It’s become one of the primary avenues in which your business is marketed to a potential customer. Online exposure can be the deciding factor that determines whether or not a shopper even visits your brick and mortar location. In developing your business’ web presence, there is an endless multitude of outlets ranging from social media to personal websites.
Maintaining your brand
It is essential to understand that your bakery’s online identity will exist whether you like it or not. Shoppers will review your restaurant on Yelp, they might post comments about your store on Facebook and Twitter, and even post a retro-filtered picture of your product on Instagram. This can all happen without your effort or interest. They might also post negative things about your establishment. For better or worse, your brand is online. One of the best things you can do is embrace this change and treat it as a digital extension of your storefront.
Having a website, updating it consistently, and keeping design and style current with your brand is imperative to maintaining your company’s image. This is just as important as the sign on the front of your building. It lets people know your business before they even step in the door. With the average visit to a website lasting less than roughly 10 seconds, it’s your business’ digital elevator pitch.
If you don’t have marketing skills, don’t be afraid to find someone who does. In some cases this might be an employee who is technically savvy or a marketing firm. Either way, this is not something to ignore.
For instance, Thomas Willetto, owner of Indulge Bakery in Lafayette, CO, reached out to a marketing firm for assistance during the early stages of the company’s online development. While some of the services were too expensive at the time, the consultations and advising gained from the relationship was essential to their company’s online development, he says.
“I think it’s critical to our success to have an excellent website that is very consistent with what you would find in our building,” Willetto says. “If your website is cheap, consumers see that.”
Building the website
It starts with your website. You don’t necessarily have to be able to afford a fancy (and expensive) designer to build your website. There are a number of website builders that are designed specifically for consumers who have little to no experience with web development. The sites provide premade templates that can be easily altered and adapted to fit your company’s brand. In many cases, these sites are very affordable, if not free.
Also, do your best to keep the designs simple and clean. The most important information on the page should jump out to viewers quickly, so don’t clutter your homepage with irrelevant or less than important announcements.
Wix is one of the more user-friendly web building resources, yet it also offers advanced design features. In addition, it’s ideal for the foodservice industry, providing a number of templates designed specifically for restaurants and bars.
“Today’s user-friendly, free web tools cancel both technological barriers and budgetary concerns,” says Eric Mason, director of communications at Wix. “Platforms like Wix make it easy to integrate your bakery's menu online, embed an OpenTable reservation form, and add social features popular with customers.”
Especially in the wedding cake industry, one can argue that the sales begin online, when the bride or groom first view pictures of a bakery’s cake. To attract the attention of these visitors, it’s critical to offer a large amount of photos of your bakery’s products. Whether you’re targeting a bride-to-be or an individual looking for a great dessert gift-box, the more photos available the better.
“So many people are shopping online, particularly brides. They do a ton of online stuff first before they ever step foot in the place,” Willetto says. “So I think it’s critical that you have a really sharp, well-defined online presence.”
In addition, don’t be overly protective with the photos. Encourage your followers and friends to share your work online. A quick way to get credit for your work is to include a watermark of your bakery’s website on the photo. That way, if an individual sees your work on Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter, they can easily track you down for a potential purchase.
“The money may not be exchanged until a customer enters your brick and mortar storefront, but the sale can begin online with a well-designed site and easy-to-use tools designed to help you convert web visitors to paying, repeat, customers,” says Mason.