Sweet E’s Sees Soaring Back-of-House Productivity by Switching from Pen and Paper to Shopify POS (2022)
Founded out of Erica Tucker’s home kitchen in 2009, what started as a passion for baking for friends quickly blossomed into Sweet E’s Bake Shop, which today serves clients throughout Los Angeles and the United States.
“I’m from Texas and grew up baking with my mom and grandmother. I’ve loved baking decadent desserts for my family and friends for as long as I can remember,” Erica says.
Today, Sweet E’s delights customers with classic sweets, extravagant custom cakes for celebrations, logo cookies for corporate events, and more. Sweet E’s has an established bakery near Beverly Hills, and a booming ecommerce business to support online orders, store pick-ups, and local deliveries.
Until recently, Erica and her team didn’t have an ecommerce site and used pen and paper to take walk-in and phone orders. This not only made it difficult to keep track of orders and have a holistic view of sales, but the business was making no sales through online orders. To support her aspirations to grow Sweet E’s into a national brand, Erica knew something had to change.
She enlisted the help of Shopify Experts Pacific IQ to set up Sweet E’s online store and migrate her bakery from pen and paper to Shopify POS. Since moving the entire business to Shopify, Sweet E’s has:
- Dramatically simplified back-of-house operations
- Gained a holistic view of online store, pop-up, and bakery sales
- Seen a 41% improvement in its repeat customer rate
- Lifted conversion rates by over 5x since launching next-day store pickup for online orders
Challenge: Taking orders using pen and paper
Prior to getting set up on Shopify, Sweet E’s Bake Shop didn’t have an online presence and tracked orders with pen and paper. That meant taking orders over the phone, writing down customers’ names, contact and delivery information, and manually keeping track of what had to be made when.
“That made planning what food inventory to purchase really hard because all we had to work with was scattered on a bunch of pieces of paper,” Erica says. “The more orders we got, the more complicated it was to keep everything organized. Looking back on how inefficient that process was, it hurt us and made fulfilling orders harder than it had to be.”
Not only was this manual system inefficient, but it also didn’t give Erica and her team the data they needed to grow the business. “We didn’t have centralized reporting to help us understand our business better. We didn’t know what products we sold most, when our peak selling season was, or who our repeat customers were. We had no clear view of our business,” she says.
While the pen-and-paper method was slowing Sweet E’s down, Erica and her team could still get by. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic drastically shifted consumer buying behavior, she saw it as a chance to pivot, start accepting online orders, and modernize how she ran her business.
The pandemic really forced us to rethink how we did business. I saw it as an opportunity to reset Sweet E’s from a tech standpoint, improve our processes and workflows, and ensure we could sell our products in a way consumers want to shop.
Solution: Unifying its sales channels with Shopify
COVID-19 forced Erica to rethink Sweet E’s entire business model. She partnered with Shopify Experts Pacific IQ to build Sweet E’s ecommerce website and get the bakery set up on Shopify POS. Now, the entire business runs on Shopify.
“When Erica came to us, she wanted guidance on how to make her business more resilient in the new environment she found herself in,” explains Sean Clarke, Founder of Pacific IQ. “During COVID, fulfillment methods like store pickup and delivery became essential, as did customer retention. By switching Sweet E’s from pen and paper to Shopify, Erica has an infrastructure that enables her to build out the online component of her business, grow and retain her customer base, and ensure her bakery can support an influx of online orders efficiently.”
For Erica, seeing all orders in one place has dramatically improved back-of-house operations for kitchen staff. “With Shopify, staff can see all of our orders, whether they come from a phone call, an email, an online order, or a walk-in customer. Every order we get is in one place. We see what we need to make, when the order needs to be fulfilled by, delivery addresses or pickup times, and any notes the customer left. Moving to Shopify really helped streamline our production.”
Equipped with Shopify’s unified customer reports and marketing tools like Klayvio, Erica can also engage with clients post-purchase, foster loyalty, and grow customer lifetime value. “Shopify allows me to see who is a repeat customer versus who is a first-timer. I know what products customers like, their lifetime spend, and even when their birthdays are. All the information I need to keep customers coming back is under one umbrella,” Erica explains.
“Now, with this information, I can build newsletters and share promotions with my customers in a way that just wasn’t possible before. Since upgrading to Shopify and using Klaviyo, our repeat customer rate has improved by 41%”
Thanks to Sweet E’s modernized front-of-house and back-of-house operations, Erica even started offering next-day fulfillment for orders in the greater Los Angeles area—a convenience her clients appreciate and that sets her apart from other local bakeries.
“Right now, our order cutoff is at 11:59 p.m. for the next day. I’m only able to do that with the help of Shopify,” Erica says. “When our staff arrives at five in the morning, they see all the orders they need to make that day in Shopify POS and can prioritize production based on lead times and when the order is scheduled for pickup or delivery. Shopify helps us offer a convenient buying experience for customers and have a seamless production process on the back end.”
Shopify helped us to pivot our entire business model to something more efficient that’s in line with how our customers want to buy. All that was possible thanks to the support of Shopify. We were able to customize our ecommerce site and POS system to create a modern bakery operation.
Results: Selling how customers want to buy and skyrocketing conversion rates
Now, when a craving strikes or there’s a celebration to plan, Sweet E’s customers have more options for placing and receiving orders.
“I’ve enjoyed bringing ecommerce into our business and making it feel like a natural extension of our retail services,” Erica says. “Customers want to buy things online now, so being able to sell how customers want to shop and manage it all from Shopify has been rewarding. Offering in-store pickup or local delivery for online orders wasn’t possible before, and now it’s one of the primary ways we sell our products.”
Since launching with Shopify, Sweet E’s conversion rates have skyrocketed by over 500%. “People want convenience, and now that we’re offering a better buying experience, we’re seeing that reflected in our results. We’re selling more than ever before, online and from our bakery,” explains Erica.
Shopify didn’t just make in-person and online orders simpler for Sweet E’s. Equipped with Shopify POS Go and no additional hardware, Erica can take Sweet E’s on the road and sell baked goods at events, pop-up shops, or markets.
“With pop-ups, there’s already so much to prepare and think about: inventory planning, baking the inventory, marketing, transport, your kiosk placement and design, you name it. Instead of technology being yet another thing to worry about, I just bring POS Go with me and have everything I need,” Erica explains.
For Erica, being able to easily view and interpret sales data has helped Sweet E’s become more profitable than ever. “I have more control over my company, production, and marketing than I’ve ever had. We can track our sales easier and clearly see what our bestselling and most profitable products are,” she says.
Erica also notes that Shopify’s user-friendly interface has been a sweet relief. “My favorite thing about using Shopify POS is that it’s simple and easy to use. I can easily train all my staff to use Shopify. I can manage products, run reports, and keep a pulse on my business myself,” she says.
And when she needs an extra hand to do things that are outside of her comfort zone, Erica leans on her Shopify Partner Agency, Pacific IQ. “They’re valuable consultants who help me set up systems, build more efficient workflows, choose the right apps, and get everything running to meet my business’s needs,” Erica says.
With everything running on Shopify, I have more control than I’ve ever had. We used to spend the bulk of our time on daily operations and order management. Now, I’m investing that time focusing on what customers want and actually growing the business.
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