Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery in Redford, Michigan is a third generation family owned business that manufactures traditional and modern meats, sweets and savors from the UK and Scotland, and also imports groceries, candies and gifts from across the pond. Having been there for 71 years, no one would fault the bakery for simply sticking to what made it successful – but it doesn’t.
Earlier this summer, Ackroyd’s announced the closure of its retail bakery in the Detroit subway. This is no cause for concern, as sales are on the rise. In recent years, the bakery has moved to ordering online, shipping its products to all 50 states. This has allowed the bakery not only to survive the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but also to thrive. For the period March 1 to July 31, 2020, revenues are up over 150% compared to the same period last year.
While some of this revenue can be attributed to not hosting events and pop-ups in the spring and summer, which generally result in more costs than benefits (the purpose of events / pop-ups is brand awareness and experience), the main reason is to be able to offer its products made from scratch to consumers across the country.
Ackroyd’s has spent over a decade perfecting its packaging and shipping systems, with the goal of growing its national brand and business through direct-to-consumer sales. Megan Ackroyd, President of Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery, discusses the evolution of the business model and its benefits.
Cook: What led to the decision to permanently close the retail store and focus solely on shipping?
We have been looking for some time to restructure our retail business. Our real shift to e-commerce began in 2018: we saw first-hand the change in consumer buying behavior, as the bakery’s online sales grew year on year. Then the pandemic forced our hand.
How has your online ordering system improved?
We no longer allow pre-orders. We have a real-time inventory control system in place, which is best for our customers and allows them to order exactly what’s available when it’s available. And it’s better for business. We’re seeing faster order fulfillment, less product loss, and fewer other customer service issues. Real-time inventory control, combined with our strategic 1-3 day shipping model, ensures that when customers place their order, they receive the items they ordered – in just a matter of days.
What advice would you give to a bakery looking to make this transition?
First, consider the type of product you are making – this is the determining factor for successful shipping and delivery. Can your product arrive after a day or two of shipping, and still have the taste and look you want? Second, your website is your storefront, so it should be user-friendly AND work for you in the background. A successful ecommerce site is not something that can be set up quickly.