Last week I pulled the trigger, bought out another chocolatier, and in typical "Insane Brad" fashion gave myself 7 days to turn their business around, renovate, and rebrand it as mine (I did it and video taped each day's progress for sharing at a later date). At the same time I decided to give my company's website a complete facelift - adding one more color to our standard blue and brown.
I would be interested in your opinion of the new look - good bad or ugly. For those of you who have been to my previous site, you'll probably see a lot more content as well.
I await your criticisms and accolades with baited breath....
Thanks in advance (I think).
Oh... Here's the site: www.SoChoklat.com
The first time I tried to load it, it took forever and I gave up. This time it was fast. I am not a fan of light colored text. The blue and pink are a bit hard to read. Personally, I like a darker text. A side note--when a new customer comes in, do you offer samples of the chocolate? How would a customer know which chocolate pairs with a particular flavor? Do you offer a variety of chocolates in your truffles, or just the bars?
Thanks for the feedback.
In answer to your questions, we don't sample at all. Given that I make several different dark chocolates out of several different beans, we would literally have to feed people. For a chocolatier who uses one variety of dark chocolate, sampling makes sense. However it doesn't in our case.
I have also found that sampling negatively affects sales. Chocolate for the most part is an impulse purchase, and if the customer's sweet tooth has been satisfied by a sample, they often purchase less than they were originally intending. This is in line with a common phrase in the diet and health industry "Never shop for groceries when you are hungry. You will almost always over purchase and make bad choices." Customers have entered the shop to BUY chocolate. I'm certainly not going to feed it to them free.
Just like the wine industry does, there are in depth descriptions of each of our chocolates. This helps customers who prefer fruitier chocolate or earthier chocolate.
With regard to our truffles, we have standardized on one variety of milk and one variety of dark chocolate for them. It doesn't make sense to offer multiple milks and darks, when all of our truffles are made to order, and the flavor nuances from one dark to the next are masked by the 100's of combinations of coatings and centers. As far as truffles are concerned, they are simply a confection that uses chocolate, and not celebrates chocolate.
Hope that answers your questions.
brad you once offered me your opinion on my marketing materials, and since you asked i will do you the same service.
the site seems like a bunch of pages full of small hard to read text apparently written by you in the same voice as you use here on choc life. no interesting pics. almost no detailed information on your very numerous fillings and rolled in coatings for your products. what's hot diggity made of? what's a pastel sequin? after i click a link it turns light pink and i can't see it against the white background. when i clicked "i promise" it took forever to load the order form and when it did it was ugly and confusing. some pages had the text cut off like you could scroll down but you couldn't. the heavy text and lack of imagery makes it seem antiquated and a little amateurish. there's more but that's the gist, good luck with your new location.
Thanks for the feedback Brian!
Your " Our Difference" page made me want to get on a plane and fly over to experience the difference first hand LOL. Text on the other pages sounds very inviting as well and I actually wanted to order some undoubtedly delicious truffles only to discover that I couldn't . Bummer.
P.S. Not smart phone friendly at all.
Thanks for the feedback!
I tried something different with the programming on the bottom div, and it's clearly not working as intended. Over the weekend I'll definitely be making viewable on mobile devices.
I have to agree with others who state that the site is not very smart phone friendly. I visited the site on an iPhone 4s and in landscape mode viewing the entire contents of pages (bottom scrolling) is difficult. On the catalog page (and this is not just an issue on the phone but on my laptop) the text in the blue bar across the top is not completely visible. From a usability perspective, the "I Promise" page should be shown only once in each visit. Or, if you want to, rotate the photo each view during a visit.
However, the larger issue for me is the overall tone of much of the writing and what appears to be the core from which it is written.
I think it safe to say that most people who get into the chocolate business get into it because they love chocolate. From what I read on your "about the choklatier" page, you got into chocolate because you got pissed off. I mean, really angry. Your anger is still palpable in your writing, now, what, nearly eight years after the incident? What I get from your tone is that you are not the "bad boy" of chocolate that you think you are - you come across as the angry petulant child of chocolate.
I find the expressed point of view tiresome. Immediately tiresome. Based on the content and tone of the writing of your current web site, I would never, ever, do business with you. And, if asked for my opinion, I could not recommend that anyone do business with you.
The other reason I cannot make a recommendation to others to engage in commerce with you is, of course, that I have never tasted any of your confections so I can't render an opinion on them. Nor am I ever likely to because oh - I can't actually buy them without traveling to Calgary. I did a little research and I can't find any other reviewer whose opinion I trust that has ever reviewed your products. So I can't even cite them.
My advice to you - if you really care and are serious about really, really listening to what ChocolateLife members have to say, is:
It's just chocolate.
You're not solving world hunger or campaigning for world peace.
Take a deep breath and repeat after me, "It's just chocolate. It's just chocolate. It's just chocolate. It's just chocolate." Now consider rewriting your web site by appealing to your customer' love for chocolate - not as an outlet for your anger. It is a matter of what you say -- and how you say it.
My $.04 (considering inflation and the exchange rate)
Thanks for your opinion. As a really pissed off consumer - turned petulant child - turned successful chocolatier, I would have to disagree with some of what you wrote and say that I'm definitely on the right track with my marketing.
People are tired of being misled and lied to by marketing propaganda from businesses in all industries. My journey is what it is, and I'm not going to lie to people about why I started in this business. If I were to pad it, or otherwise sugar coat my story, that to me would make me a hypocrite and undermine the entire purpose of me starting this business venture in the first place. After all, who would believe anything written about a business when the owner himself lies about why he got into the industry?
My journey and story isn't about chocolate. It's about starting and growing a successful business with honesty and integrity, while at the same time standing up to deceptive competition.
...and I must say, my business is very successful. Apparently your opinion differs from the thousands of people who purchase enough of my products to allow me to have bought two other locations this year alone with the business's own cash!
If you had read the last two paragraphs of "my journey", you will read that along the way I actually began to truly enjoy the chocolate industry.
Again, though, thank you for your opinion. After all, I did ask for it.
I couldn't agree more with Clay! From a female perspective I thought it sounded egotistical. As a consumer I wouldn't be drawn to the product. I'm visual. I want pictures and I want a description that will draw me in to buy something that no one else in the world seems to make. There is too much writing for me to remain interested in going through the pages.
From the website perspective, I'm "used" to having a scroll bar on the far right side of the page. Took me a minute to realize it was right next to the text. The light colors for navigation are hard to see as others have mentioned. Some pages loaded more slowly than others. On the page with the listing of centers and one picture, I couldn't scroll down to read past "We have now processed over 63,000 orders, and NEVER ONCE has a customer..." Honestly, I don't really care how many orders a chocolatier has processed. If I want some chocolate, I'll order some (if the site allows).
I'm glad your business is successful Brad but if you don't like an opinion, you seem to come back with how one person's opinion might be different than the "thousands" of others. I like Clay's direct approach. It's just his honest opinion along with everyone else's.
Best Wishes on your acquired business Brad. I'm glad your business model is so successful for you!