Food & Beverage
How Adaptability Saved Easter for Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
A modern new website for a generations-old chocolate company
Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, based in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, has been crafting delicious specialty chocolates since 1936. With multiple generations of chocolatier experience, the Gertrude Hawk Chocolates team takes pride in its reputation for quality, craftsmanship and innovation in the industry. The company now has over 50 retail locations spread across three states, plus thriving wholesale and fundraising arms of the business.
With a strong brick and mortar presence, the chocolate company recognized the huge potential of expanding their online offerings in 2019. They engaged digital transformation consultancy Weidenhammer, who built their previous website, to analyze and suggest improvements for their eCommerce store. The goal was to enhance, optimize and find new opportunities for Gertrude Hawk Chocolates to drive online sales. They also needed a powerful eCommerce solution with enough flexibility to allow them to cater to the unique needs of their three audiences - general retail, fundraising and wholesale - all in one place.
Keeping this in mind, Weidenhammer found that Gertrude Hawk’s old custom built website could not support their ambitious digital plans . The site was dated, seriously behind on user experience, and not mobile friendly. And because it was custom code, it was very difficult to make small updates like content changes or adding coupon codes.
We were very thankful for the opportunity to get [the site] up and running so quickly. It did allow us to recover almost a third of our salesMelanie Nardozzo
Marketing Director at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates
Enhanced performance brings record peak season sales
Gertrude Hawk Chocolate launched its new Magento Commerce website hosted in the cloud in mid-January 2020. Aside from the creative refresh and fully responsive design, the site also streamlined shipping, payment and tax through integrations with key partners like ShipperHQ. The new site was immediately put to the test as the peak Easter season began.
“We launched specifically in January to accommodate our fundraising business,” said Melanie Nardozzo, Marketing Director at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates. “We’re so seasonal, everything revolves around Easter timing. We need to take orders in January and February and begin shipping in March in time for the holiday.”
After going live, initial results from the new website looked great for the chocolate company. Bounce rates plummeted and the customer experience improvements immediately drove more eCommerce purchases. “We saw some record days in February, as far as our online sales go, which I know the ColdFusion site would not have been able to handle,” Nardozzo continued.
But just when things were starting to ramp up, March brought sweeping retail closures and shelter-in-place orders as COVID-19 hit hard in the United States.
Adaptability allows for a quick pivot to save sales
With a large majority of their storefronts located in shopping malls, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates was suddenly left with only a few locations able to operate - right before their most important sales holiday.
Despite launching a newly improved website with growing traffic, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates depends heavily on their in-store purchases. “Our customers like to shop brick and mortar. And the week of Easter is when we do the bulk of our business, so we started to get really nervous,” Nardozzo said.
To quickly adjust to the changed business dynamics, Nardozzo reached out to Weidenhammer to gauge the feasibility of curbside pickup for the stores that remained open. While they knew the logistical groundwork was not in place yet, the Gertrude Hawk team needed any solution that could keep them open during their peak season.
Thankfully, the answer was surprisingly easy. Weidenhammer knew immediately that ShipperHQ could make it work. Since Gertrude Hawk Chocolates was already using ShipperHQ for their shipping rates and options at checkout, it was as simple as adding a new feature and setting up the right locations.
“That’s the value of partners that have built solutions around a particular niche. They are able to get that up and running really quickly. We didn’t have to think about and figure out how to architect a solution. There was one that was already built-in,” said Aaron Sheehan, Managing Director of eCommerce at Weidenhammer.
In eCommerce, every minute matters when it comes to sales. The high level of customizability of Magento Commerce, coupled with ShipperHQ’s plug-and-play store pickup feature, allowed Gertrude Hawk Chocolates to pivot fast and minimize the losses from closed storefronts.
“We were very thankful for the opportunity to get that up and running so quickly. It did allow us to recover almost a third of our sales,” Nardozzo said. “We delighted our customers with the experience and made them very happy. They were able to get their chocolate bunnies and keep the tradition of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates this Easter.”
We delighted our customers with the experience and made them very happy. They were able to get their chocolate bunnies and keep the tradition of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates this Easter.Melanie Nardozzo
Marketing Director at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates