How To Start An Online Bakery (Or Move Your Existing Shop Online)

/ ecommerce
Jodie Lee

Small businesses around the world are going through some truly tough times. In light of the current pandemic, many will increasingly rely on online solutions to make sales. Luckily, as a bakery business, you have plenty of ways to move your operations online and continue sharing your goods with customers.

On the other hand, anyone thinking about starting a bakery or sharing their homemade recipes with people should also consider starting an online bakery. Not only will this create an income stream during these uncertain times, but it could also commence a sustainable, life-long business for you.

Let's explore the steps you'll need to take in order to start your online storefront.

Step 1: Define your bakery

For every new business, the very first step is to narrow down your niche. Think about your favourite restaurant and why it stands out. Who are their customers? What kind of food do they sell? What are they known for? These are all critical questions for your online bakery.

Your business could be a dessert house or sourdough haven. Whatever it is, make sure to leverage demand and look for trends and opportunities in your local area.

A great example of this is Looma’s, an online cake business that saw the need for fresh and promptly delivered gourmet cakes in Sydney, Australia. They appeal to customers who want a quick, painless solution to store-to-store cake browsing. Try to imagine what specific goods your bakery will provide for the community, whether its gift-wrapped treats for special occasions or wholesale goods for family gatherings.

Source: Looma’s

If your bakery has already set up shop, think about how your business can adapt its product line through online channels. You can maintain consistency with your menu or transition into easily packaged and deliverable goods, such as assorted rather than individually sold pastries.

Step 2: Think about logistics

Another key consideration is how your baked goods are getting to your customers. Do you have all the right baking equipment? How long will it take to finish certain products? If you’re starting in your home kitchen, it might be hard to fulfil more than a couple orders every day and still maintain quality freshness. Baking can be precarious, and the shelf life of foods is not to be ignored.

Start planning which days to shop for which ingredients, and see if you can buy products in bulk as demand increases. Since you are producing perishable goods, you’ll need to work out where to store your finished items and adapt your schedule to the rises and falls in sales levels.

It’s important to mention that some supplies won’t be readily available due to low stock levels across many supermarkets. Keep a list of these low-supply ingredients and which of your goods will be affected. You might consider using frozen rather than fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you’re just starting out, some of the home equipment you may need includes mixers, convections ovens, lots of storage units and a large work table space. Depending on your projected growth and future goals, you may want to invest in more commercial equipment for large-scale production.

Step 3: Create your online platform

You’ve done the planning—what comes next? It’s time to start building your online presence to bring your food to hungry customers. Start by creating a website, either using a custom domain or web application.

We believe the best way to reach your customer base is through a landing form, which is a landing page containing an online order form. This way, your customers can leave their details after perusing your enticing menu on your website. Buying from you should feel easy and effortless for your customers. What better way to make this happen than by creating a landing form with a menu of ready-to-choose products?

Below are some tools that will help you build these landing forms without the need to code:

  • Paperform: Create beautiful forms that are consistent with your brand and easily collect payments online
  • Typeform: Minimalistic form templates with step-by-step questions and answers
  • Jotform: Drag & drop form builder with simple designs
Created using Paperform

Other options include setting up in-built forms provided by site builders such as Wordpress or Wix. Their standard forms offer basic functionality.  Alternatively, you can embed finished forms onto a page using their HTML add-on gadget.

Step 4: Register Your Business

Before you launch your site, you’ll need to officially register your baking business under your local government. This means obtaining a license to certify that you can produce and distribute your baked goods to customers.

Depending on your state, you’ll also need to apply for a food manufacturer or distributor’s license. Contact your local council to enquire about services, permits and approvals, and avoid legal obstacles to kickstarting your baking business.

Step 5: Build Your Brand

So you’ve finally done the heavy lifting: your products, website and business are ready to roll. Now, your focus is on getting the word out there about your bakery. Word-of-mouth is the most important marketing channel to build a loyal customer base. If you’re interested in how this works, this article gives an overview of marketing strategies to increase word-of-mouth sales.

Every business begins with a value proposition. What is the core value that you bring to your customers? In other words, what are you promising that will enhance your customers’ lives?

Rather than simply presenting your product line, think about how your bakery satisfies an underlying need. Nike doesn’t make shoes, it gives athletes the ability to perform. Your bakery might sell home-baked fruit bread, or it could give families something to split at the dining table and a reason to spend time together.

A great example of an online bakery that effectively communicates its value proposition is Leonelli. Their promise is a traditional, authentic Italian taste and experience. Instead of focusing on their entire product range, they tell a story of quality and authenticity.

Source: Leonelli Focacceria e Pasticceria

You, too, can build your brand in this way. Find what makes you special and stand out from other online bakeries. It could be that your products are highly customizable, offering a fun, personalised experience. Or it could be that you bring nostalgia onto a plate through your family recipes that are reminiscent of home and childhood. Leverage the experiences that you bring to your customers and your sales will naturally follow.

Step 6: Focus on Marketing

You’ve made it this far. Customers know who you are, what you sell and why they should buy from you. It’s time to expand your online presence to drive greater web traffic and engagement.

Digital marketing is a powerful tool for small businesses to interact with a wide audience. In the advent of social media, customers have taken to online platforms to shop, review and discuss. It therefore makes sense that your next step is to set up social media accounts, each for their own unique purpose. Instagram showcases photos of your products, while Facebook Business is an amazing tool for customers to engage through community discussions and reviews.

Other digital marketing tools include SEO keyword searches and link building strategies. This article suggests some other ways you could promote your bakery business online.

It’s crucial to note that marketing shouldn’t be one-sided. One metric for marketing success is how frequently and deeply customers engage with the content that you publish. Are they leaving thoughtful comments, sharing posts to friends and writing positive reviews? Similarly, you should aim to respond to customers across social media promptly and demonstrate active listening—especially if they have any concerns that need to be addressed.

Below are some great examples of social media use from Three Sweeties, an online bakery specialising in cakes and assorted desserts.

Extra Tips for Bakeries Moving Online

As an existing business, you’ll face different challenges than newly established bakeries. Initially, this will be getting the word out about your online platform. Inform your existing, loyal customers of your online store if they show an interest in buying your products as a set. Some ideas to do this include online-only offers, discount codes or casual mentions of social media platforms such as your Facebook Business page.

Another avenue to explore is newsletter communication. A newsletter with a dedicated following is a great way to update your subscribers on the latest news to your business. The delivery company UberEats utilised email newsletters to inform customers of its waived delivery fees in the midst of growing coronavirus concerns. If any changes occur to your business model, newsletters as well as social media are essential ways to keep communications open.

Finally, consider building a simple website before adding in complementary features or improving upon the web design. Once your customers learn about your online bakery, they will need to be able to complete purchases right away. The priority for your business will be to have an effective system to collect, process and record payments to generate immediate sales. This will further support your growth, helping you shift away from in-store sales for the time being.

Final Words

Whether you want to turn your baking talents into a business or earn income through your hobby, the solution may lie in starting an online bakery business. The journey will be different for everyone but having a solid business plan, using the right tools, and connecting to your customers are all critical steps to long-term success.

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