Bakers Journal

Concepts for Success: Adjusting your business

August 17, 2020
By Diane Chiasson

Changing your bakery services during a pandemic

This pandemic has hit lives and livelihoods around the world. It has also changed customers’ shopping habits, and bakery operations are trying to adapt.

Every day, more consumers buy online. They are looking for curbside pickup, and delivery for products they would have typically bought in-store. You are perhaps wondering if this is the end of your bakery: Not a chance. Based on consumer research, more than 95 per cent of Canadians still prefer to buy at a physical location, particularly when it comes to bakery items. Canadian consumers still prefer to go to their local bakery store to see fresh products, buy “baked on the same day” items, and experience personal service.

There is no known evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through foods such as baked goods. Make sure to tell your customers about this fact.

1. Sell during peak hours
Selling more during peak hours is a must for any bakery operation. Allow yourself and your team members plenty of time to follow up on new hygiene guidelines, restock and keep your customers and team members healthy at all times.


Your bakery operation is probably operating at some level of reduced hours. Ensure that your hours of operation coincide with peak sales times. Start by evaluating the volume of people in your bakery and when they are most likely to purchase. Mornings are often hectic at bakery stores when customers like to buy fresh-from-the-oven baked goods. It’s an opportunity to cross-sell and upsell breakfast items and coffee. Afternoons give customers the chance to pick up a sweet treat for their afternoon break.

2. Analyse, adjust, and adapt
You should take a thorough look at your product range and pricing.

As a small bakery business owner, one of your most important decisions is how to price your bakery items accurately. If your prices are too high, you will lose buyers to your competitors, but if your prices are too low, you will lose money. Consider bundle pricing to offer a group of related products, features or services all for one price. Bundle pricing simplifies marketing and selling strategies, so you don’t have to create promotions for individual products.

Your near-term success will likely depend on maximizing your existing inventory while redefining your pricing strategy to optimize your sales. Identify and focus on high-interest products that represents your brand. Now is the time to keep your costs low and to appeal to a broader audience. Hold off on more complicated recipes and decorating, and start to focus on what you can make quickly, affordably, with minimal waste.

3. Start a loyalty program
A ‘Loyalty Program’ can as simple as a business card that gets stamped or punched with every customer visit. After a certain number of purchases, customers receive a reward. It could be something as simple as “Buy 5 muffins and get the 6th free”. Promoting loyalty cards is a great way to offer your customers a safe way to increase sales and boost revenue. In addition to increasing sales, a loyalty program will yield word-of-mouth marketing.

According to a Nielsen study, over 70 per cent of global consumers would rather purchase from a retailer with a loyalty program than one without. It often costs more to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones. Look for a program works with your budget, your point-of-sale (POS) system and your bakery. Start promoting loyalty cards. Advertise your loyalty program on your website and in your social media campaigns.

4. Promote gift cards
If your bakery operation has thin margins, gift cards will certainly help you stay afloat until the crisis is over. Gift cards will provide customers with a safe option to make a purchase they can redeem at a later date, which can help free up cash flow for your business. To help reduce the risk of human contact, you should consider a digital gift card program to include in your social media and email marketing campaigns.

5. Focus on customer service If you are looking to increase sales, invest in your staff.
Instead of trying to sell, they should focus on finding ways of helping your customers. Make sure that every member of your team is passionate and knowledgeable about what you sell. Train your employees to identify a customer’s needs and wants and to create great buying experiences. Empower your sales associates to interact with your customers, and to wow them within the first few seconds. In-store expectations have changed towards a focus on customer and employee safety, and this will require clear and thoughtful communication throughout your bakery store. You might spend some time adjusting visual merchandising and bakery layout to focus on high-interest categories.

6. Be unique and creative
More families are together at home; they could benefit from kid-friendly activities to do around the house. Consider offering “Bake At Home” kits where customers can buy baked goods that they can take home and bake themselves. Or, sell “DIY Baking” kits with pre-measured ingredients, supplies, recipes, instructions and tips from your team. Try selling a dozen of cookies with a “Pre-packaged Decoration” kit for decorating cookies and cakes. Always spread the word about the kits on social media.

© 2020 Chiasson Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Call her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or , or visit

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