BKLYN Larder Modernizes its Cheese Business by Switching to Shopify POS (2022)
When Mandy Wynn learned in 2016 that her neighborhood market BKLYN Larder was in danger of shutting down, she stepped in to keep it afloat. Under Mandy’s stewardship, BKLYN Larder continues to be known for curating specialty cheeses and provisions and for making the best sandwiches in Brooklyn.
“I love to host, and found that when I offered a cheese and charcuterie plate, there was always something to talk about,” she says. “It brings people together. I saw BKLYN Larder as an important local institution for creating those moments and helping people discover local makers, learn about the story behind their food, and share that information with friends or family over a cheese plate.”
It’s no surprise that storytelling is the focus of BKLYN Larder’s philosophy: “The more you know about the food you consume, the better it tastes.” By switching the shop’s technology to run on Shopify, BKLYN Larder has been able to tell the stories behind its products more easily and build meaningful connections with customers whether they shop in-store or online.
Since switching to Shopify, the BKLYN Larder team has also been able to:
- Get more done in fewer steps, thanks to Shopify’s unified back office
- Reach the right business decisions faster with powerful reporting
- Share product knowledge amongst staff via Shopify POS product metafields
- Cross-sell products more effectively
Challenge: Disconnected systems and disparate product information
Before Shopify, Mandy ran BKLYN Larder’s storefront through a series of platforms from Revel to Square POS and its ecommerce through BigCommerce and eventually Woo. Updating two platforms was a headache for the team.
“I had so much duplicate work to maintain each system,” Mandy says. “If I did something on one of the systems, it caused a chain reaction in the other system. It took a lot of time to troubleshoot and make both systems work together.”
Accessing and sharing product information was the biggest obstacle BKLYN Larder faced, because it used separate systems for online and in-person sales.
“When you’re in the store, a lot of customers like talking with staff to learn more about the products you offer. We needed a way to share product information with online shoppers and with staff so that customers could learn more wherever they chose to shop,” Mandy says.
It reached a breaking point where I was spending more time troubleshooting and managing our systems than on growing our business or running the shop. I wanted to simplify things and free up time to focus more on what matters.
Solution: Managing all channels, products, and apps from Shopify
Mandy realized BKLYN Larder needed to unify its in-person and online technology for the sake of its staff and customers.
“For staff, I wanted our back-end operations to be centralized so we could become more efficient and save time. For customers, I wanted them to have a consistent experience wherever they shopped,” she says.
Mandy turned to fellow cheesemongers to explore unified sales systems. “Across the board, the ones that had the most cohesive experience were on Shopify. Every system will have its strengths and weaknesses, so I started evaluating my needs differently. Instead of thinking about what I need from an operations standpoint, I thought about what the customer needs from a service standpoint and solving for that instead. That shift in mindset transformed everything. If it works for the customer, that can be transformational for your business,” she says.
Mandy is the first to admit she’s an expert in cheese and not in migrating websites and POS systems. She partnered with Shopify Experts ICEE Social to transition the entire business to Shopify while she focused on running her business.
“When you partner with an agency who has done migrations for some of the world’s biggest businesses and small businesses like mine, they know all the right questions to ask to gather the right context,” Mandy says. “Migrating everything myself would have taken weeks, but with a partner, overnight it was done.”
Shopify was the best option because it helps us manage all our channels and services from one place. It’s been super easy to use—I can do things independently that weren’t possible with other systems and I’m not a digital native. It was really easy to learn how to use.
Results: Selling and doing more, faster
Since switching to Shopify for ecommerce and its POS system, BKLYN Larder has been able to enjoy greater efficiency, powerful reporting, easier access to product knowledge, and better cross-selling opportunities.
“With Shopify, the behind-the-scenes processes to run my business are easier to do, which gives me more time to focus on what I’m really passionate about. It also doesn’t feel like I’m doing busy work when I’m creating new products or changing up my website; it just feels like an extension of sharing product stories with my customers—mostly because Shopify makes the behind-the-scenes stuff easy. I’m not stuck troubleshooting and reading a bunch of help articles and forums because things don’t work how I expect them to. Everything just works,” she says.
In the past, Mandy needed to build custom reports to access the business data she needed the most. With Shopify, all of the information she needs is front and center. More importantly, the prompts in Shopify’s analytics have helped Mandy run a more profitable business.
“I’m delighted every time I open my analytics and see, for example, that a cohort of customers haven’t been contacted about a new item they’re likely to enjoy based on their purchase history,” she says. “Or that my customers are searching for Mimolette cheese and can’t find it on my website. It helps me merchandise my store and feature the items in the right spots online to maximize sales.”
BKLYN Larder’s employees aren’t the only ones who have benefitted from the switch to Shopify. Shoppers can now enjoy what feels like a guided in-store experience online, thanks to Shopify’s product metafields.
“Customers like talking with staff to learn more about our products,” Mandy says. “We needed a way to share product information with online shoppers so that customers could learn more wherever they chose to shop. I was able to solve that using Shopify’s product metafields. With them, I can easily add details like where the cheese comes from, its taste profile, or what to pair it with.”
Use Product metafields for Shopify POS to equip store staff with the information they need to serve customers with confidence. You have complete control on what to include in metafields, which makes them a flexible tool for sharing detailed product information and helping staff resolve questions quickly.
Equipped with Shopify POS, staff could instantly reference this information and assist customers. “I know everything about all the products I carry, but not all my staff knows everything,” Mandy says. “With Shopify’s product metafields, they can just scan the product tag and get access to everything about the product. All of a sudden, even part-time staff are experts on farmstead cheese from 3,000 years ago. I know that information by heart, but now staff have that information in the palm of their hand.”
Access to these details makes cross-selling easy in-store. Staff can reference product information on Shopify POS to suggest cheese and charcuterie pairings. Shopify has made this cross-selling experience possible online too. “With Shopify, I can tag a product once and it will show up everywhere I need it on our website and in Shopify POS. That makes a huge difference on our units per transaction for online orders,” Mandy says.
I would hesitate calling our switch to Shopify an investment. I think it’s an enhancement.
What’s next for BKLYN Larder?
With online and in-store operations running smoothly, BKLYN Larder is focused on innovating with counter-free selling using POS Go, Shopify’s all-in-one mobile POS terminal.
“POS Go is going to change how we interact with our customers, and I think it will be very impactful for our quality of service. We want to be with our customers, not behind the counter. POS Go brings us closer to our customers and allows us to walk them through our products, tell their stories, and connect them with products they’ll love. Knowing we can do that and check them out on the spot is really exciting,” Mandy says.
BKLYN Larder is also exploring new ways of selling off-site with POS Go. “We do a lot of private parties and tastings at people’s homes. The idea that we can go set up anywhere and also have products that we can sell on the fly at these private events is something we never did before,” Mandy says.
With Shopify, BKLYN Larder’s cheese empire can reach customers outside of the borough with ease.
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