Some new businesses struggle to find customers and get noticed. Others find themselves challenged by their own success as unexpected opportunities come knocking. The Posh Cheeseboard Co. of London fits into the latter category.
Founder Penny Rumming launched the business shortly before the pandemic, offering delicious, handcrafted cheeseboards and charcuterie. Her team creates artistic arrangements of cured meats, cheeses, crackers, dried and fresh fruit, vegetables, spreads, and sweets with a focus on local.
Challenge: Being ready to shift and scale with demand
At first, Penny’s business came primarily from larger, higher margin events — such as weddings and showers — and from corporate customers. When the pandemic struck and those kind of in-person gatherings were put on hold, she realized that she had to shift to a different clientele – families and households eager for at-home treats, made to order. A target market she had not previously considered ideal became critical.
“With restaurants shut down, I decided to start small,” she said. “Family-sized boxes that were easy to pick up or drop off. It was amazing how quickly people caught on to the idea and loved it.”
As demand grew and pandemic restrictions eased up, Penny found herself with more business on her hands than even before the pandemic. She had to staff up, secure larger commercial kitchen facilities, and invest in new point-of-sale and other digital tools to support more efficient e-commerce.
Building and maintaining relationships with both family and larger event customers required stronger and more consistent communications through social media in place of relationships previously built through in-store, in-person traffic.
Solution: Digital Main Street shows there is always more to learn
The Posh Cheeseboard Co. is Penny’s second business in the past 14 years – she is no stranger to what it takes to run a successful venture. But a small business owner never has enough hours in the day. Penny needed help to take care of all the aspects of digital marketing, advertising and online customer engagement that she realized were essential during the pandemic.
A Facebook ad led her to Digital Main Street (DMS), a government-funded program specifically designed to support small customer-facing businesses across Ontario with grants, training, hands-on help and various resources.
Penny qualified for a DMS $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant. The grant, along with access to DMS’s free educational resources, helped her to expand her business’s e-commerce capabilities and online point of sale. She also built out its communication channels with customers, including with a new email system.
Penny discovered she still had a few things to learn through DMS about taking her business to the next level.
“I found DMS great, and I learned a lot in the end,” she said. “At first, I honestly thought, ‘it’s probably going to be a little boring and I probably would know a lot of it,’ but that wasn’t the case. I found there was a lot for me to learn about email automation and how to connect to customers online. It gave me fresh ideas about how to grow even more.”
Results: A global business that lands orders while the owner sleeps
With DMS, Penny has tackled the two-fold challenge of reaching both larger event and corporate customers, as well as families and households. Her new e-commerce portal has turned The Posh Cheeseboard Co. into a 24-hour business that is now taking orders from around the world, at any time, free of the manual point-of-sale processes which limited Penny before.
While it’s still early to put hard numbers on the growth, Penny affirms that the trend is tracking up.
“I have seen a huge increase in people using my website,” she said. “The professionalism of my website and the way it is streamlined now for e-commerce puts it far ahead of many other businesses in my industry. Customers like the convenience of being able to shop online, whenever they want.”
The e-commerce storefront also makes it easy for Penny, as a single mom who likes to travel, to book off time from the business without leaving any customers caught short.
And it all came down to appreciating that she still had a few things left to discover.
“There are no negatives to working with DMS,” Penny said. “No matter how long you have operated a business, there is always more to learn.”
Penny’s story is just one example of how small businesses across Ontario have taken advantage of the Digital Main Street Ontario Initiative.
For more information, go to www.digitalmainstreet.ca