Vanessa De Weerdt opened her first bakery in 2017. Having worked at her family’s bakery until then, she was not new to the baking world. So, based on her family tradition, she developed her own baking style with a more contemporary touch.
As her first bakery in the Brussels district of Stockel was a great success, she decided to open a new one closer to her home in Sint-Genesius-Rode. She chose to create a place where you could buy your bread and patisserie whilst enjoying a bite and a drink with your family and friends. Unfortunately, the Eat & Meet concept was crushed by the covid pandemic. “The tables and chairs were quite literally pushed aside”, says Vanessa.
With the support of her life partner Koen she however invested in an online store and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google to generate more visibility and inform her clients. “We needed to channel our customers to our web shop to place their order, because people tried to order all kinds of ways, from text messages, over messenger, Whatsapp to e-mail”, adds Vanessa. The Covid-19 pandemic truly accelerated the development of our web shop. Koen, together with his partner developer Ben, also runs software company Gibbon.ooo, which builds web shops for the food-industry. Hence, Koen created an “affordable” web shop for butchers, bakers, restaurants & caterers, a convenient tool against the background of a pandemic.
“Of course we would rather not have experienced the corona pandemic and the human suffering it caused. However, it forced people to purchase more online and encouraged us to invest more time and energy into it”. And more success was coming her way. “Nyla Rose is now approaching its maximum capacity in terms of production and the digital business generates about a quarter of our turnover,” says Vanessa.
Vanessa and Koen manage the digital channels, but some carefully selected employees are allowed to post nice pictures too. “Certain products sell much better if you put them on display,” says Koen. The digital channels also allow Vanessa and Koen to follow the latest trends, respond to specific inquiries from customers or receive positive reactions.
“It is very gratifying to read all the positive messages. Yet, while digital media are now an integral part of our business, we cannot afford to spend much more time and money in them,” says Vanessa. “At the end of the day, we are still bakers trying to sell quality products.”
“You do not need a lot of training to use digital tools today. The possibility of integrating all kinds of applications is an absolute plus, because it saves us a lot of time and energy we can use instead to keep our business running,” concludes Koen. However, it is important to know how to manage social media and how to free up the time and resources for follow-up, as customers expect an immediate response or transfer to the appropriate channel. Also, “image is everything” as good pictures are strong indicators of quality. Hence access to the channels also needs to be managed properly”.