How to Start an Online Bakery (Or transfer an existing one online)
If there is one thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that the current pandemic has forever changed how businesses operate.
It also changed how we shop. Right now, having an online bakery can be the answer to your questions on how to use your kitchen gifts to profit.
Starting a new business requires courage. But, if you got here, it shows that you are brave enough to put the idea into practice. So, roll up your sleeves and let’s get started. It’s time to work on your new online bakery.
These tips can work for a new business or if you are transferring your current bakery to an online store.
1. Write A Business Plan Specific for Your Online Bakery
Going online is easy. Getting results online, that’s a different story. But you can’t start anything without a proper plan first.
Having a detailed action plan will guide you every step of the way. It also helps you determine and learn to prioritize several important tasks that are part of having a business.
It doesn’t hurt to create a lean business plan at first since it allows you to be more flexible once you start your online bakery.
After careful review of the resources found in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website, we summed up how to write a business plan for an online bakery:
Any business plan needs a value proposition. In a few words, you should be able to describe what goods you are going to offer. In a bakery case, it will be bread, cakes, donuts, sweets, and other kinds of cottage food. Then you define the range of products you are offering.
As a bakery, you can offer a large range of products. But, it’s interesting to narrow down and specialize your bakery on a few key bakes.
Always be aware of what the market’s needs are, especially since they can often change. You can open an online bakery but get no results unless you investigate what the market is going for.
Explore your region to make sure you are not just offering more of the same. Observe if there is any demand for some specific product. Decide what you can offer and how you can do it. You can start your production offering what your region needs more. Sometimes that can be birthday cakes, but it can also be simple daily bread.
Now that you investigated what the market’s needs are, it’s time to give a solution. You already know what your region is demanding. Now, give the solution by offering a demanding product. And, of course, something more. You can, as an example, offer personalized cupcakes, vegan options, gluten-free, and so on.
How are you going to sell your products? How are you going to deliver the sold goods? These are questions you must think when building the business plan. After all, you are selling delicate products, and on an internet base. You must have the plan very well-built, predicting any possible trouble you may have. You must decide how is going to be the payment method and if you are going to use an order form. Are you using Instagram for your sales? A website? Or both? Study your target market and see which way is better for selling.
Costs and Expenses
In your business plan, you must add any prediction of what you are going to spend during the process. These predictions must include:
- Kitchen renovation;
- License fees;
2. Start Focusing On Marketing
You want your business to be successful. For this, you must be known, recognized, and seen. Your marketing strategy must focus on target customers. When you have an ideal client and focus any effort on delight them your chance of success is greater. But, what kind of strategy can you use for your online bakery? Here are three examples of how you can do your marketing strategy.
Create a Website
A website is the easiest way to divulge your bakery. Besides, this can be how you sell your products, as well. You are going to display your products on several landing pages. Write some content to go with the product description. You can also add order forms, intake forms, and contact forms to assist your prospect make an order or get in touch with you. Make your business easy to be found online.
Use Social Media
In a pandemic world where everyone is communicating remotely, it is easy to understand the importance that social media has gained. The past months changed the world and put a new perspective on how business must work. And an online bakery is exactly what people need right now. Use all the tools you have to sell your products.
Use social media that focuses more on the visual, like Pinterest and Instagram, to show your beautiful merchandise and sell it as well. Instagram is the main social media for food products. Use it without fear. Don’t forget any other social media that exists so you can profit and thrive. Don’t be shine. Use social media in favor of your online bakery.
Encourage Word of mouth
Word of mouth is still one of the most useful mechanisms of marketing. People that know your work and enjoy it can refer to friends and family. And you can also do it yourself by talking about your online bakery for everyone in your community. Besides asking for friends and family for assistance. Share campaigns and giveaways are two examples on how you can start word of mouth marketing.
Fast fact: Messenger Apps As Your New Tool For Getting Close To The Customer: The modern world brings several tools and technologies to help the entrepreneur’s life. Online messengers, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger, are tools that allow you to contact your prospects easily. And make your business open to new customers. For some places, it can help your business create a better set of contact with customers, which means more trust in your business. You can use online messengers to promote your bakery for everyone you have on your contact list and ask for them to do the same. Be aware of which of the messengers works better in your region.
3. Define Your Online Bakery Specialty
The world is going into specialized markets. So should your online bakery. Your specialty can be personalized frosting, or maybe your products are all vegan or gluten-free. Or you can create your own recipes. Or you can offer products inspired by recipes from other countries. No matter how you do it, as long as you do it.
Why have a specialty?
When you have a specialty, it makes it easier to stand out from your competitors. Focusing on a few types of products, you can get more specific feedback to improve your product, define your business, and become a reference for that specialty.
Starting as an original niche is going to highlight your business against your backdrop of competitors. That can be the winning card for your bakery. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have various products, it only means that you have one type that is your masterpiece.
4. Prepare The Offline Background
When you’re starting any business you need to know in advance the cost of every tool and resource you need to get the gears running. In the case of an online bakery, you need not only an online marketing strategy, but you also need to consider the offline background of workspace, tools, and supplies.
Investigate all the costs of starting your home bakery and the ongoing expenses. You must have projections of any costs you will have during the production and distribution. And calculate into your business pricing.
Other aspects to consider are:
- Space. Any production requires a certain space. Be sure you have the proper place to start your production. It must be clean, sanitized, large enough so you can prepare your tasty treats. Watch over your local regulation as well. See if you can use your home kitchen, or if you need a separate space to start baking.
- Equipment. If you are going to bake cakes you must have the proper equipment, that is different for cookies, cupcakes, bread, etc. For each kind of specialty, you must be prepared with the proper kind of equipment. Be sure you have the right oven, fridge, and kitchen utensils.
- Employees. Think about it: Does your business need anyone else to help? Maybe you need someone to make the deliveries or to assist you in baking. No matter the reason, you must be prepared to hire someone if it is the case. Study your business and try to see if or when you are going to start hiring. Again, pay close attention to your state and county laws.
- Supply. You can’t prepare food without the right ingredients. Put in your account all the supplies you may need to use when cooking. Don’t ever let any of your main ingredients lack in your kitchen. You must have in hand everything you need before starting baking. Organize your space and pantry.
5. Register your business
At last, but not least, comes the registration of your new business, or the transferred one. It must be registered according to any legal aspect that exists for home bakery and cottage food, both at state and local levels.
State laws must be observed. As an example, we have Indiana, where you can’t produce cottage food in your residence and Ohio, where to be considered cottage food it must be made in a residence kitchen. Therefore, look with close attention to understand your own state and local legalization. You can always consult the Harvard Law School: Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) report. In this report, they clarify what each state determines for cottage food and home bakery.
Besides looking for any regulation, you must guarantee that you have licenses, certifications, and health requirements. All to be sure that your business can function properly and legally. For State information about how to open a small business, you can consult the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Changes in the kitchen or baking space
Depending on the state laws for home bakery and cottage food you may need to change aspects from your residence. Some changes are necessary and can guarantee the safety of not only your business but also your family.
We are talking about installing sprinkler systems and updating ventilation for fire safety, an update to your home insurance will definitely be in order, to list a few examples. Plus, from a business perspective, you may want to separate your private pantry from the bakery storage to keep better track of supplies and expenses.
Also, be prepared for the health inspection. Provide the right equipment and storage so your bakery can always be certificated for operation and, this way, build up customer trust.
Free Form Templates for your Online Bakery
Web forms can be of great help when you’re dealing with an online business. Boost your sales using several types of forms. Here you have three free form templates that you can use to streamline the process of your online bakery.
Order forms are the best way to sell your products on a website. You can add the product photos and its description to the form, informing any details for prospects.
Contact forms help prospects get in touch with you about any questions they may have. Or even for suggestions and feedback. You can start a lead generation campaign to strengthen your online marketing efforts with a simple contact form. Therefore, build a contact form that is intuitive, quick to fill, and responsive.
Surveying to know how your business is performing helps you to understand your public and clients’ needs. This improves your business and boosts your sales. Since you are listening to the client’s opinion, you can make a better job and provide the best products for them.
Along with the free templates, and the possibility of building your form from scratch, MightyForms offer several features that make your job easier and improves any form you are building.
- Opt for image-choice fields, instead of text: The Image Selection Field allows the respondent to choose from an image. This is great for your online bakery since you can show off photos of your products, making the shopping process easy .
- Make sure your form is fillable in every device: Did you know that 79% of the purchases in the last semester of 2019 were made through a mobile device? So, if you want to be found through search queries and boost your bakery sales, remember to be mobile-friendly.
- Know when an order is made with Custom Notifications: With this feature, you can automatically get notified every time a new order is up. It helps you prepare the delivery and can organize your workflow since you will get a notification.
- Send a Success Message after each purchase: Set a message to be sent for every time someone submits a form. This allows the lead to know if the form was sent correctly and give your thanks for them having chosen your business. Besides, you can inform the next steps of the process.
- Send a PDF copy of the receipt: You can have all the submissions of your forms as a PDF copy. It can work as a receipt. This way you can give your customer an organized receipt and you don’t have to use your time doing the same work.
- Receive payments through Stripe: Now you can receive payments straight from your forms. This integration allows your clients to pay for your products when making the order. That makes yours and the client’s life easier. And that is a great advantage for your online bakery.
One Good Example
A quick online search query will make you realize that bakeries are going online. You may have an online bakery next door. Most of them, although, have a physical space. If you want to, you can start as only online and invest in a place as soon as your bakery starts giving you profit.
We now bring to you an example of an online bakery. They have diversified products, but their specialty is cake.
Terrapin Bakery is a bakery from Cleveland, OH. Their website is a good example of what we’ve been explaining. They have opening hours right on the top, so the clients can know when they can order. Their home page is a list of all their products, with pictures and prices for better visualization.
They also have a short lead generation form for a subscription for their newsletter. That is a great tactic for increasing sales and creating loyal customers.
To finalize, they bring a short description of each product and give the customer the option for pick up or delivery.
Check their page for inspiration. Then get started on your own custom order form here.