The Chocolate Life

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Hi chocolate lovers&producers!
I have just started the Ecole Chocolat and have been looking at the web pages of several chocolate artisans&manufactures. I am wondering, have you bought online, through internet, chocolate, how often and what kind of experiences have you had? Satisfied or any problems if chocolate was not ok? Postal costs?
And from chocolate artisans I would like to hear, how much you sell online compared to your selling from your boutique? How have you developed this part of your business?
I am living in Geneva and have never bought chocolate online because I am in a happy situtation to be surrounded by chocolate boutiques.
Happy to hear every feedback,
Greetings from Geneva
Kirsi

Tags: buying, online/internet, selling

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Replies to This Discussion

Hello Kirsi
Unfortunately I can't help you with your question because although I have searched a lot I can't find any manufacturer from who I can buy retail. They only sell if you are a professional, at least in Europe.
But I would like to ask you something. I am thinking of starting the courses in Ecole Chocolat on January, and I would be very grateful if you could tell me some things about it. Especially, how do they do it on line. How can they test what you do. Does it works with a web camera?

Thanks a lot
D.
Hi Despina,
Thanks anyway for your reply. I can recommend warmly the Ecole Chocolat.
For me it is a lot of work so I never manage 1h/day or one day/weekend as they have calculated. There is always somebody online answering your questions so lot of help. And the colleagues, this time around 30, mainly from US, do have very often more experience than I have.
The school is based on your reports you are sending to teachers on your work and research so they do not use web camera. You just need internet connection for getting all the material online. Lot of instructions and ideas so this keeps me busy. And the tutors answer in detail and give the advise. The course is very practical orientated and in that sense just what I was looking for.
By the way, saw that you are going to Vienna: great city. I can recommend the well known Sacher and all the other chocolatiers. I ate the Sacher and other chocolate cakes so did not buy any instruments but I am sure you'll find them easily there!
Please keep in touch. I saw you are also making chocolates just now,
Kirsi
I have purchased online from companies in the US shipping to me in Canada. I did not have any issues with melting or the chocolates arriving in poor condition. Shipping was expensive as most but 1 insisted on using UPS which charges very high border charges. The one that shipped USPS (by post) had very reasonable shipping charges - what I'd pay if I was ordering from within Canada.

Like you, I took the Ecole Chocolat course and it was soon after this that I did my purchases. I don't have any quality chocolate products close by. The closest would be a 5 hour drive - and I wanted to try some artisan products. At this point, I don't think I would do much online buying unless the product was very special - or - the shipping costs were very reasonable and I knew the product was good. Most of the chocolates I did order online were not that good :(
The only ones I liked were Lillibelle's (Jeff is a member here) and they were the ones that were willing to ship USPS! No hassle!

I have also shipped chocolates across Canada - but don't do much of this. I offer the option as people like to have gifts sent. I charge a set amount so they know shipping costs up front. I don't add a handling fee - basically, what it costs me is what I charge. If I did a lot of it that might change.

But here's something interesting... I send chocolates clear across Canada in the summer months. It took about a week to arrive and they were in perfect condition! I was very pleased with that.
That's interesting, Lana!
How much was the shipping from US to Canada, compared to product price/weight?
And shipping across Canada; do you use normal post services?
Kirsi
I'm sorry, I don't recall what I paid for shipping when I ordered online - it was a few years ago.

Yes, I use normal post service - well, actually expedited - but it's not that much faster than regular. This is my blurb:

Shipping: I now offering shipping using Canada Post, Expedited Parcel.
Shipping within BC - $9.00
Shipping to the rest of Canada - $12.00
*other shipping options available for additional cost.

This may seem expensive to those of you in the States but we, in Canada, are used to those high rates! You can barely ship a tissue for less than $10.

I figure if they order a lot and the charges are more - that's OK - I'm making up for it in the volume of sale. I don't use gel packs - but I don't do a lot of shipping. I read a packaging technique somewhere and this person said it had never failed. Package your items, then bubble wrap this package and put it in another box. Like I said, the shipping across Canada in very hot summer weather proved it's validity!
I have bought chocolates on line from several places before I started my own website. I never had anything arrive damaged. On the other end, the shipping end, we have had maybe 1 or 2 boxes not arrive good, one was because the address they gave us was wrong. It came back beat up and melted after 10 days. We remembered the person was a doctor and googled his name and town, found the right address, called and shipped a new box despite it not being our mistake. We do a lot of on line business. Shipping is expensive, not just postage but also packing, gel ice etc. best to negociate a rate with Fed-X. I recently joined an organization that I will get 40% off Fed X rates so that savings will pass to the customer. We have shipped packages to 1/2 dozen foreign countries as well and it all went FED X and arrived fine.Not that many people live where there is a good selection of chocolate boutiques. In that case its still good to have an internet presence for your store. People may visit the area and want to send gifts home or buy later on.
Hi Melanie,
I see that you joined an org to get 40% off FedX rates -- what is this org?
Would love to check it out.
Thanks!
Living in CA, there were oodles of stores around, but living here in upstate NY is a very different situation. I've bought online, but only in 3-4 times in the last two years. I'll be back in CA come November so there's won't be a need in the future unless I need some French or Italian chocolate that I HAVE to have. There will come a time when I must have certain chocolatiers, but just polished off the last of my Paris chocolate from October 2008 and we just got back from Italy with $400 worth of chocs, so that'll last me.

Online, I've bought from chocosphere (mixed box of bars I was interested in), LillieBelle Farms (zombie choc bunny for a friend's birthday), Chocolate by Cacao (box of pralines, to try out), and Richard Donnelly (box of bars). Shipping is generally prohibitive, but I'll do it in serious cases of need -- the Donnelly and chocosphere times were such cases. After trying the Chocolate by Cacao and not enjoying it, I decided no more experimental purchases unless I have excellent reviews from trusted sources (everything looks good online).

What I've done for the last year is mix in chocolate shopping with all of my business and personal trips -- every visit yields additions to the chocolate fridge, that way I don't have to rely on the limited local selection. I'll definitely buy online again despite my CA move, there are some fantastic French & Italian chocolatiers that will be worth the cost (but only 1-2 times a year). I'll probably restrict my buying to international and try to scheme East Coast additions into my scheduled travel. For me, the more flush we get financially, the more likely I'll be to buy online, until then, however, I'll rely on the frequent traveling I do to fill in the blanks. Already have a wedding I'm scheduled to attend in Paris in the Spring, so no international buying necessary next year!
Hi SU: Sorry to hear that your experiences in buying online from US chocolatier have not been happy. I couldn't agree with you more that although the chocs are beautiful online, they arrive tasting stale or even moldy. Not only that but the pictures are deceiving. The chocs are often minute and the weight of the box ordered isn't on the website either. I do a certain amount of purchasing online as I host chocolate tastings and we like to see what the others are doing. Some of those supposed great chocolatiers who purport to sell "freshly made" chocolates are misleading their customers. They were made fresh six months ago, but are sitting on shelves. One in particular and I wish I could mention his name, was so stale and inedible that I had to send them back. The person on the phone apologized saying "they probably forgot to rotate stock" and there you have it. We sell mostly wholesale and that's only our bars, maple brittle, chocolate covered maple brittle and caramels fleur de sel. The more delicate and short shelf life chocolates are sold retail via our website. We really do make everything fresh to order. Even if our customers have to wait a little longer, they know that what they will get is the best and the freshest. And we ship via the US Mail when our chocolates are going out west since it only takes 2-3 business days and UPS when shipping takes no more than 3 business days. We ship worldwide including Canada, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Belgium, UK, Israel and even Antarctica. www.sweetonvermont.com Linda
The only ones I liked were Lillibelle's (Jeff is a member here) and they were the ones that were willing to ship USPS! No hassle!

Blush......

we try hard to please and only fail once in awhile...if you are shipping you should try to find the best way to ship to the country in question....

recently we have shipped to:
antarctica
alaska
canada
china
turkey
afganistan
iraq
dubai
saudi arabia
frnce
england
scotland
holland


all in the last 2 months.....all arrived safely.....some fedex, some ups, some usps....
I did not know you shipped internationally! Long ago I think I asked you... Humph!! I will PM you later!
our website does not, but we do....its all about the benjamins...

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