Starting an online cake shop or business is an exciting time – and there’s lots to do. From market research and planning to setting up shop and marketing, you might start to feel like you’ve got a lot of pots on the boil at once. One thing’s for sure – you’ve got to be good at keeping an eye on everything. But if it’s your dream to sell cakes, then it’s totally worth it. Here are some tips for setting yourself up online (with a twist):
Choose quality ingredients
To build your tasty empire, you need the best available ingredients. Now is the time to get all your ducks in a row and make sure you have everything you need to get started, before you dive in and get your hands dirty. That means preparing your market research, refining your product line, deciding on the best tools, and knowing what you will delegate to a
commis chef freelancer vs. what you will do yourself, in order to maintain a good work/life balance.
Some ‘ingredients’ are more expensive that others, things like hiring extra staff, investing in stock and paying for advertising, so it’s a case of what you can reasonably afford. In the beginning, you might have to content yourself with the ‘value’ option in some cases, rather than the ‘premium organic’ option. Prepare yourself – with the apron of readiness and the chef’s hat of self-confidence – as best you can, so you’re ready to take your business to the next stage.
Generate some heat
Once the wheels of your cake business are in motion, you should start spreading the word right away. Get your audience ‘warmed up’ in advance, so that by the time your product is ready, they already know and trust you. You want just the right temperature – after all, it’s no use putting fresh cupcakes into a cold oven. Here are some ways to start growing your audience as you grow your business:
- Start a content marketing campaign – write articles, share photos and videos, and tell stories about your journey so that your audience feels involved right from the start
- Create social media accounts – social media will be a super important marketing tool, so start building your audience early on. As well as sharing your own updates, you should also be commenting and interacting with others in your industry
- Do some online PR – the world of influencer marketing is huge. If you can get some big (or even medium) name bloggers to tweet or review your cakes, this could be a huge boon for business. Maybe send them a free box to taste?
- Make videos – videos are the highest performing post format on social media, and they give a wonderful insight into your world. Cakes are very visual and perfect for platforms like Instagram. Videos don’t need to be long – around 10-20 seconds is ideal
Once people start warming to you, the next step is to:
Give it a really good mix
Now it’s time to really get in there and get your hands dirty. Lay a buttery biscuit base on which to pile your brand (if you will). This stage is immensely satisfying, as you finally get to see everything coming together.
So how to set up an online store? Begin with the floury staple that is your content management system. Of course, there are many different types to choose from. The two main varieties are hosted and self
raising hosted (that was terrible, but I make no apologies). Hosted options, like Shopify, give you great usability and plenty of support, not to mention lots of lovely design templates. Self-hosted options, like WooCommerce, have greater scope for customisation, but require a little more knowhow.
Then you’ve got your sugar, butter and eggs – or your content, UX and order fulfillment – all vital aspects that will make a big difference to your business and directly impact the customer experience. No-one likes a bitter cupcake.
But you mustn’t forget about the little things – the pinch of salt and teaspoon of baking soda – which includes making your contact details visible, detailing your returns policy, ensuring there are no typos, etc. And you can get all fancy with extras as well, if you want to, tossing in additional flavours like animation, live chat, and personalisation.
Taste Test to ensure you’ve got the right balance of ingredients, before you:
Bake for an appropriate amount of time
We can’t all expect to have our cake and eat it right away. As bakers, we understand that more than most. Your business will need time to develop into something golden. But if you put time, care and effort in, you will eventually get something very tasty in return. Just don’t overthink it.
Now isn’t the time to second guess yourself – resist the urge to open up the oven and start messing with something that already works. If you do, chances are it may just fall flat. Your focus now is to maintain the heat that you’ve already generated by mastering your marketing strategy. Make sure you’re present and posting quality updates on your social channels. Be vocal in the online community – interacting and not simply shouting over the noise. Keep the heat up for long enough, and eventually you’ll be able to stand back and marvel at your creation.
The right amount of heat is important. Too little heat, and you won’t get there. Too much, and your aggressive approach might just burn all your leads.
Yes, website design should have gone further up, but as well all know, you can’t decorate a cake until after it’s been baked. So bear with me.
When it comes to the look and feel of your website (or your online cake shop), my advice is to pick a thing. Don’t do sprinkles, and iced gems, and fondant icing, and smarties, and fruit. No – that would be a holy mess. A sweet nightmare that will have your customers bouncing off the walls. Instead, form a clear brand identity by working within a cohesive style. Your website will look much more elegant and lovely if you pick a simple theme and keep it relatively minimal, incorporating one or two complementary brand colours, rather than all of the colours. Avoid adding so many options that your customers won’t know where to start
They say the first bite is with the eyes, and even the tastiest cake can go uneaten if the icing looks off. Likewise, poor web design will put users off shopping with you – no matter how excellent your product is. Your best bet? Use a responsive template into which you can inject your personality. This ensures ease of use, as well as visual coherence.
Hopefully this has given you a helpful (and relatable) overview of how to go about creating an online cake shop. I’d love to hear about your own thoughts and experiences – please share them in the comments below!
Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.
I work with ecommerce businesses and entrepreneurs to create valuable targeted marketing strategies that yield strong results. I am always happy to share my knowledge and love discovering new niche businesses.
It was a pleasure having Victoria share her knowledge and we hope you have found it useful. Let us know in the comments below.