In this week’s Shop Spotlight, we asked Kate Hoppa from Mouth Party Caramels to share her best tips for selling online. Mouth Party Caramels were included in the goodie bags at the Grammy Awards — and a portion of their sales are donated to cancer research. Talk about a splurge you can feel good about! Keep reading for some great insights and, for those of you with a sweet tooth, be sure to check out her four-generation-old recipe for mouth-watering caramels!
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you sell.
Mouth Party is all about caramel! We produce soft gourmet caramels and caramel sauces in a variety of flavors. Everything is handmade in small batches and packaged up all under one roof. Our company was founded on the commitment to help advance cancer research ‘one sweet bite at a time.’
The caramel recipe we use is four generations old and comes from the owner’s stepmom, Jane, who is a two time Lymphoma survivor. It is Jane’s fight and that of the owner’s remarkable sister Lee, a three time lung cancer survivor, that has fueled our desire to donate a portion of our net profits to cancer research and support services.
When did you get started selling online? Why?
Mouth Party Caramels started selling online in 2007 to be able to provide our products to customers across the country and not just locally in Maryland, where we are based. Selling online is something that has grown for us each year, but mostly our business is wholesale to lots of gourmet grocers, gift boutiques, coffee shops, wine stores, etc.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in building and running your shop?
The biggest challenges we’ve faced as we have built and run Mouth Party Caramels’ online shop is creating the best possible experience for our customers when they visit. It’s important to us to make sure it’s up to date, clear, and easy to use. We have spelled everything out about our products and provide images so what you are seeing is what you will receive in that sweet delivery to your door. Having the answers there for customers allows our customers to be confident in their purchases.
The biggest challenge today is keeping up! New ways to improve your ecommerce site are always popping up and you want to make sure you are staying current and continuing to make your shop the best it can be for your customers. Being a small business with about 10 employees means we all have to wear many hats, so keeping up tends to be the hardest, but we’re definitely up for the challenge!
How does Mouth Party Caramels attract new customers?
We are very lucky and truly believe we have the BEST customers! Our new customers have mainly come from our existing ones. They will send our caramels as gifts to everyone for every occasion and in turn they end up doing the same. We do use email marketing, social media outlets and participate in different sampling events and vendor shows to introduce ourselves to new people who haven’t heard of us before as well.
Can you share a tip or something interesting you learned in the process of building and running Mouth Party Caramels?
One of our main tips is to simply listen. Instead of trying to guess what your customers want, you can just ask and hear what they have to say. Social media has made it so easy for us to get instant feedback about our business.
Listen to what your customers have to say and make changes when you can so they know that you care enough to hear what they are saying and do something about it. Hearing flavor suggestions, where they are buying our caramels, and even complaints are what has helped us provide the best customer service that we can. We want to hear it all – good or bad!