Selling Fudge without a store
Times are changing, recent advances in online technology give us all the ability to create an online store without the high overheads of bricks and mortar store.
Even if you already have a brick and mortar store, having an e-commerce site can be a great way to expand your customer base to people who aren’t in your geographical location.
What I want to do is show you how to either start a fudge business from home or if you already have an existing business, how to expand your audience and market your fudge online to grow and scale your business.
My goal is to answer every question you might have and help you with everything you need.
Understanding consumer buying patterns
Think back to market stores where you sell your fudge from.
How does the transaction usually take place?
You’ll often provide new samples to customers so they can try your product with low to no risk.
If the customer will enjoy your products, they order a larger quantity.
Customers who know, like and trust you who are regulars will buy in bigger bulk quantities because you have that pre-existing relationship.
Typically the best customers who buy in bulk and who love your products and tell their friends all about it were once the customer you gave a free sample.
There is an evolution that we see that is often referred to as the value ladder.
A customer begins their relationship with your business with low cost and low-profit sales (or even free samples) but as the relationship grows, they’re much easier to sell to, will buy in bigger quantities and are much more profitable.
This is referred to as customer lifetime value.
There is a clear journey that a customer goes through that often begins with the sample.
This is something we are well aware of at the market but completely forget when it comes to online stores.
I see it all the time with online stores in every industry, not just fudge, where they try to sell bulk items to customers who have never experienced their fudge.
While I’m not suggesting you give away your products for free.
I am suggesting you use this consumer buying pattern as a framework to wrap your marketing strategy around.
There are three customer temperatures that we need to think about when it comes to selling fudge online.
These 3 customer types will interact with your brand very differently, as such should be considered when building your marketing strategy.
The 3 customers types are cold, warm and hot.
A cold customer is someone who has never heard of your brand and never tried your product, warm is someone who has heard good things about your brand, possibly visited your website but has never tried your fudge.
Hot customers are the best, these are people who have purchased your fudge. Hot customers are significantly easier to sell to because they have already had a great experience with your fudge.
Cold customers are people who have never heard of your brand or tried your product.
These are the hardest to convert, but most important.
But if you can learn how to convert cold customers, you will be able to grow and scale your company to be as big as you want.
Cold customers are typically non-responsive to bulk offers.
Think about it.
If someone asked you to buy a box of fudge you’ve never tried, would you?
Cold customers are much more responsive to lower cost offers.
These customers types want to try different fudge since they don’t know which fudge they like they want to try a range.
This is why sample packs and mix packs convert really well.
Sample/mix packs give the cold customers a chance to try your fudge, with low financial investments and low risk.
Once they’ve tried your fudge and found out which ones they’ve enjoyed, they will now be much more likely to purchase bulk orders.
Warm customers are kind of like cold customers but know of your brand.
Maybe from a friend who told them about your fudge or read some good reviews online.
The buying habits are closer to cold traffic than to hot traffic but are significantly easier to convert than cold traffic.
This is why influencer marketing works.
Influencers have their own communities that trust their opinion, so when they recommend your products they have already been sold on it’s value, this is what’s referred to as social proof.
Warm traffic can also be people who have visited your website or social media accounts but haven’t bought yet.
This is why many brands have installed Facebook Pixel on their website.
The Facebook Pixel is a snippet of code that you install on your website that allows you to create Facebook ads targeting people who took specific actions on your website.
Let’s say someone visited your website, looked at your chocolate fudge but didn’t buy, well you could create an ad that features your chocolate fudge that shows up in their newsfeed.
Retargeting ads are a great way to recapture lost sales, you can also set retargeting ads to people who have added items to their shopping cart but didn’t purchase, these are people on the fence and a good retargeting ad could make the difference in a sale.
People who have purchased from you are more likely to purchase again (as long as your product it good and provided a great customer experience of course)
Hot customers are ideal because they are significantly easier to convert than cold and warm customers and they also typically buy products that have higher profits margins.
Your goal should be to create a large pool of hot customers who know, like and trust your brand that you can promote your offers to.
Whether it’s a new promotion or a limited release fudge, hot customers are the foundation of any business.
The key to scaling your online fudge business is converting more cold customers and increasing the lifetime value of your hot customers.
Both of these customer types require different approaches.
The way we do this is to create products that meet the criteria that they both look for.
I refer to these products as front end and back end products.
Front end products are designed to appeal to people who have never tried your fudge, they’re typically low cost, low profits but are great to bring in new customers.
I’ll often recommend mix packs or sample packs as a front end offer, this will let customers who have never tried your fudge to see what they like.
Back end products are designed for people who have tried and enjoy your fudge, back end products higher costs, higher profit margins, these might be boxes of fudge or bigger packs.
The campaign in action
If you were to use this strategy in real life, this is how it would look.
You run Facebook ads targeting people who like fudge on Facebook offering your sample pack which features your most popular fudge.
The customer buys your Fudge pack and is captured by your Facebook pixel and is added to your mailing list.
You can create ads that target people who have purchased your fudge and upsell them on bigger packs.
Meanwhile using your mailing list to alert the same customers about promotions, offers and limited releases that they may be interested in.
Best way to sell fudge
I honestly believe online is the best way to sell fudge, because when someone purchases through your online store, you have the ability to follow up through your email list or retargeting ads to create a connection with the customer.
Compared with selling fudge at a market or from bricks and mortar store, your online store gives you a much better way to communicate with people who have purchased your products.
This means you can create much stronger customer loyalty, provide more value and generate a higher lifetime value per customer.
Setting up a store
How you set up a store will depend on a couple of factors.
If you already have a website that you’re happy with, I’d suggest setting up your store on a subdomain, a subdomain is a separate website to your main website, so instead of your URL being www.example.com/shop, it would be www.shop.example.com. Subdomains act like a completely different website to your main site.
If you have a website you’re unhappy with or don’t have a website, this could be a great opportunity to build an online store you’re proud of.
There are 2 main e-commerce solutions that you can use that can let you sell online, Woocommerce and Shopify.
I have an article on how to make an e-commerce store even if you have no experience and I’ll show you the entire process from the beginning.
The benefits to WordPress and Woocommerce is that you have much greater control of the design of your website compared with Shopify, I use Woocommerce for my client’s website as I have a lot more control and freedom over the end result.
Because Woocommerce and WordPress is open source software, I find there are a lot more third-party developers creating more functionality through plugins.
If you want other functionality from your website such as blogging and to have more control over how your website looks, I would recommend Woocommerce.
Shopify is a completely separate content management system from WordPress.
Shopify is far more user-friendly than Woocommerce but is a lot more rigid and doesn’t offer the same visual customisation.
However, WordPress was built from the ground up to be a blogging platform and Woocommerce is a plugin to give it e-commerce functionality, whereas Shopify is built specifically e-commerce.
Because of this, there tends to be a lot less friction for Shopify as an e-commerce platform
Which is for you?
I would recommend Shopify for people who are inexperienced building websites or people who plan on selling fudge exclusively online.
However, if you’re someone like me who likes to have a lot more control on how the website looks and wants a more holistic content management system, then I would look to WordPress and Woocommerce.
If you are unable to generate traffic, your website will be a ghost town.
While you can make a successful business with small amounts of traffic if your systems are optimised, the ability to generate traffic is a cornerstone of a successful business.
Currently, I believe Facebook ads are an under priced opportunity, Facebook ads are a great way to access new customers and retarget website traffic without having to invest a lot of money.
While I understand most people don’t like to pay for traffic, you have to understand that social media is where people’s attention is and organic traffic has been throttled by some of the big platforms such as Facebook, there have a financial incentive to reduce the access to your Facebook fans, their goal is to get you to spend money.
Retargeting ads are one of the greatest features of Facebook ads.
In order to be able to make this work, you need to install the Facebook pixel on your website.
I recommend setting up a Facebook Business Manager, rather than using a personal account.
To set up your Facebook Pixel, head to business.facebook.com, hover over the top left icon and click Pixels>Add New Data Source>Facebook Pixel then give your pixel a name and enter the URL.
After you’ve created
Now you’ve setup the pixel, we need to create a custom audience, we need the custom audience as our targeting in our Facebook ads.
From here click Events Manager>Audiences>Create Audience>Custom Audience>Web Traffic, from here, you want to select your pixel, all website visitors, in the past 180 days and name your audience then click Create Audience.
Because you’ve setup this audience, you can now retarget your website traffic with Facebook ads.
Lookalike Audiences are what sets Facebook ads apart from any other ads platform.
How lookalike audiences work is you can get Facebook to analyze your custom audiences to identify common attributes and target ads to the 1% of Facebook users that match those attributes.
This is how people scale their business with Facebook.
Lookalike audiences allow you to position your ads in front of Facebook users who make common attributes to your customers.
To set this up, you need head to business.facebook.com, then click Business Manager>Audiences>Create Audiences>Lookalike Audience.
Select your source which will be the customer audience you’ve created, choose the location that you serve, keep the audience size to 1%.
Should I start an online fudge business?
The internet is levelling the playing field.
With some of the opportunities to generate your own distribution channel, I think selling fudge online is a great idea.
But you must consider the customers buying patterns.
I’ve seen so many people have successful market stores or bricks and mortar stores but can’t seem to transition to the online space.
Taking a smart approach and modelling what works.