The Traditional Chocolate Company (TTCC)
TTCC is a fictional company … the challenge presented below is however typical of the kind that almost every established business with a website faces at some time. (NB. Whilst in the text below the Marketing Director mentions the TTCC website, this is a fictional business, and the site does not exist)
You are being asked, as an external consultant appointed by the Board of TTCC, to present your recommendations regarding their future digital strategy, as described below.
Consultants Briefing: Prepared by the Marketing Director of TTCC
I was recently appointed Marketing Director of The Traditional Chocolate Company. The company has been a retailer of Fine Chocolates and Seasonal Chocolate Gifts for over 30 years. Our unique brand has been built on our own “Signature Chocolate” range.
Just before I joined, the Directors commissioned market research. The research was carried out in-store by a respected market research agency who talked to our customers. It confirmed what the Board have always believed – that it’s a respected brand, known for its quality and with prices that were certainly higher than basic chocolate products but which reflected the quality, the gift ideas and the packaging.
We own 50 shops throughout the UK. All our own Signature Chocolate is produced and shipped from a facility near Manchester.
Traditionally the shops, together with national press and occasional TV advertising, built the brand and sales. In recent years the decline of town centre shopping and increasing costs have challenged our business model to the point where profits are becoming marginal. Moreover, whilst seasonal chocolate gifts are still popular, cheaper imported products are becoming a serious threat.
The Board are of the opinion that expanding via our own stores is far too demanding on capital and resource and other routes to market must be explored.
In addition to our own shops we sell our products on the shelves of a major gift card franchise. They have over 300 outlets across the UK and now account for around 40% of our sales. This is significant and has saved us shop overheads however our product gross margins are obviously much lower when sold via this franchise arrangement.
Our website has been operating for around 10 years. There has been very little development over that time and its capabilities are limited. It is used mainly as an ‘online brochure’ and content updates have been few and far between. However, it does have some ‘online authority’; and the page content is regularly indexed by search engines. Although there is an ability to buy chocolate gifts online, the lack of a proper digital marketing strategy and low levels of investment has meant that visitor traffic numbers are low, and online sales have been disappointing. The cost of shipping gifts by post is also thought to be a factor especially for low value orders. We have calculated that online sales direct to customers currently account for 5% of total sales with an average order value that is slightly more than the average order value when a customer visits one of our shops.
The Board of TTCC are very keen to make better use of the website and to break into new chocolate related market segments.
We realise that to make a real impact online we might need to expand our range and our CEO was reading recently about the growth in Gluten Free products. He asked me what I thought, and to be honest I could really do with some help here.
I convinced the Board that we should spend some budget on research and I am delighted to have been able to secure some of your time on this.
I need you to prepare a written report that I can take to the Board. Remember that we only have a fairly basic knowledge of the internet and we need a much better understand of digital marketing if we are to be confident of spending money on this.
I have prepared a list of questions that I would like you to address in your report and look forward to hearing back from you soon.
(Note: please remember to fully explain and justify all recommendations that you make. Include examples where you believe it helpful and evidence of research undertaken).
- What do you think of Gluten Free chocolate as an addition to the product range? Is it something we should be excited about and can you show us evidence to support your opinion?
- It’s obvious that our website needs to be found by more potential customers.
- We know that ‘content’ is important and we need to be far more proactive in future. We don’t want to waste time and effort on content production – therefore how can we be more effective in our planning and development of content for our website in future?
- Also, could you recommend a specific digital advertising tactic that might work for us?
- I am going to meet with our website developers soon. It’s important that they either redevelop our existing site or build a new site, in a way that is search engine (and user) friendly. Please list for me a few of the things that should be prioritised in a briefing document for them. (Maximum 4)
- As a retailer, every month we produce board reports on a wide variety of performance indicators. These reports currently include some basic information on our website performance. The numbers are supplied by the I.T. department and include something they describe as ‘hits’ and server traffic numbers but no meaningful analysis, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone reading it really knows what it all means. In future, we require a report on website performance that managers and the board can relate to and which prompts actions and decisions. I believe that we have Google Analytics installed on the website; however, nobody has had the time to understand how to use it. Could you please describe for me the kind of information that Google Analytics might supply for us in future that will lead to real business performance improvements over time?
TTCC Report Specifications
In producing your report, you are advised to check the conventions/guidance for report writing set out by various organisations. For example, this guidance has been produced by the University of Calgary.