Dawn Foods, a global bakery manufacturer and ingredients supplier headquartered in Michigan, has launched a new national e-commerce platform, completely changing the way this 100-year-old company operates.
It’s also a pivot from how the entire bakery distribution ecosystem has traditionally done business, Bob Howland, Dawn’s Boston-based chief digital officer, told Built In.
“This business is conducted in ways that haven’t really changed in a few decades. Our salespeople go out, knock on the door of a local bakery and take their order,” Howland said in a recent interview. “We don’t get an order unless the salesperson shows up and then takes it. And it is verbally given, it’s not usually written down on a piece of paper or anything. And then the sales person goes off to the next customer and so on and so forth. And the industry operates that way.”
Now, this new tool brings that whole process online for the first time. The platform houses Dawn’s entire catalog of products and ingredients bakeries need, which business owners can then browse and order from with the click of a button.
This pivot presented a challenge Howland says many people on his team had never come across before. Everyone was learning as they went, building an entirely new tool from scratch for a company that had never had a digital component before.
“It’s not that hard to spin up an e-commerce site, but it is very hard to get a business ready for e-commerce,” Howland said. “How do we get pricing to be ready for digital? The company did not have a product catalog, so how do you build your first-ever product catalog? And these are people that have never built one so they don’t know how to do it. We set out a work stream, a leader, project, goal, timeframe, and worked together because this is all new to everybody.”
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