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Dave’s Sweet Tooth may break $1m revenue after e-commerce scale-up

Douglas Yu

By Douglas Yu+

16-Feb-2017
Last updated on 16-Feb-2017 at 10:54 GMT2017-02-16T10:54:12Z

Toffee brand Dave's Sweet Tooth said holiday season represents around 40% of its overall business.  Photo: Dave's Sweet Tooth
Toffee brand Dave's Sweet Tooth said holiday season represents around 40% of its overall business. Photo: Dave's Sweet Tooth

Michigan family-run toffee brand Dave’s Sweet Tooth has reported a 300% sales growth along with a 2,500% e-commerce business increase in 2016 after launching a new website through the Shopify platform last year. 

The company - established in 2011 - said the new website has helped it reach new customers across the US and Canada.

“It has given people a consistent place to buy our products and it has allowed us to utilize email marketing and Facebook advertising to both acquire new customers and market effectively to existing customers,” Dave’s Sweet Tooth’s owner and COO, Andrew Chmielewski, told ConfectioneryNews.

“When we appeared on the Good Morning America Deals and Steals segment last May, the system scaled flawlessly and handled over 3,500 transactions in a 12-hour period and helped us grow our email list from 700 to over 5,000 in just one day.”

Starting with seasonal products

Dave’s Sweet Tooth’s Shopify-powered website was intended as a stage to introduce its seasonal flavors, according to a release.

The company’s 2016 limited-time holiday flavors, including white chocolate vanilla bean, cranberry pecan, pumpkin spice and dark chocolate peppermint toffees, have helped boost online traffic and grow its customer base through Q4, Dave Sweet Tooth said.

Chmielewski said the seasonal flavors were developed to offer existing customers something new and to entice new buyers.

“They have been a great way for us to test new ideas and get honest feedback about what people like and do not like,” he said. “Using new ingredients has also afforded us the opportunity to partner with other local Michigan brands and expose our products to their customer base as well.”

“The holiday season is a very busy time for us,” Chmielewski added. “We do about 40% of our business for the entire year between November 1 and Christmas.”

“The new [seasonal] flavors were received with immediate sales and success, and I’m sure that you’ll see some of these flavors returning in 2017.”

Keeping pricing competitive throughout supply chain

Chmielewski said the cost of ingredients and packaging supplies is on the rise, and smaller-scale candy firms, like Dave’s Sweet Tooth whose e-commerce business makes up around 30% of overall sales, need to “get creative” when sourcing them in order to keep pricing competitive.

“We are constantly price shopping and calculating the best time to buy. We do not stock pile our ingredients, but we buy in larger quantities when we are busier in order to get the best deal,” he said.

“Customers also want low cost or free shipping options, and we’re doing everything we can to provide them with such. Every time we’re able to lower our costs, we try to pass on the savings to our customers. We believe this will result in more orders and ultimately, more customers.”

“Without reasonably priced shipping options, our customers would be less inclined to purchase online and more likely to patronize traditional retail locations,” Chmielewski continued.

Staying relevant as a local brand

Dave’s Sweet Tooth locally sources its coffee beans from Chazzano Coffee in Ferndale, vanilla from Beanilla in Rockford, and dried cherries from Shoreline Fruit in Traverse City – all within the state of Michigan, according to the company.

“As a local brand, our main strategy is to stay relevant in our community by sponsoring events and actively demoing our product,” Chmielewski said. “This allows us to create content to share through our social channels and PR opportunities to garner local and national media attention.”

In addition to the new company website, Dave’s Sweet Tooth also sells its products on a few third-party online retailers, including Mouth Foods, Scoutmob, and Amazon.

“They have a much wider reach than us, we view it as a great way to expose new customers to our products,” he said.

Dave’s Sweet Tooth is currently getting ready to launch an online subscription service, called “toffee of the month club,” in which subscribers will receive a new variety of toffee each month that will be exclusive to members and available to non-members at a later date.

The toffee maker believes it has room for growth and is projected to break $1m in revenue for the first time in 2017. 

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