Third & GroveThird & Grove
Jul 10, 2022 - Sophia Katsikas

How to go from Regional to National with a Beloved Food & Bev Brand


Conjure up your imagination: let’s say you’re a regional cake company and your local customers adore you. Cake is everywhere. Everyone’s doing it, making it, ordering it. When I think about cake, it’s in an actual bakery: the IRL experience of browsing fantastical confections behind the glass, speaking with an expert and placing my custom order… and picking it up to top off the celebration.

Yet, in an increasingly digital world with pandemics and events that push us even further into the sweet embrace of the internet… How does a bakery revamp its ecommerce presence and replace IRL experiences to ship their tasty treats nationally? It’s a challenge unique to the consumer food industry and it’s not going away. You’re a well-established local retail bakery needing to take your regional brand and bust it open to ship your cakes beyond the local neighborhoods that know and love them. You need to reach a national audience that would pay to have a cake shipped hundreds of miles across the country.

Well, it’s time to break out your forks & knives and cut the cake. Understanding how to initiate this endeavor starts with an IRL experience:

  1. Visit the retail bakeries with a new eye.
  2. Hone in on your brand essence by observing and listening, and then go to another location and do the same thing.
  3. Eat some cake.

From there, you must identify the secret ingredients to launch a national baked goods Ecommerce experience.

Piece of cake, right?

Ingredient #1: Educate

First, you must address awareness: you make the best cake that no one has ever heard of. Yeah, your locals love you, but what about the locals four states over? 

You need to educate your customers and make them feel your brand. It’s time to forget the “About Us” page: exude your brand ethos of celebration on every page of the ecommerce experience.

Customers should remember their cherished celebration moments when browsing for a sweet treat on your website.

Cake isn’t just a recipe, it’s something people feel. You’re in the moment you take that first bite but already remember it. It's sentimental. This sentiment is what compels customers to tell a friend. That instant nostalgia should resonate at every user touchpoint.

Delivering baked goods nationwide, on time and intact, is crucial. It would be best if you let customers know that you understand this. Walk visitors through your careful baking and packaging process with an interactive preview of the unboxing experience so that customers can order confidently. No one will want to order a cake from another state if they don’t feel safe about it.

Ingredient #2: Connect 

Digital cakes are impersonal: this isn’t a retail experience. It’s not a human experience by design. The anxiety of putting my cake into a stranger’s hands is gut-wrenching. Who knows what happens once it leaves the bakery… cue cake smashed in the woods image. You have to be more deliberate.

Building a connection through recognizing your guests and catering to them with targeted content, navigation, and promotions drives extraordinary value for increasing efficiency and driving more revenue. Personalization is especially critical as competition grows - what makes your buyer feel unique? A cake with their name on it on the homepage, that’s what.

Once a user places their order, the post-ordering experience should embrace all of the anxiety that accompanies ordering a perishable treat. Provide users with consistent shipping status alerts and the entire product delivery tracking to follow their cake’s journey to their front door.

For you, the PDP isn’t just about selecting a product - it’s about crafting the centerpiece of an event - and that needs to resonate with visitors from all over the country. Welcome to the Product Celebration Page (PCP). Present users with a call to action and a dynamic photographic experience that makes them feel like they’re at one of your bakeries, choosing the color of their frosting and watching their cake dreams come to life.

Ingredient #3: Delight 

Lastly, it’s a crowded market: everyone and their grandma is selling cakes these days. So it’s important for the gift giver to feel delighted by their cake but in control of their cake: to build their own experience. A custom cupcake assortment? Yes, please.

Remember that cake spans hundreds of celebration types, not just birthdays. Therefore, it’s vital to cater to all cake-lover audiences, regardless of their occupation or industry. With navigation options and tailored content, the message will be apparent to users: corporate can give the gift of cake too.

Cakes look delectable - as they should - against a pristine white backdrop. But they can also look a little lonely. Show the user what their cake will look like by providing a human experience to relate to. Wouldn’t it be great to scroll through a category page and see people living a moment, not just products to buy?

A gift is most impactful when it’s unexpected but personal.

The unboxing surprise shouldn’t be a surprise: utilize a gif to show how cakes are packaged and a snapshot of someone opening their box. Make it personal with a handwritten card or a QR code for the receiver to scan and see a special message from a loved one.

In conclusion: taste, observe, and map out the ingredients. You’ll notice that the word ‘celebration’ arises a lot like a lot. So, reflect on your celebrations. Think about what the word celebration means, and ask people what it means to them. You’ll find that it’s not about the venue, it’s not about the cake, it’s not about the beer. It’s about the people you spend it with: it’s one of our most basic human experiences and a constant in the ingredients to successfully launch your national digital cake.