How Savencia Is Growing and Evolving Its DTC Strategy

How Savencia Is Growing and Evolving Its DTC Strategy

How Savencia Is Growing and Evolving Its DTC Strategy

Trepidation, not mere necessity, is often the mother of invention. At least that’s what food manufacturer Savencia Cheese USA, home of nine brands including Aloutte,Chavrie, Dorothy’s, and Smithfield, discovered during the teeth of the pandemic.

“The food service industry totally shut down,” noted Sebastien Lehembre, business director for e-commerce and strategic partnerships at Groupe Savencia, the No. 96 publicly owned consumer goods company, at the CGT/RIS News League of Leaders meeting last week at the Amazon Ads Building in New York.

“Customers were going in and out of the stores as fast as they could. And cheese is never one of the things at the top of your shopping list. You go to the dairy counter at your retail store to be on a treasure hunt, to be like, ‘Oh, you know I’ve got some friends coming over the weekend; maybe a piece of cheese would be good.’ So these sales totally disappeared overnight.”

Instead of seeing this loss of retail engagement and sales as a disaster, Lehembre and Savencia executives saw an opportunity, albeit one that needed to be acted upon with unusual alacrity.

So, in July 2020, Lehembre and Savencia developed and launched to safely get cheese to people quarantined at home.

Of course, merely launching an e-commerce site to make up for lost retail sales wasn’t necessarily unusual during the pandemic. What was notable was how quickly Lehembre and Savencia accomplished their e-commerce goals.

“We had to hit the ground very fast,” Lehembre understated. “Between the time the project was accepted and the launch it took us six weeks to build the platform — six weeks.”

The secret of Savencia’s speedy e-commerce success? Action rather than perfection.

After the site’s launch, during the rest of the summer and early fall, Savencia worked to fine-tune the site to make sure all the necessary functions and logistics were added and optimized, including the expanding of payment options, coordinating cross functionality between its warehouse, ShipStation, and building the back office to handle fulfillment, and continually measuring response and adding product. “It’s continuous optimization and learning,” Lehembre explained.

Savencia worked off a five-point philosophical flow for its e-commerce arm:

  • Unique product offering
  • Easy shopping experience and customer journey
  • Amazing fulfillment and customer service
  • Sustainable, and recyclable shipping (They ship only Monday through Wednesday to ensure customers get their orders in time for the weekend, and the contents of its gel packs can be used as plant food.)
  • Giveback through support of the World Central Kitchen

Upon launch, but before all the logistics had been worked out, Savencia’s biggest challenge was determining which was potentially worse – not being able to convert sales or not having a back office ready to fulfill sales.

They needn’t have worried. As of May 2023, has generated $1.1 million revenue, as well as 2.2 million page views, 700,000 sessions, 13,000 orders shipped, 110,000 units sold, 118 average weekly orders, $78 average basket, and a 4.8 TrustPilot score.

Importantly, the site is serving as a way for the company to retain and grow its base of loyal customers. The top 1% of customers for order volume represent 19% of the site’s total revenue.

Savencia recognizes its initial e-commerce accomplishment is just the beginning, and the League session prompted multiple attendees to offer suggestions for adding on cheese-adjacent products such as wine, crackers, and charcuterie boards to the web site’s offerings, as well as more advanced marketing strategies and data analytics efforts.

“Later on this month we’re going to launch a wholesale functionality because we realized a lot of cheese that goes out the door is for professionals,” Lehembre reported. “It’s a learning journey for us, making sure we can have our product within the reach of our consumers.”

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