E-commerce success tips – case study: Half Baked Cookie Co

At Penn Parcel Box we are big supporters of all small e-commerce enterprises, and so we decided to interview some of our favourites, for their advice on how they run their online business! We spoke to Amber Johnson, owner of the brilliant Half Baked Cookie Co, a unique home-delivery baking business based in Kent, England.

Tell us about your business?

Baking is a passion of mine; I’m self-taught and started baking for friends and family for special occasions. Throughout lockdown, I wanted to create something to enable everyone to bake, so Half Baked was born. I offer pre-mixed cookie dough in a variety of flavours, so all the recipient has to do is bake them. People order for themselves or send to loved ones as a gift. 

What are your tips for creating a great experience for your e-commerce customers?

The thing I find most difficult about using other e-commerce sites is getting lost, so clear navigation was a high priority when building my website. Ensuring that customers can navigate their way around your e-commerce website easily is very important. For example, on most pages there should always be a quick way to take you to the most important page (in my case the ‘order now’ page, where you can actually purchase products).

What are your tips for managing order fulfilment efficiently?

Being super clear about delivery times and using a delivery notification system to give customers email updates when orders have been confirmed and dispatched. This enables the customer to have live updates on their order. I think it is super important to have clear communication with your customers, enabling questions to be asked via email or social media whenever they like.

What are your tips for reducing admin time in your business?

Staying organised and setting specific days in the week to catch up on admin tasks. Working more than one job can make this difficult, but I find I can stay on top of things by setting these days aside as it helps me manage my time efficiently.

What are your tips for reducing costs in your business?

Definitely research and shopping around. Just because you find one price for something somewhere you normally would shop, it’s important to do your research as it’s guaranteed about ten other places will stock a similar product, if not the exact same. I try to be as cost effective and eco-friendly as possible when shopping for my business, whether that be for produce, packaging products or software.

What are your tips for managing your e-commerce business efficiently?

Balance is key. It’s all about giving yourself set days/times to work on different things. I also think feedback is a huge part of managing your e-commerce business efficiently. Running a business by yourself means one pair of eyes are on the company all the time; having feedback enables you to get a different perspective of things and allows you to improve and adapt your e-commerce business in the most effective way possible.

What are your tips for saving time within your e-commerce business?

If there is really something that you don’t have the skills to do, there is no shame in asking for help. Like all of us, we all started somewhere, and I have found myself stuck for hours trying to fix a problem and have then wasted a lot of time. I have found that by asking for help from a professional or even a friend who may have more knowledge than myself, I have been able to save so much time.

How do you stop your e-commerce business from taking over your home?

I’m very lucky in the fact that my family is extremely supportive of my business and my ambitions. They have been very accommodating, allowing me to have specific parts of the family home which are purely dedicated to Half Baked. If you are not fortunate for space and have to run your e-commerce from home with other people living there (like myself), I suggest boundaries and clear and honest conversation with the people you are sharing your space with.

What are the products/software/digital platforms you couldn’t do without in your e-commerce business? Definitely Canva – it has been a lifesaver for me! I’m the least arty/design member of my family, so Canva has enabled me to create my logo, website elements, social media graphics, business cards and even banners for my markets. I used to use Shopify for my ecommerce but have recently moved over to Wix as my store is growing by the month. Both have been extremely simple to use and I’m lucky to have had lots of help along the way to build them both.

What are your tips for reducing e-commerce returns?

Luckily, I have never had a return! In fact, I hope this will never happen as my product is perishable; with the product being food, the returns can be slightly different due to food going out of date. For this reason, I have a section on the website which states all the information that you need to know about the shipping of my products. Also, I find that having clear communication links that enable customers to contact me about their order if there is anything they wish to change before shipping, which helps to avoid returns. I have a very clear returns policy on my website which states all the FAQ’s about returns if one were to ever happen (touch wood it doesn’t).

We loved hearing Amber’s tips for managing her e-commerce business effectively and we hope that her insights help you to find ways to improve your own online enterprise. Why not take a look at her website, we are sure you will be tempted by the delicious half-baked treats that she has to offer, as well as her business insights! For more information on how the Penn Parcel Box can help the smooth running of your e-commerce business by helping to manage deliveries and returns more efficiently, get in touch with our friendly team on 01424 429 641.

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