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Click & Collect Survey Results

In December, we emailed all customers who had used the Click & Collect option at any point in 2018.  We also enclosed little flyers with every Click & Collect order collected during November-December

We invited everyone to take part in a short on-line survey so that we could help plan the transition away from offering Click & Collect, in a way that helped ensure as few customers as possible were adversely affected.  The response wasn't particularly high, which could lead us to believe that most customers weren't particularly bothered about Click & Collect one way or the other, but we gave everyone the chance to have their say, we've taken on board every single comment and have collated all the results, summarised below

You know us pretty well by now, so we can be completely open and even a little tongue-in-cheek with our Click & Collect customers.  We hope you won't be in any way offended by the results or our comments - we just want to be totally honest and up-front with everyone as we prepare the business to take another important step

The summary below is pretty detailed and that's because this is an important matter for many Click & Collect customers, especially those running small cake businesses.  We take it seriously and we want to give you detailed explanations of our decisions.  We realise that not everyone will read this page but it's all here for customers who want to know more

We'll also be contacting all our Click & Collect customers directly with more detailed plans for how we can help re some of the ideas outlined below, so please watch for further emails

Please note that because some customers ticked more than one box, the totals don't always add up to exactly 100%

 

1. The main reason I use the Click & Collect option is . . .

 

  • it saves me the delivery charge                                       28%
  • it is more convenient than having an order delivered     18%
  • it is faster than having an order delivered                       17%
  • I can order things last minute and collect right away      39%

 

We totally understand that many people work full time and being in to accept deliveries isn't always possible.  However, we also reckon that nowadays most people order from Amazon etc and can manage deliveries, especially if there are options available

As we've often said before, Click & Collect was never supposed to be a faster alternative to having an order delivered, as this simply puts all our other customers at a disadvantage.  We've always asked for 24 hours to have an order ready and 3 hours for Click & Collect Express, as this is the same timescale for having an order shipped.  Unfortunately we've been put under increasing pressure to have orders ready virtually right away - sometimes customers place an order and leave home right away, giving us 15 minutes to have it ready or even order on the phone in the car park, expecting to collect immediately, or expect to collect out of advertised hours.

Some customers have told us that "we should be able to do this", illustrating that it's something they've come to expect, but what they don't see are the hundreds (literally) of orders in the queue in front of them.  In some occasions Click & Collect orders have actually caused other orders to be delayed, so we could still have a disappointed customer to deal with somewhere down the line.  We love to help where we can - we work through lunch every day etc - but there's a limit to what we can offer and this just isn't sustainable any longer

Saving the delivery charge seems an obvious answer to choose but many customers drive quite a distance to reach us, so we sometimes wonder if there's any real savings between fuel and your valuable time.  For customers running businesses especially, we doubt if collecting from us actually saves you anything at all - although we accept that many customers find it a handy option

Last minute ordering turned out to be the top answer, which surprised us a little.  We've been in the industry for nearly 40 years, so we appreciate that people often order cakes with little notice, putting cake makers under pressure.  However, this situation is the same for every cake maker in every part of the country, so it's not something unique to cake makers who live close to Lesmahagow.  There's no easy answer; for most cake makers space and money are limited, but we've always suggested that customers keep just a small extra stash of essentials in stock, if you're going to accept those last-minute orders

 

 

2. Have you ever had a Cake Stuff order delivered by DPD? . . .

 

  • yes     27%
  • no      73%

 

This result was really interesting - almost three quarters of all customers using the Click & Collect service have not experienced a Cake Stuff order delivered

Going back to the point about 'convenience' in question 1, we now realise that the majority of Click & Collect customers may not fully appreciate what a Cake Stuff delivery involves because they've never experienced one - especially with all the 'In-Flight Options' available to help you manage your delivery

Now we're not suggesting that DPD are perfect, but over the years we've tried just about every courier company out there and, believe us, none of them are perfect.  The accepted industry measure for a courier's performance is the percentage of orders they successfully deliver on the first attempt.  DPD successfully deliver over 97% of all parcels at the first attempt, making them the industry leader in the UK.  And to put that number into some kind of context, DPD have over 9,500 vans out delivering and handle over 1 million parcels every single day

Impressive as this is, the main reason we use DPD for the majority of our deliveries (we also use APC Overnight and Royal Mail) is because they send our customers an automated text/email alert confirming a one-hour delivery time slot.  So from the start you know when your order will be delivered and if that time slot doesn't suit, simply use DPD's In-Flight Options to choose a more convenient time, change the delivery date, specify a safe place, leave with a neighbour or have the order delivered to a local DPD Pick-Up Shop (Halfords, Sainsbury's, Matalan, Currys PC World plus lots of independent local stores, Post Offices, pharmacies, etc).  The bottom line is that we're an on-line business and over 98% of our orders are shipped out for delivery - we can't change that fact but we're always happy to help find ways to make it as convenient as possible for our customers

With so many vans on the road, DPD may deliver different boxes to you (if your order is in more than one box) on different vans at different times of the day, just like when you order from Amazon, but you'll get a one-hour time slot for each delivery and the chance to change these.  Most orders are delivered complete by the one van at the one time

As for delivery times - the website shows a delivery estimate at checkout and this is our 'outside estimate'.  Virtually all orders (99%+) are actually delivered sooner than the estimate.  Again, we realise Click & Collect customers have been used to getting their orders very quickly but everyone else seems really happy with our delivery timescales so we don't think these should cause you any problems

 

3. The most beneficial offer for me on future orders (if there was no Click & Collect option) would be . . .

 

  • a lower delivery charge                             32%
  • a lower free delivery order value             14%
  • a free 'upgrade' for faster delivery          19%
  • an extra discount on my entire order     35%

 

The solution we're obviously looking for here is a way of saving you some extra money so that you're not worse off if there's no Click & Collect option on offer, or at least we minimise any extra expense if you do feel any worse off

There's no 'local delivery rate' from DPD as many orders and part-orders will be shipped from warehouse B, but we're looking at various options where we can offer you either a lower delivery charge or subsidise the delivery by applying an extra discount to your order

It may mean we create a special Customer Group, made up of customers who previously used Click & Collect and automatically apply some special prices and discounts to help balance out any delivery charge.  We'll be in touch about the solution - more on this below

4. If I need supplies and there's no Click & Collect option available, I am most likely to . . .

 

  • place an order and have it delivered              71%
  • buy from a shop that I can visit elsewhere     29%

 

We appreciate the display of loyalty - that is both appreciated and reassuring.  Buying in person from an actual shop is sometimes a good option, especially if you have questions to ask about a product or want to compare shades of ribbon etc.  We had a shop for over 30 years - we know how it works, we know the benefits and we know the disadvantages

We're not trying to be a shop - we're now a completely on-line business.  This means we can offer a massive range (more than even the largest craft shops), hold substantial stocks and offer competitive prices.  The vast majority of our customers prefer to shop on-line but it doesn't suit absolutely everyone and we realise that, which is why physical shops still have their place if you prefer to shop that way

Our range is fast approaching 10,000 different products and all of them are sold for well below RRP, even before extra Trade or Wholesale discounts are applied.  No shop could stock that range - even our local Tesco doesn't carry 10,000 different product lines!  For a customer who makes a couple of family cakes a year it probably makes little difference, but a cake maker running a home business will soon feel the difference of higher shop prices and a limited selection of products 

5. Without a Click & Collect option available, do you think you are more likely to stock up on essentials by placing slightly larger orders, but less often?

 

  • yes                  15%
  • no                   52%
  • don't know    33%

It seems a simple question but it touches on an underlying problem: our average order value is just over £70, but our average Click & Collect order is £16.  Let's be clear - we appreciate every order regardless how large or small and we're very well aware that some Click & Collect customers spend hundreds with us every week but the fact remains that Click & Collect orders are much smaller on average

Link this to the results of question 1 where the top answer was "I can order things last minute and collect right away" and it is clear that Click & Collect is being used for a high proportion of smaller, last-minute orders.  It's not that Click & Collect customers spend less - it's that they tend to place smaller orders, more often

 

6. Would you be willing to allow an extra 24 hours for Click & Collect orders?

 

  • yes           14%
  • no            76%

 

Following on from question 5, the above result reinforces the idea that Click & Collect is being used for lots of urgent, last-minute orders where the customer can't afford to wait any longer

The reason we asked this question was to see if we could build a little extra time to have an order transferred from warehouse B back to warehouse A for customers to collect

We reckoned that given an extra 24 hours it may have been possible to have your order (or part-order) shipped to us here at warehouse A from warehouse B and for you to collect everything as normal, but this result tells us it wouldn't be possible as the large majority of customers would not be willing to allow us that extra 24 hours

We tried!

7. Would you be willing to agree to a minimum order value for Click & Collect orders?

 

  • yes - £10 minimum           24%
  • yes - £25 minimum             4%
  • no                                         72%

In exploring the idea of having orders shipped to us here at warehouse A from warehouse B, for customers to then collect as normal we knew we would need to allow an extra 24 hours (question 6)

We also wanted to see if we could cover the cost of having those orders transferred between warehouses, without charging the customer a delivery charge

The cost of shipping orders to us from warehouse B could be covered by having a minimum order value, but this result tells us it wouldn't be possible as a large majority of customers would not be willing to accept a minimum order value

Again, we tried!

conclusions

The survey was hardly scientific, but it was designed to give us an insight into why customers used the Click & Collect service.  It's clear that Click & Collect is mostly used for smaller value, last-minute orders and that the customers who rely on it don't want to see it go.  We take all that on board

OK, so we're now going to let you into a bit of an industry secret.  We're doing this to show that (a) there is some genuine logic (backed up by lots of data and experience) behind the decisions and that (b) we want to be completely open with you about the situation

The value at which a company offers free delivery is intimately linked to their average order value

In plain English:  a company that offers free delivery at £50 will have an average order value of £40-£45; a company who offers free delivery at £30 will have an average order value of around £25, and so on.  In fact, you can often make an educated guess as to how busy a company is by looking at their free delivery threshold.  In general, the lower the free delivery threshold, the higher the product prices - the higher the threshold, the lower the prices.  This is why you can often buy a single product on eBay or Amazon Prime with 'free delivery' but why most wholesalers only offer free delivery over £150

There's also the related point that free delivery on low value orders is normally only possible by using budget couriers, which means a lack of tracking, slower deliveries and a lot more inconvenience.  We could use a £3.99 courier but although it looks good on paper, in the real world our customers don't want to wait 3-5 days for delivery, not knowing which day it will arrive, let along which time of the day

As we said above, our average order value is just over £70 and our free delivery threshold is £75 - the link is clear.  Our prices are competitive and our free delivery threshold is half that of most wholesalers, so we sit somewhere 'in the middle' between shops selling at RRP and bulk wholesalers.  Many of our customers run small cake business and are able to order everyday essentials from us without always having to buy full packs as they would with a wholesaler - they can order exactly the shapes and sizes of boards they want, a few different sizes of boxes, a few packs of coloured sugarpaste etc and still enjoy some of the most competitive prices in the UK

So, yes, if you spend £10-£20 (remembering the average Click & Collect order is £16) then you may well be able to order elsewhere with cheaper delivery and save a little overall, if you ignore other important aspects like choice / range, delivery speed and customer service.  However, if you spend £70-£80 (as the majority of our customers do) then we are certain that Cake Stuff offers the best option in terms of range, overall price and delivery experience

It's very difficult to talk about the 'value' of orders with customers - it's so easy to say the wrong thing and cause offence.  We can only keep emphasising that we value every order and never, ever take any order for granted - we've worked long and hard to build the business and we would never suggest that we're only interested in larger orders.  However, there's no getting away from the fact that Click & Collect orders make up around only 2% of all our orders but they have an 'impact' on our overall operations far greater than that 2% suggests

The business has now grown so much that there is a real strain on the warehouse and everyone who works here.  A couple of customers commented that we should simply build a new warehouse that's large enough - we looked at the idea but we don't have a spare million quid to spend.  We also looked at extending the current warehouse as we have a large yard, but the disruption it would cause at the warehouse back door with deliveries coming in and out was just too serious - we couldn't survive 3 hours without clear back door access, let alone 3 months!

It's an uncertain time with Brexit looming and huge economic and political uncertainty casting a shadow over every decision we take.  Even so, we are investing in the future and growing our business.  As we work harder than ever to secure supplies of popular products from around the world at prices that keep our customers happy, we have to ensure that the business is geared up to cope

Massa Ticino from Switzerland; Saracino from Italy; the raw material for cake boards from Germany; Callebaut from France & Belgium; Gum Tragacanth from Iran; sugar from around Europe; Cake Dutchess from the Netherlands; Satin Ice, Agbay, Marvelous Molds, Ateco, Evil Cake Genius, Mosser Glass, Poly-Dowels, Wilton and many others from the USA . . . we rely on international trade more than most people may realise.  Allowing the business to grow is not about us being greedy - it's about Cake Stuff being able to survive in a brave new world

 

solutions

Our customers rely on us to supply them with what they need to run their own businesses.  They quite rightly expect a massive range of products, good quality and low prices - they also expect most products to be in stock and for deliveries to be fast . . . very fast!  In an increasingly faster and ever more demanding market, we have to continually make changes and improvements in order to remain competitive and provide our customers with the service they require

The solution we've come up with is to use a specialist fulfilment warehouse (we call it 'warehouse B') where we have oodles of storage space and lots of extra people to pick and pack orders.  For this to work efficiently we have to keep certain products in warehouse A and others in warehouse B - it simply doesn't make any sense to keep the same products in both locations.  This means that warehouse A will specialise in lots of the specialist products and warehouse B will handle bulk everyday products like boards, boxes, sugarpaste and so on.  Warehouse B needs to take these bulkier products in order to create the space we need at warehouse A for new products.  As time passes, you'll find more and more everyday products unavailable for Click & Collect, as these will only be stocked at warehouse B

We will therefore be suspending the Click & Collect option at the end of February

We realise that, for some customers, this means they'll shop elsewhere (they've told us!) so we want to thank them for their valued custom over the past years and hope that we can be of service again sometime in the future

For most customers, this means we need to help you get used to ordering in a slightly different way - planning a little more in advance and allowing a little extra time for orders to be delivered, rather than collected.  We really hope most of our Click & Collect customers will be willing to give the new system a try.  We've got lots of exciting new products in the pipeline for 2019 plus we're increasing production of Couture sugarpaste yet again to meet demand, so it's going to be an exciting year!

In return, we promise to work hard to minimise any financial impact the end of Click & Collect may have.  We'll be in touch again very soon via a special email newsletter letting you know about what we've come up with regarding special prices, discounts or delivery rates

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey - we'll never be able to please everyone and, on that note, here's a quote from one of our heroes: the sadly missed chef, author and documentary maker Anthony Bourdain.  He's obviously talking about food, but the point he makes applies equally to the challenges Cake Stuff has faced, the decisions we've made and the changes we are still in the process of making. . .

Bad food is made without pride, by cooks who have no pride, and no love. Bad food is made by chefs who are indifferent, or who are trying to be everything to everybody, who are trying to please everyone... Bad food is fake food... food that shows fear and lack of confidence in people's ability to discern or to make decisions about their lives


We can no longer try to be everything to everybody.  We're now a completely on-line business and, in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace, we need to concentrate all our efforts on being the best on-line cake supplies business we can possibly be.  98% of our orders are shipped out to customers so we have to shake off the last vestiges of having been a retail shop, even although that was more than 12 years ago

We have the confidence to continue to build this business and to make decisions that will allow this to happen.  We believe our customers will continue to benefit from an even better selection of cake decorating and sugarcraft products from around the world, from competitive prices, fast delivery and great customer service.  We can only hope that even if you don't agree with our decision to suspend Click & Collect, that you will at least understand our reasons for doing so

2019 is going to be a really exciting year - we genuinely hope you'll come along for the ride and allow Cake Stuff to continue looking after all your cake-making needs

January 2019

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