Nearly 85% of Americans go online at least once a month — in many cases, to browse, research or compare products digitally, according to a 2018 Visa study, “The Future of Commerce.” Still, less than half of small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) conduct business online, pointing to a serious opportunity for growth. So, where does your bakery stand?

Retail bakeries increasingly are pushing their brands forward into the public eye through online channels, especially using social media. More are starting to sell bakery products and branded merchandise online. An even higher percentage take orders online for instore pickup.

In order to win prospective and existing customers, according to the Visa study, it’s important for SMBs to have a digital presence during the discovery and evaluation stages of the customer shopping journey.

There are two essential questions to ask yourself here: Who are your fans — your community? How do you leverage digital tools to reach more of them — and more frequently — to reinforce their takeaway that your bakery is important enough to help make their day a little more special?

The quickest way to start is to bolster your brand recognition through social media channels, particularly on Instagram where you can post eye-catching photos and engaging videos.

HayleyCakes & Cookies in Austin, Texas, boasts a whopping 337,000 Instagram followers and posts witty Instagram videos that feature clever phrases (“I am moody when I need foody”) that Hayley Callaway, owner and baker/decorator, pipes by hand on each sweet treat. Earlier this year, the bakery participated in Facebook’s whole birthday stories launch by offering free cookies. “If you don’t see a design you already love, I can match or customize any invitation or design you have in mind. Never hesitate to ask!” Callaway tells customers in an engaging manner.

Limited-time offers, as well as special events, can also do wonders for your brand recognition. On National Cannoli Day on June 16, Carlo’s Bakery (home of The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro) honored its beloved cannoli by turning them golden for the day. Limited-edition cannoli were chocolate-dipped and then hand-painted and sprinkled with gold.

The annual Pie Night series at Dominique Ansel Kitchen in New York City is a popular tradition that continues to get bigger and better. Dominique Ansel has announced the return of Pie Nights this year, taking place on Tuesdays through Thursdays in September and early October. This year’s edition features a special twist because Ansel has invited some of his friends and food industry celebrities to contribute favorite recipes, including Martha Stewart.

Top Instagram Followers for Retail Bakeries

  • Carlo’s Bakery: 1.9 million
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes: 631,000
  • Magnolia Bakery: 628,000
  • Georgetown Cupcake: 603,000
  • Milk Bar: 599,000
  • Dominique Ansel Bakery: 405,000
  • California Donuts: 403,000
  • HayleyCakes & Cookies: 337,000
  • Tartine Bakery: 269,000
  • Levain Bakery: 170,000