Bob Howland, chief digital officer for Dawn Foods, has witnessed valuable updates and innovations over the past year since Dawn Foods launched its 24/7 online ordering system that allows bakers to add items to their online cart and place orders whenever it is most convenient.

BAKE: What are some key takeaways and learnings from the first year of Dawn’s innovative eCommerce rollout?  

HOWLAND: At Dawn Foods, our values are rooted in our commitment to our people, products, and customers. We call this our Dawn Circle of Excellence, and it has been an important guide for the eCommerce platform rollout. With the platform rollout rooted in our commitment to customers, we’ve both seen and learned the power of directly listening to them. Our team could create and add all types of features to the platform we think are important to bakers, but it means nothing if we aren’t asking for their feedback to inform our decision making. Because our platform is built using a modern digital architecture, we are in a great position to be more agile, flexible, and fast to meet the needs of retail bakers. Our customers have felt the positive effects of this effort too with three in four reporting being satisfied with the online experience. 

The importance of leadership buy-in has been another key learning. The baking industry isn’t exactly known for its digital commerce and for many it can be difficult to see a digital future. In Dawn’s case, before we launched our eCommerce platform, we focused our energy on local salespeople and partnerships.    

BAKE: What are some examples of key customer benefits?

HOWLAND: From connecting directly with customers, we learned that convenience and time savings are two key benefits they enjoy from using the platform. Before, bakers could only place ingredients and supply orders through their sales representatives during work hours in the work week – a process that many bakers in the industry still go through today. Now with Dawn’s eCommerce platform, retail bakers can access baking supplies 24/7, 365 days a year.   

The increased convenience and time savings has allowed Dawn to become an even stronger partner for retail bakers, who now have more flexibility to spend time focused on their business and customers.  

BAKE: How does eCommerce enhance productivity and customer response? 

HOWLAND: Our eCommerce platform enhances productivity by making all of the 10,000 products from our catalog accessible to our customers online. Not only are our customers enjoying the platform – nine in ten report that they intend to continue using online ordering in the future, they are discovering products through our online product catalog, and we are seeing higher order values from online customers compared to customers ordering directly through their sales representative. 

We also take our customer feedback seriously and try to identify ways to quickly update technology that addresses their needs. For example, within a month after our launch last year, we were already collecting customer feedback and made 40 different updates to the customer-facing interface of the platform. We continue to make improvements and, this year alone, our team has delivered five major releases that included over a dozen new features, such as the ability to import shopping lists to the platform and place special orders online.   

BAKE: How is Dawn driving growth for itself and its customers as the platform continues to see week-over-week increases in customer adoption? 

HOWLAND: While customer adoption has been strong in 2021 with a week-over-week growth in both setting up online accounts and customer-placed online orders, we still have much work ahead of us. To help us and our customers grow, we are building a “Voice of the Customer” program. This program will ensure we have an online customer experience that drives growth for both Dawn Foods and our retail bakers. The program includes regular engagement with customers to gain both qualitative and quantitative research results that provide insights into how we can further improve the customer experience online.