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The Client: Polestar Hearth
Polestar Hearth is an independent, community-supported bakery in Guelph, ON. In 2007, owner Jesse Merrill began making delicious bread the slow, old-fashioned way in his backyard and quickly gained a loyal customer base. Polestar Hearth now operates out of a brick-and-mortar shop and now employs a team of a dozen craftspeople.
The Challenge: Scaling up online ordering during the COVID-19 pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Polestar Hearth accepted daily bread orders primarily by phone or e-mail. This workflow was unsustainable as customer demand increased because:
- Answering phone calls and individual e-mails was time-consuming.
- Calls went unanswered if staff or the phone line was busy, resulting in missed sales opportunities.
- Jesse could not accurately predict how much product to make on any given day, leading to food wastage or missed sales.
Jesse knew he needed to shift Polestar Hearth's business model. Customers wanted to place advance orders for old-fashioned bread and pantry items. Jesse needed a solid, reliable online ordering system that customers could access during off-hours or when staff could not answer the phone.
Jesse tried working with multiple restaurant management providers and e-commerce solutions, including Shopify. However, these solutions are designed primarily for retail. No one was able to provide online ordering and weekly inventory management that worked for bakeries.
"We spent months of struggling with workarounds and make-dos and countless hours of attempting to make these one-size-fits-all providers fit us. Nothing worked until we reached out to Sociavore."
What Sociavore provided
A custom branded e-commerce bakery website
Detailed online sales reports
Concierge website setup
The Solution: A new e-commerce website with bakery-specific inventory management tools
Jesse noticed a difference right away when speaking with the team at Sociavore. Sociavore explicitly designs online management tools with restaurant and hospitality management in mind. The Concierge Setup team quickly built a custom-themed bakery website with online ordering and worked with Jesse to upload bakery menus, photos, and more.
Using Sociavore's commission-free online ordering management feature, Jesse can limit daily inventory for each bread type. When online ordering customers choose a day for pickup, the website only shows the bread types available for that specific day. Sociavore provides Jesse with the flexibility and control to launch new products, create new special event menus, and adjust pickup schedules to suit his business needs.
Best of all, Sociavore's built-in reporting allows Jesse and his team to monitor item popularity and sales trends. Jesse and his team can use these reports to predict how much bread to make throughout the week and reduce food wastage.
"Sociavore has the only truly workable system for "limited daily inventory," so that we are not drawing from Thursday's fresh bread on Tuesday or Friday. No one else, to my knowledge, has figured out a simple, reliable answer to this need that is so fundamental to how bakeries operate."
The Result: Better operational efficiency & higher sales
Sociavore helps Jesse increase operational efficiency. The bakery's signature sourdough bread takes three days to make and has a short shelf life, so having a daily inventory prediction model is critical. Sociavore's sales reports help Jesse plan how much sourdough to make on any given day.
Sociavore has also reduced a lot of stress at the bakery. Jesse and his team know they have a solid, reliable online system that customers can access in off-hours or when they can't answer the phone.
Polestar Hearth grew in many ways during the first year of the pandemic, and one of those streams was online ordering. Customers enjoy the simplicity and convenience of placing advance bakery orders from their mobile device or computer, and Polestar Hearth has more new and regular customers than ever before.
"Many customers have found our Sociavore system to be helpful and to meet their needs well, and we've seen a huge shift to online ordering. We've seen many regular customers make the shift to our website, and we've seen many new customers through this avenue, too."