2020 was the year of the pandemic, but it was also the year when a lot of people realised the true value of working from home. Most people have realised that work can be done from a laptop and within the confines of their own homes, and that most meetings can be done over zoom. People are ready to quit their 9 to 5s in pursuit of the dreams they have not been pursuing. Quitting your job to go to online culinary school, starting an art instagram or becoming a small business supported by TikTok marketing - we're now experiencing the world through our smartphones. It’s like suddenly a lot of people have woken up and realised that the internet provides a reach that was previously unheard of.
In my own search for successful small businesses, time and time again I would chance upon people opening their own delivery-only bakeries at home. While I thought these were small scale establishments catering to local communities (and there is certainly truth in this), some tech savvy entrepreneurs have truly leveraged the power of the internet and are now making a fortune selling cookies online. Let's have a look at who is doing it, and how you can do it too!
Who’s Doing It?
Serving the neighbourhoods of Fresno and Clovis in California, Crave Cookie has hit a milestone many small businesses can only dream of. They’ve crossed the $200k mark in monthly revenue. How does a humble twenty year-old family cookie recipe turn into a cookie-selling mini-empire?
The brother sister founder duo had just the right and complimentary skillsets to make this happen. Sam Eaton is a software engineer who paired up with his sister Shandi (the cookie maker), and together they setup a modern, online-only business model.
The website is completely designed and developed from scratch and is proprietary Crave Cookie software. However, in the day and age of online platforms like Shopify, not having technical skills to build an online store is no longer a roadblock for budding e-commerce entrepreneurs.
Our second feature for today is a little online cookie store called "The Very Best Cookies in The Whole Wide World". Is the e-bakery true to its name though? Let's find out.
The Very Best Cookies in The Whole Wide World was a product of quarantine fuelled boredom and innovation. What started out as a game to do nice things for friends, has turned into a full fledged cookie empire, and at last update was making around $12k/month in revenue. The bakery is only a year old, and has been selling all across the United States. What's best is that the website and the logistics are all handled by Shopify, which means that all the owner has to worry or care about is baking and shipping!
Have a passion for baking and want to sell all over your country? Here's how you can!
Opening an online store is now easier than ever, thanks to tools like Shopify and BigCommerce which have allowed budding entrepreneurs to open up their stores in less than a day.
However, running a bakery is not an easy business. You need to define your speciality and make sure you have the right plan for logistics and capital requirements in place. We have just the right roadmap and tips for you if you want to start your own:
Step 1: Figure out what your bakery niche is going to be
There are several different kinds of bakeries in the market, and they all serve different niches. You want to find a bakery niche that falls between what your expertise is, and where the market opportunity lies. This will depend on several factors, like the demographics of the areas you want to serve as well as the competition in your area. For example, somewhere like Los Angeles where the general population tends to be more health conscious and vegan might have different requirements to other places.
Step 2: Create a small menu of 5/6 of your best recipes
Once you've figured out your niche, make a small list of what you think will be the best sellers based on the locations you wish to serve and your own expertise. Take feedback from people by sending free baked goods to your friends and family as well as people in your community. This will not only help you refine your recipes and zero down a couple of favourites, but also help you get your name out.
Step 3: Figure out logistics
There are multiple logistical requirements associated with running any business, and some of these are even more essential to take care of when you're running a business that deals with edible goods.
- Batch Size: How many goods are you aiming to sell per day? Keeping an upper limit will help you figure out your cost as a whole.
- Sourcing Ingredients: Create a detailed list of all the inputs for your baked goods along with the price of each.
- Equipment: Make sure you have the correct equipment requirement according to your batch size.
- Clearance: If you run a big enough establishment, you might need clearance to run a food delivery service. Check the requirements for your area.
- Packaging & Delivery: Food delivery can be a logistical nightmare so you will have to pick a courier service that specialises in delivering perishable goods and also serves your region
Step 4: Setup an online presence
Nowadays, there are plenty of tools to choose from when it comes to setting up an online e-commerce store. You can go as simple or as complicated as you would like, depending on your requirements. However, in most cases, a Shopify store should be enough to get you started.
Step 5: Define a pricing model
Based on the cost of ingredients, packaging, delivery, running your e-commerce store (and all other fixed and variable costs you might have), you will need to figure out a cost per cookie which you can then use to calculate your profit margin per cookie. Once you have your profit margin, you can use this to mark-up your cookie to your desired price. You might want to research the general cost of what you decide to sell.
- Vegan goods tend to be priced a bit more than average
- If you are using the best quality, premium ingredients, you can target a higher end market and this will also reflect in the price you decide to set
Step 6: Figure out a marketing plan
It is important to get word of your bakery business out there. If you have already followed our steps, you've probably sent your cookies around your local community to get word of your new business out there. If you haven't already, here are some tips to get started:
- Participate in a local bake sale
- Get on social media and do free give aways. Instagram and TikTok are great place these days for small businesses and can help you get tons of exposure both locally and also beyond your immediate neighbourhood
Step 7: Go live and sell, sell, sell!
Once you have all of that in place, you are ready to go live! Keep your marketing practices up and let the orders roll in. Happy selling!