Back in 2003, very few bakeries made them well in the U.S. and even fewer were able to ship across the country
Austin, TX (PRWEB) February 18, 2010
- Panna Dolce recently launched an online bakery serving French macarons with Volusion’s award-winning ecommerce software.
- The online bakery racked up $2,000 in sales within the first two weeks of launching. Since then, orders have doubled week after week thanks to the built-in social networking tools in Volusion’s shopping cart, which allow shoppers to instantly share products among hundreds of social networks and news sources.
- Panna Dolce actively engages users by sharing news on its blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Google Maps, Yelp and Vimeo to build a loyal following. The bakery estimates 35% of its orders are from these sites.
- The online bakery surpassed sales projections for Valentine’s Day and estimates 50% of the bakery’s orders are from social networking sites.
- The online bakery has expanded into specialty grocery stores that include Chicago’s The Goddess and Grocer.
The Perfect Recipe
- After several trips to Paris in 2003, Katharine Greis and her husband Justin became infatuated with French macarons, which are delicate, chewy little pastry sandwiches filled with sweet cream and fresh preserves. Always having a sweet tooth, Katharine was looking to indulge her passion for sweets when she came up with the idea of starting an online bakery.
- The couple researched and taste-tested many samples at bakeries and restaurants from New York to Los Angeles looking for authentic tastes, but none matched the Parisian’s texture, flavor and distinctive look. “Back in 2003, very few bakeries made them well in the U.S. and even fewer were able to ship across the country,” said Justin Greis, co-owner of Panna Dolce. “We searched for the perfect recipe and balance of texture and taste but came up disappointed. We knew what we had to do next; make it ourselves!”
- The couple spent five years researching and testing recipes that were true to the Parisian taste and durable enough to ship across the U.S. without breaking. Finally the couple invented a special recipe to create the authentic experience at home. Lauren Robin joined the partnership and added restaurant and hospitality experience to round out the team. Once they had their recipe and business model perfected, building a solid ecommerce website was the next step.
The Right Platform
With Justin working as a technology consultant and Katharine and Lauren as event planners by day, the team wanted to focus most of their free time on broadening their customer base and distribution channels. They needed a platform that required little time for coding and maintenance. As a former owner of a web consulting company, Justin worked with several ecommerce platform providers, but found them all to be cumbersome and inadequate. He found he spent most of his time on maintenance and patching rather than running the business. Since sales of macarons were largely going to be for gifts, it was important the platform also have built-in capabilities that allowed shoppers to easily create gift baskets, custom/flexible orders, and wish lists as well as buy gift certificates. “Wedding favors turned out to be a real hit!” commented co-owner Lauren Robin. “Brides love the uniqueness and personal touches we can add such as monograms, logos and images to their customized wedding favors. We have several wedding orders lined up and custom flavors and colors are our specialty.”
They also knew a real key to their online business would be building a cult following, so social networking was key to spreading the word about the little goodies. After extensive research, Panna Dolce chose Volusion shopping cart software due to its comprehensive functionality. The couple spent about three months customizing the site, creating the blog and social media pages and launched right before Christmas. Volusion offered the following features and benefits that were critical to the success of the project:
- Social Store Builder™ and AddThis™ – Enables Panna Dolce to sell pastries on MySpace and Facebook with product sharing capability across hundreds of social media networks and news sources.
- Integrated SEO – Site is easily search engine optimized resulting in top-ranked Google pages for target key words without third party SEO programs, giving the business immediate credibility.
- Product Zoom – Enhanced merchandizing feature allows PannaDolce customers to instantly magnify product details.
- Integrated CRM – With an advanced ticketing system and all-in-one admin area, Panna Dolce can manage the entire order process and customer experience from a single area of the store.
- Unlimited Scalability – The easily-scalable architecture with advanced load balancing & dynamic resourcing helped Panna Dolce meet its demanding spikes in traffic garnered from national media coverage.
- Mission Critical Hosting – With 100% redundancy, virtualized hardware-independent systems, and continuous data backups with data clustering, Volusion offered Panna Dolce the same technology infrastructure that powers systems for financial institutions.
- Stringent Security – Data is secured against theft or manipulation with integrated IP blocking, 24x7 surveillance and advanced encryption. PCI/CISP certification also ensures maximum protection of card-holder data. Volusion provides Panna Dolce with a guarantee that their customers’ credit card information is securely collected, protected and stored.
- Customer Service – 24x7 customer service allowed Katharine to call for help at any time of day.
- Email System and Newsletter Features – Built-in email system allows Panna Dolce to easily build newsletters and communicate with customers in one central location.
- “We’re seeing instant success thanks to Volusion’s comprehensive platform,” said Justin Greis.
- “Without Volusion, building a solid social networking following would not have been so easy,” said Katharine Greis, co-owner of Panna Dolce. “I never thought social networking tools would generate such a tangible dollar-value return. To our surprise, we have more fans and followers than many well-established restaurants and bakeries; this has generated significant returns and driven qualified leads to our site. We are so grateful to our fans and followers…thank you!”
- “The incredible buzz around our products has been amazing,” said Lauren Robin, co-owner of Panna Dolce. “People kept on saying ‘we have heard and read all about you guys and can't wait to try your product.’ We are honored and lucky to have such amazing network of fans and friends.”
Volusion is a leader in e-commerce solutions for online businesses. Over the last ten years, thousands of companies have used Volusion to succeed online, including market leaders such as Disney, Motorola, Chicago Tribune, Michigan State University and Crutchfield. For more information about Volusion, please visit http://www.volusion.com.