Zest! - LaunchUX

Case Studies

LaunchUX Case Study: Zest!

Background

Zest! features everything a person could need or want for flawless cooking and entertaining: spices, cookware, gadgets, knives, wine accessories and more. But what sets Zest! apart from other kitchen supply stores is that their seasoned instructors also supply the know-how and confidence required to blend these ingredients into complete experiences. From their brick-and-mortar location among the eclectic shops in the heart of downtown Lititz, PA, owners Sharon and Jim drew from their European travel adventures as well as local produce to celebrate the communal experience of cooking, eating and hosting.

But Zest! found its business model threatened on multiple fronts almost overnight when the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns made in-person classes, shopping and gathering problematic.

Zest! had already been interested in growing their online footprint, but the pandemic lockdowns made it critical.

To further complicate the matter, Zest! was having difficulties with their online payment platform and their web developer at the time was completely unresponsive. LaunchUX answered the call and a new relationship began to percolate.

By partnering with LaunchUX, Zest! could build out their online offerings to go from surviving to thriving.

If the people couldn’t come to Zest!, then LaunchUX would have to bring Zest! to the people.
Zest!
Opportunity
Sadly, for many businesses, the challenges posed by the pandemic proved to be insurmountable. However, Zest! – working a responsive web developer like LaunchUX – was able to adapt. The best part is that those developments continued be beneficial to Zest! even after the brick-and-mortar shop and school were back to business as usual.

Opportunity 1:
For the first time, online courses were now preferable to in-person cooking classes.

Online education and tutorials have existed for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2020 that online cooking classes were viewed as more than a pale comparison to the “real thing.” Zest! had an opportunity to leverage their strong reputation for in-person classes to reach an online audience.

Opportunity 2:
People everywhere were rediscovering their kitchens.

Early into the pandemic, the tried-and-true recipes got stale and takeout became bland so people became more adventurous in the kitchen. First they dug out old family recipes, but they quickly turned to the internet for fresh flavors. Social media feeds were filled with images of freshly baked bread and meals that were spectacular (or spectacular failures).

Opportunity 3:
A business that could combine these trends could be very profitable – as long as it was easy for customers to use.

With the marriage of food, education and social media complete, it wouldn’t be difficult for a business with in-person teaching credibility to put their information online. The challenge would be creating a ticketing system that facilitated the student-instructor relationship online that people of all technological backgrounds could use. From the customers’ perspective, the emphasis needed to be on the food – not the technology.
Skills Needed

Taking the “social dining” experience online required the deployment of several digital initiatives.

  • Social media
  • E-commerce – online storefront
  • E-commerce – gift cards
  • Project management
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
Solution
LaunchUX helped Zest! develop live and on-demand cooking classes using Facebook Live as the central platform. Customers could purchase admission to the online classes or download the videos after the fact, which allowed Zest! to recreate the in-person experience that they had become known for in their new digital environment. Facebook was an ideal solution because most of their customers were already familiar with the social network, and they were now spending an unprecedented amount of time there.
In addition to their cooking classes, Zest! also needed to transition their retail revenue stream online. Not only did LaunchUX integrate the booking system for people to sign up for classes onto their website, but they also empowered Zest! to sell their spices online. Their e-commerce presence allowed them to remain in contact with their local customers while expanding their sales to a much wider online audience.
Gift cards became a valuable lifeline for lockdown-affected businesses. Symbolically, they were a way for customers to support local businesses that they missed. Financially, gift cards bought online were a genuine lifeline for many businesses. LaunchUX made it possible for customers to enroll in classes, purchase spices and buy gift cards through their website.
Implementing online courses and launching an e-commerce website are each substantial endeavors in their own right, but in combination, they are an invitation for disaster. However, over the course of the project, LaunchUX was able to streamline and simplify the behind-the-scenes operations. Before the launch, for example, Zest! used Excel to create class rosters and lists, but now, through the fully functioning website, the instructors only need to download a single list for an evening’s class. Additionally, when the staff arrives in the morning, they are able to easily identify, fulfill and ship their orders out.
In addition to building and streamlining their online presence, LaunchUX has also provided ongoing SEO services to make sure that Zest! is being found online. Their classes are at capacity, and they have managed to rank on the first page for some of their spices – which is a notoriously difficult market to stand out in. SEO has been an important part of Zest! expanding their footprint beyond Lititz.
Results
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Zest! had prided itself on the brick-and-mortar social experience that it offered to the community of Lititz. Because they were able to adapt to the turbulent times, they were able to connect with new and existing customers in an entirely different way.

Their online classes and e-commerce website generated a critical revenue stream while they would have otherwise been shut down.

Today, their customers can purchase spices and attend classes in person or online – whichever they prefer.
Conclusion

LaunchUX had an opportunity to work with Zest! because their previous web developer was unresponsive. We then turned that introductory project into an ongoing relationship because not only do we develop and implement solutions for Zest!, but we are also in regular contact with them to brainstorm and draft ideas.

Zest! has been an ongoing project that we have supported now for several years, and it has materialized into a true relationship in which we help each other pivot and evolve through ever-changing circumstances.

LaunchUX is a boutique digital marketing firm located in Chambersburg, PA that specializes in building websites, search engine optimization and secure web hosting. Ranked by UpCity in the top 10% of SEO firms nationwide, you can be sure that LaunchUX delivers measurable results.

Contact us today to discuss where you want your company to go next – and how we can help you get there.

The website and setup is better than I could have even expected! Nathan and the LaunchUX team didn’t bring my vision to life, they took a picture I had and absolutely ran with it. Their attention to detail and the care put into every single piece of work is unmatched! Strongly recommend!

Boaz Pogue