The Ugly Cake Shop: Going Beyond A Social Enterprise

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UGLY CAKE SHOP – Nothing is ugly about them, not the cakes, definitely not the people behind them. In fact, both the former and latter are absolutely beautiful on the outside, and even better on the inside. We reached out to Lisa, the owner of Ugly Cake Shop to find out more about their business and how our system was able to help them.

1. Tell us more about your cake shop, how did you first start out?

Ugly Cake Shop is a social enterprise that was started about three years ago, in the hopes of creating a sustainable way to feed undernourished children in Timor-Leste. We started baking at our friend’s commercial kitchen, sold cupcakes at weekend markets and baked whole cakes for online orders. Our cakes slowly gained popularity, and we have now expanded to include a bakery cafe in Kallang Bahru. That being said, a large part of our business is still in bake-to-order and customizing birthday and wedding cakes.

People often asked us, “Why the name?” We named it “Ugly Cake Shop” because we don’t use artificial colours (unless upon request) and stay away from artificial flavours, artificial preservatives and stabilisers, and fondant as far as possible. Essentially, we stay away from the ingredients that are typically used in pretty cakes.

Our cakes are better for our customers because we use less sugar and fewer artificial chemicals, and they taste more natural too!

2. When did you make your first sales?

I honestly can’t remember exactly when but it was three to four years ago!

3. Why did you decide to start out as an online business?

In the initial year, retailing our cakes online allowed us to avoid the hefty cost of setting up a physical retail store, although the kitchen rental was inevitable.

We even have customers from overseas, who order cakes for their loved ones living in Singapore. Beyond gaining revenue, it gives us great satisfaction to provide a way for people living overseas to surprise their loved ones here.

Till today, the greatest benefit for us is that it allows us to reach customers from all parts of Singapore that are far beyond the customers in the direct vicinity of our store.

4.  As a cake shop, what do you think is important for you in an online platform?

The platform is designed to ask for all the customer’s information and preferences, including delivery date and time, which is of utmost importance because cakes are perishable and cannot be on the road for hours. The menu set-up is also more intuitive and includes different options, i.e. size of the cake, the option to have special candles, etc.

The system is also integrated with a third-party delivery platform, which allows us to arrange for deliveries with just a click. Prior to the integration, we had to arrange for delivery manually, and it was really time-consuming. We are saving a lot of time and manpower with this convenient feature.

5. How has Oddle made an impact to your non dine-in business? How much was the growth?

It has certainly made it easier for us to manage orders and have them all in one place. The system collates all the orders from our shopping cart, and allows us to manually key in orders that have come in through the phone or via email. This way, we can keep track of all the orders via the iPad app in-store and even remotely, and make changes if necessary.

The online ordering system is also more intuitive for our customers to use, and our online sales have grown at least 50% from the time we used another platform.

6. How has Oddle played a part in your cake shop’s operations?

Oddle is most definitely an integral part of our business. Our main business is in baking cakes-to-order, and we do get a sizeable volume of orders to manage. Everyone who works at Ugly Cake Shop is trained to use Oddle’s iPad app.

We have been with Oddle for about two years now, and I cannot imagine running our online store without it.

7. What are the biggest challenges that F&B merchants face in expanding their business online and how does Oddle help with that?

The majority of F&B businesses are small and are operated by small teams; they may not have internal staff with the knowledge and experience of running an online business. Hiring an in-house IT expert and building a system from scratch is neither cost-effective nor time-saving. Oddle presents an almost plug-and-play solution, with all the bells and whistles that F&B merchants would want in their shopping cart. Most importantly, a support team is always on standby to assist with queries and issues.

8. What is your advice to other F&B owners on bringing their business online?

As “techy” as this sounds, search engine optimisation (SEO) is crucial for any online business. Your website and shopping cart need to be visible in the search engine results, otherwise it will not be effective in driving online sales. Therefore, it is important to drive traffic to your site via search engine optimisation and even search engine marketing, if need be. Oddle also has features in place to help with SEO of your shopping cart.

Social media marketing is also indispensable in this day and age because they offer effective social media platforms. With a simple call-to-action button, they can convert prospects into customers.

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