumers stuck at home and limiting their in-store shopping, many brands with a strong online presence have felt the benefit of online shopping. Bread & Jam co-founders Jason Gibb and Tara Mei quizzed three such business owners – Amy Moring, co-founder of health and wellness brand Hunter & Gather, Ella Rauen-Prestes, founder of protein snack company Fitbakes, and Nicola Simons, founder of premium preserves business Single Variety Co – about their online strategies.
Building your online shop
All three experts currently use the e-commerce platform Shopify. “For our types of products, Shopify is just the way to go,” says Amy. Although edits to the site can be made through Shopify, Amy has found it helpful to outsource this work to an agency. “There’s a really amazing agency called Hey Carson, they’re actually American, but it’s about $200 a month and they do all edits for you. If you’ve got any problems on your Shopify store they can change things around, they can do design, they can do coding, and they are literally my lifesaver,” Amy says. “They’re like wizards, it’s so worth the investment.”
When it comes to payment options, Nicola says that offering an array of options has helped to secure sales. “When we moved to Shopify, I just put every single payment option on there. And I’d say over 50% of my sales now are PayPal, which we never had before. So whilst PayPal takes a bit more commission, I think having the option there is generating a lot more sales. It’s definitely worth it.”
Create a simple shopping experience
Online shoppers are looking to make quick purchases, so creating a good website flow is essential. “It’s almost like building a web around your shop so that you’re keeping people engaged in different products and maybe showing them something else that they hadn’t thought of,” Amy says.
Bundling products together can be an attractive option, especially for first-time buyers or for shoppers trying to reach a free delivery threshold. Nicola said about 90% of her first-time customers go for Single Variety Co’s jam bundles. “And we don’t offer any discounts – they don’t get 10% off, for example, for buying more,” Nicola says. “It just makes it really, really easy for them.”
According to Ella, 70% of first time buyers at Fitbakes choose their selection box. “You have to make it easy for people.”
Amy adds: “Shoppers are normally quite lazy when it comes to website shopping. If you can make them a bundle that’s 20 quid and it hits your free delivery, that’s going to be so much easier for them rather than shopping around.”
Ella also recommends giving customers a nudge to spend more with product suggestions to help them reach the free shipping threshold. “Let’s say you add [a product] to your cart, which costs £3, then it’s going to say you are £21 away from free shipping, would you like to add this, this and this?” she says. “It’s a psychological thing.”
Changes in customer behaviour in the current crisis
Covid-19 has brought about a number of changes in consumer behaviour, and in some cases small online businesses have benefited. For instance, Nicola has noticed that while people tend to order the same products as before, they are reordering more frequently. “I’m finding people are reordering within say a week or two, or even quicker than that, whereas before we were maybe getting repeat customers every month.”
Amy has seen huge growth in purchases of a new subscription service on her Shopify store. “On our Shopify store, April was up 458% on last year. And it was a growth of 211% from February to April. So we’ve seen a massive explosion, and May is looking to be up even further. And part of this is the subscribe and save.” Interestingly, Amy also noted that her business’ sales through Amazon were up, but not as significantly. “It’s like shoppers are wanting to come directly to the brand.To be clear, our Amazon sales are bigger than our web shop, so the growth theme is relevant there also, but we’ve been really shocked by the direct to our website that people have come to.”
Driving traffic with online marketing
Facebook ads and email newsletters were the two marketing tools used most frequently by the experts. “I’m a big fan of email marketing to get the recurring sales,” Ella says. “If you can work within your market for example and bring these people back every two or three weeks, that’s where I think the real value is.”
Nicola has increased the number of emails she sends out to customers: “I used to just send out email newsletters when we had new products, but at the moment I’m also giving recipe ideas to customers, helping them have ideas of how to use more of our jams at home.”
Amy uses an intelligent email tool called Klaviyo that lets her business target different customers with bespoke newsletters and avoid spamming. “The good thing with Klaviyo is you can set up very different campaign audiences” Ella also uses Klaviyo to target customers with marketing depending on when they usually purchase items or when they last visited the website. “It takes a while to work on these algorithms, to know when to target people, but it’s very, very clever and you won’t annoy because you won’t send to the same people.”
This strategy can pay dividends, as Amy said a recent email brought in £1,300 of sales – but she stressed that the content in the emails must be useful and relevant to customers.
When it comes to Facebook ads, Nicola said testing is key – and you also need to be prepared to put the money in to better understand your audience. Google ads is another area where Amy is investing and seeing results. “The return has just been really exciting actually for the brands like ours on the investment that we made here.” But patience is key. “Don’t chuck all your money in at once. It’s not like you can put £1,000 a day in, and you’re going to be flying. The algorithm takes time, it learns who is shopping who’s interacting with your posts, and it will show to more people like that.”
“There’s no silver bullet… it is dependent on your products and the search terms that you’re using, but do a small test and learn and then if an ad is performing well.”
Getting customer service right
“Customer service is so important, especially in the early days of any business,” says Amy. She uses the platform Zendesk to streamline customer enquiries. “I love to help people, and I was kind of struggling with trying to help others, answer customers and actually get work done. So Zendesk collates all of your customer service from Facebook, from your email, from your customer page on your website, and you can respond to them all in there you keep a log of all of their emails,” Amy says.
Stay connected and receive the latest news, analysis and insights from our industry's top commentators