Story, brand and the cross channel selling balancing act with Quicke’s Cheese’s Tom Chatfield (episode 263)

Tom Chatfield is the Head of Sales and Marketing at Quicke’s. Quicke’s is a family farm and cheese maker established in 1540 – definitely making them the oldest business we’ve had on the show so far!! 

Quicke’s started selling online in the 1990s and now sell around £2m of cheese per year across eCommerce, retail and wholesale.

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About Tom

Tom joined Quicke’s in 2012 and he says that when he joined he noticed that someone had already had the foresight to build in some eCommerce capability into their original website, even though it was barely being used.

At that time they were doing less than 10% of what they do now. The first proper stab at selling online was done using a Magento mashup. Eventually, a new marketing manager came over from an online butcher and convinced the team to transition to Shopify. 

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  • Google Analytics
  • HootSuite
  • Mail Chimp

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Focus on eCommerce

The Quicke’s cheese marketing team have been focusing their efforts largely on the world of eCommerce, where they’ve seen significant gains.

Tom points out that eCommerce has been more appealing than traditional wholesale and retail because of the better margins, predictability and control. He says that the process of making cheese involves an extensive aging process which makes it even harder to deal with volatility in the market .

eCommerce with a Strong Brand Sensibility

Quicke’s website is more story-centered and visually rich than a lot of eCommerce sites and Tom attributes this to the fact that they built it out as a brand window initially and they rather tacked eCommerce later when they noticed it seemed to be working.

Regardless of this cart before the horse method, the eCommerce side of the business is continuing to grow and the bulk of their sales are actually larger, more expensive subscriptions in which people are investing a significant amount of money into having cheese regularly come to them.

Recently they’ve even added farm experiences to the platform and sold 1/3 of on their latest round of farm cheese tours via the eCommerce platform. 

Customer Loyalty to the Brand

The loyalty and love from the customers is what Tom says is the most compelling part of his job. He loves the stories about shoppers who go several miles out of their way to come by their favorite Quicke’s cheddar. That kind of brand loyalty makes it easy to get out of bed for the job every day. 

Building a Premium Brand Online

Tom’s advice on building a premium brand from scratch? Start with eCommerce. Success generating sales and remaining nimble is easier to achieve with the amazing visibility and access to customers and the extraordinary amount and quality of data that you can get online. Brand building is the third crucial piece. 

Marketing Methods

  • Organic Traffic is the biggest revenue generator
  • Email is the fastest growing area for Quicke’s.
  • Food festivals and events allow the team to easily grow the email database. They have gone from four to twelve thousand emails in the last 12 months. Tom says that many of their most premium customers come from their work at festivals “getting cheese in people’s mouths.”

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Email because of the great research benefits it offers

Tool Top Tip

  • What’s App  because the team travels and are based in different locations

Interview Links

Related episodes

  • JJ Resnick explains how stories have been at the heart of his eCommerce success
  • Taste Tradition Direct’s Ian Smith discusses growing a new site to 50 orders per month in just 2 months
  • Miso Tasty’s Bonnie Chung chat about subscriptions, and getting to 1,000 regular customers in under 2 years

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