About Intelligent Gourmet

Intelligent Gourmet prepares and sells fresh meals, juice cleanses, and artisanal kitchen goods geared toward healthy living. These products are retailed through their café-cum-store in Tampa, Florida. The products are roughly categorized into two types РGrab-&-go and Shelf-stable items. Grab-&-go products include salads, burgers, wraps, etc. which need to be picked up from the store. Some of these items are categorized as Weekly Specials which are prepared based on customers’ food choices, weight goals, etc. and need to be pre-ordered. Shelf-stable items, on the other hand, include bakery products, etc. which are shipped to the customer. Some Shelf-stable products like lifestyle products, infused candles/honey, jams, etc. are shipped across the US.

When we met the founders, Linda and Patrick Baldwin, the Intelligent Gourmet website did not have an online ordering functionality. The site was being primarily used to display the products they sell. As their technology partner, we helped them build an online store for retail products and a wholesale section. The goal of the project was to have all the customers, orders, inventory, and payments to be maintained through an online system.

How we did it

Adding online selling capabilities to the showcase website with wholesale and D2C selling.

We leverage the WooCommerce platform and several premium plugins to set up a customized D2C online store with a wholesale subdomain.

All the aspects of the business - from customers and inventory to orders and payments are now being seamlessly maintained through the online system.

Building an Online Store

The existing website was built on WordPress which made WooCommerce the most natural solution to go with. Further incentives to stick with the WordPress + WooCommerce setup:
  1. Custom requirements like capturing customers’ diet preferences and accordingly suggesting Weekly Specials could not have been implemented in a cost and time-effective manner on SaaS platforms like Shopify or Bigcommerce
  2. Maintaining the wholesale product segment and associated user role is far more convenient on WooCommerce
  3. Customizations are easier to implement
Intelligent Gourmet had been using Clover as a POS and Quickbooks for accounting. So, all products needed to be synced with Clover POS so that any item added to Clover in any category also appears on the e-commerce store. On the other hand, orders placed on the e-commerce store needed to be transferred over to Clover POS which in turn will be synced to Quickbooks online.

Creating a Wholesale Selling Setup

This section is for customers who order products in bulk and hence, qualify for special pricing. Most of the Shelf-stable items are sold wholesale and are eligible for shipping as well as in-store pickup. The unique part about the wholesale section is that the inventory is tracked separately from the D2C site. Wholesale products are always backordered, which is why the maximum number of items that can be ordered is set as per the manufacturing capacity. If a customer wants to purchase more than the maximum quantity mentioned on the site, they need to get in touch with the admin.

For this wholesale segment, a separate WordPress setup with WooCommerce was created as a subdomain where customers need to sign-up/log-in to view the product catalog and wholesale prices. We integrated the Wholesale for WooCommerce plugin to create this segment and manage custom user roles and role-based pricing, tax, shipping and payment management, etc. The WooCommerce storefront theme was used in the wholesale section along with the branding of Intelligent Gourmet to keep the user experience seamless.

Miscellaneous Wholesale Setup Tasks

  1. Creating a user account section for managing and tracking orders
  2. Creating user-specific coupons for discounts requested by users on bulk purchases
  3. Customized checkout page for selecting shipping method/in-store pickup
  4. Payment gateway and shipping integration
  5. Setting up an admin panel for store managers to manage inventory, orders, etc.
  6. Capability to generate and download reports
  7. Newsletter & email campaign setup with Klaviyo
  8. Basic site optimization
  9. SMTP configuration & email template setup

Direct-to-Consumer Site Setup

The D2C site is separate from the wholesale site. The D2C site lists and sells three product types -  Pre-order Weekly Specials, Regular Menu items, and Shelf-stable items. Customers can purchase these item types individually as well as clubbed together. What we worked on for each item type:
  • Regular Menu Items - We customized the checkout page and the admin panel to add a time-slot attribute for in-store order pickup along with the ability for the admin to qualify products for delivery/pickup
  • Pre-order Weekly Specials - We created a custom plugin to display meal listings tailored to customers‚Äô inputs about food choices, weight goals, etc. We integrated capabilities to conduct checks for order placement threshold time and clubbing products from different categories.¬†
  • Shelf-stable Items - Shelf-stable items qualify for delivery unless they are clubbed with products from other categories. We integrated this feature and enabled the ability for the admin to mark orders for shipping/pickup.
The checkout logic was applied based on the type of products added to the cart. For example, shelf-stable items qualify for store pickup as well as delivery. But it gets a little complicated when products from different categories are present in the cart. In that case, we integrated a feature that notifies customers about two options - pickup all items (shelf-stable + other categories) from the store or order shelf-stable items separately to be eligible for delivery.

Other Miscellaneous D2C Integrations

  1. Intelligent Gourmet provides product subscriptions to registered users. To implement this feature, we integrated the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin with customizations. Customers can now upgrade, downgrade, or cross-grade between different subscription products and choose their own billing schedules. 
  2. We leveraged Klaviyo to add a newsletter feature to the website. It has been used to create a contact list of newsletter subscribers, add them to a Mailchimp contact list, and send automated emails to newsletter subscribers/customers with the latest/customized offers.
  3. Integration of Clover POS and Quickbooks Online
  4. SMTP configuration and setting up of email template
  5. Basic site optimization using minified CSS and JS, image lazy load, cache enabling, etc.

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