It’s March 19th of 2020 and the Coronavirus outbreak has officially been declared a pandemic. Different countries are at different stages, but they are all expected to deal with drastic safety measures sooner or later.
As safety becomes a priority, citizens are suggested, and in some cases even forced, to stay home. They can leave the house only for serious reasons like working or going to the doctor. Social distancing is the new mantra: avoid crowds and any contact with other people as much as possible. In this scenario, retail stores are shutting down, either following the law or due to the lack of customers walking in. Many wholesale orders are currently on hold, and chocolate sales are far from what they should look like with the Easter season around the corner.
Survival mode is on. Craft chocolate makers are putting in place their best strategies to limit losses and keep sales up, while already working on thin margins. Here is how craft chocolate makers all over the world are fighting the Coronavirus crisis.
CLOSE RETAIL STORES
At this point, a retail store has become only a liability with no return on investment. Foot traffic is discouraged and nonexistent in many cities around the world. Even when safe distance is respected, stores remain a dangerous gathering point where the Coronavirus could spread like fire. Therefore, many craft chocolate makers have taken the heartbreaking decision to temporarily close their retail stores. They don’t just want to save money, but also safeguard the well being of customers and employees.
KEEP UP PRODUCTION
They haven’t stopped making chocolate though. Taking all the safety measures necessary for their workers (masks, gloves, safe distance), machines are running and chocolate is still being made behind the scenes. Craft chocolate makers are now taking the Coronavirus crisis as an occasion to catch up with production, experiment with new recipes, fix machines and optimize the bean-to-bar process, on top of keeping up with online orders.
PUSH ONLINE SALES
The online game has officially started. While people are chained to a specific location, chocolate products can still travel across national and international borders, at least for now. Craft chocolate makers are sharpening their online tools and redirecting their efforts. They spend more time on their laptops to enhance their websites and smooth out the purchasing experience online. Consumers can order comfortably from their homes while they are in quarantine, so this is the perfect time for businesses to go all in with online sales.
OFFER PICK-UP, LOCAL DELIVERIES AND TO-GO SERVICES
Those companies that decide to keep their retail stores open are opting for other services to reduce crowds and human contacts in and around their location. In some places, customers can place their order online and pick it up ready in the store within specific time slots. Some businesses also offer home deliveries in their local area. All chocolate products are offered “to go”, keeping in mind customers’ safety and making them spend as little time as possible in the proximity of the store.
To encourage online sales, craft chocolate makers are offering discounts and special bundles online. The substantial markdowns that typically belong to the festive season or to special occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are now applied during the Coronavirus crisis to keep sales afloat. Any number from 10% up to 30% is flashed online to attract old and new customers.
STRENGTHEN THE SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
If craft chocolate makers can’t keep up the relationship with their customers in person, they are doing it online. Companies are turning to Social Media more than ever to keep the communication open with their fans, show their behind-the-scenes and announce special prices and initiatives. With the extra time at their disposal, chocolate businesses are looking to increase the quality of their Social Media game to drive as much traffic as possible to their e-commerce websites, and to avoid that existing customers forget about them.
FREE NATIONAL SHIPPING
No more minimum amount to reach. Almost all craft chocolate makers are offering free shipping inside their nation borders. While international shipping fees still apply, customers in the same country can take advantage of free shipping regardless of the quantity they’d like to order. As many shopping cars are abandoned at checkout because of expensive shipping fees, this method is sure to allure many potential customers.
If free shipping and pick-up services are becoming the norm, some companies differentiate themselves from the crowd with more creative ideas. Some came up with larger sizes and bigger boxes to feed the entire family during the quarantine. Others are adding free extra treats inside every online order. Craft chocolate makers are trying out all the possible ways to satisfy and surprise their customers while generating enough sales to survive.
The craft chocolate community seems to be united in taking measures that drive sales and cut costs while not affecting the quality of the products offered. It will be a tough time ahead for many craft chocolate businesses, but it might also be the perfect occasion to be creative and implement new innovative solutions never experimented before.
Do you think the craft chocolate industry will survive the Coronavirus crisis?