Learn how the New Zealand brand, The Caker, launched in the United States, navigated online fulfillment with the world’s biggest retailers, and made cake mixes cool
Jordan Rondel started The Caker bakery in 2010 in Auckland, New Zealand with the mission to create cakes that taste even better than they look. Inspired by French baking after spending time with her grandparents in Paris, Jordan opened a bakery and took on the moniker that would later become her brand. In October 2020, The Caker cake mixes launched for sale online and provided the perfect confectionary canvas for the experienced baker or novice. Each decadent mix comes complete with decorations and non-stick baking pan liner.
About The Caker
The Caker isn’t your mother’s Betty Crocker cake.
Unlike the white cake mix flecked with confetti sprinkles or bright food colored red velvet cake with sugary cream cheese frosting from your childhood, The Caker’s (self-proclaimed) unusual cakes are grown-up delicious works of art you can brag about during dinner parties.
Over a decade ago, Jordan Rondel shook up the baking industry by bringing unique flavor combinations, luscious textures, and playful decorations to the masses. This immediately earned her a cult following in her homeland of New Zealand, and The Caker was born. With delicious flavors like Matcha Cherry and Lemon Strawberry Poppyseed, it’s no wonder that people were snatching her up her cakes.
What started as a made-to-order bakery rapidly expanded into four cookbooks and several signature at-home cake mixes. Business was booming, and in year five of The Caker, Jordan’s sister, Anouk, left her job as a lawyer to join her. Since then, the dynamic duo relocated to the United States, launched a bakery in Los Angeles, California, and released cake kits that ship nationwide — including a flavor that has a luxe take on chocolate cake which features a gold leaf topping.
We sat down with Jordan and Anouk Rondel, the co-owners behind The Caker, to hear more about their journey from bakery to ecommerce operation. Hear more below about what the sister-powered team had to say about operating a business during the COVID-19 pandemic, navigating B2B accounts and retail dropshipping via EDI using SPS Commerce, and how ShipBob helped along the way.
“The multiple different ways you can sell is the best thing about ShipBob. We can sell through retailers’ websites, sell on our own website, and do B2B. There are a lot of 3PLs where you can do B2C, but not B2B. That flexibility is insane. ShipBob is the one 3PL that is changing, growing, and innovating, being willing to learn and improve. It’s a pleasure to work with ShipBob.”– Anouk Rondel, Co-owner of The Caker
Launching an unintentionally “COVID-friendly” product
As told to ShipBob by Jordan and Anouk Rondel, co-owners of The Caker.
A couple years ago, we thought we were going to come to the United States, open a bakery, and sell cake kits afterwards. But obviously the pandemic hit, wedding and events we booked got canceled, and we were really forced to focus on the kits. Suddenly, everyone was in lockdown, and home baking had a full resurgence.
As hard as it was moving countries and expanding the business, it was weirdly good timing. Especially for the product that we made. That was the silver lining.
We were very close to signing a lease for a bakery space to replicate our New Zealand business model. In hindsight, we’re grateful that lease didn’t go through. Without a physical storefront, we needed to pivot to focus online first and find a 3PL to help get products into our customers’ hands.
Finding a 3PL partner to fulfill Squarespace orders and beyond
We never had a warehouse of our own. In fact, we were just figuring out how to rent an apartment in the US for the first time. So we got started with ShipBob when we officially launched our store. The beauty of ShipBob is we could be tiny and still utilize their solution.
We were still very new to the US and didn’t know where exactly our customers would be, so we decided to use one fulfillment center on the east coast and one on the west coast. Next, we may go more central but we can follow the data ShipBob provides to make informed decisions on faster, more cost-effective fulfillment.
When we connected our Squarespace store to ShipBob to fulfill our DTC orders, it was totally straightforward. I barely even remember the process, because I pressed a button and it was taken care of. We quickly realized consumers weren’t the only ones interested in our products.
Navigating retail accounts (online and wholesale)
When awareness for The Caker really picked up we started to get DMs from retailers like URBN who wanted to sell our products, which was a full learning process. Many retailers are looking to expand into new categories and don’t want to take on the risk of holding inventory, so they’re looking for new brands to sell on their websites and dropship directly to their shoppers.
EDI compliance is hard to wrap your head around, as the various APIs and work streams are complicated. Though we didn’t know what retail dropshipping was at the time, we later found out that ShipBob’s retail dropshipping solution could fulfill online orders for big name retailers and give us time back to focus on things we want to work on.
A lot of retailers require their own barcodes. We were worried that we were going to have to send the kits to ourselves, open them all up, and put price labels on them. But we just placed a kitting order in the ShipBob dashboard and it was easy for them to take care of it. I asked them to send a photo of a box they’d done and it was perfect — the order was fulfilled in a custom box, included a custom packing slip, and it was shipped using a prepaid label. It’s all done behind the scenes. We didn’t have to lift a finger.
Neiman Marcus is one of our biggest stockers and we’re about to do an exclusive flavor with them for the holidays. For the first time, they’re stocking our kits in their physical stores for a more wholesale/B2B approach rather than solely online for retail dropshipping. Being EDI compliant makes ShipBob even more of a powerhouse. As they continue to expand their retail partnerships, there won’t be an order they can’t fulfill. The fact that we’ll be able to click a button and start selling with a retailer like Macy’s will be cool.
Being able to go global with fulfillment
Recently, we put some stock into a ShipBob warehouse in Canada and we’re thinking about doing that in the UK as well. We got some interest in the UK and my initial thought was, ‘that’s not going to happen. We can’t ship from the US to the UK!’ Then we learned ShipBob has a warehouse there. So now it’s a realistic, centralized option for us.
“ShipBob made us think about things that we hadn’t thought about ourselves. That partnership and being so willing and open to work with their customers has made working with ShipBob such a pleasure.”
– Jordan Rondel, Co-owner of The Caker
Centralizing inventory management in a multichannel world
Right now, in terms of all inventory and sales channels ShipBob is our main hub. You can have stock in 2 fulfillment centers for 10 channels and know the totals. We recently had to send stock between two facilities and that was really easy. I remember talking to other 3PLs who said if you have two warehouses, you’d need to have separate logins or ways to manage the inventory in each warehouse. That type of thing is a walk in the park for ShipBob.
“We have 10 different ways people can purchase the product so everything is on a different platform. ShipBob is the only one where we can see all-in-all what has occurred. The analytics are amazing.”
– Anouk Rondel, Co-owner of The Caker
We sit around thinking about new products, and with ShipBob, we can launch products in one day. As long as we have the product, we can send it off and make the SKUs match then boom — done. That’s truly wild.
What’s next for The Caker
We’re trying to remain DTC as much as possible. Wholesale hasn’t been our focus. At the moment, we’re using wholesale as more of a billboard than a money maker. That’s not really our business model. Expanding our reach into Europe is also an important next step for next year.
We have four to five new flavors that are going to launch. One of them will be available before Black Friday. We’ll release 3 new ones each year. I’ll also be launching a new book before Christmas and try to do one of those per year.
We say there are 3 parts to the business: the cake kits, the bakery, then me [Jordan], who is the face of the brand, creates recipes, and teaches masterclasses. We want to keep growing the kits and the celebrity chef side of it so we can have a full-circle brand.
We chose ShipBob because it was very much about the DTC experience, as opposed to becoming Amazon or something. We want to make sure people are coming to our site and creating that loyalty and getting a personal experience.”
– Anouk Rondel, Co-owner of The Caker
Each week there’s a new email introducing new features. It’s cool. We just implemented custom sender labels so our brand name shows up on the shipping label to further reinforce brand recognition before they even open the package. And the customer service at ShipBob is exceptional. It’s been a symbiotic relationship. We’ve grown alongside ShipBob. It’s been a nice, mutually beneficial relationship.
As we continue to grow, we need to invest more in marketing. We will be able to do so with ShipBob’s retail dropshipping solution, which makes it super easy to connect and ship with retailers.
The Caker’s Team at ShipBob
Bob is the Client Acquisition Executive with ShipBob who helped bring The Caker onboard.
Deborah is a Merchant Success Manager who provides strategic insight to The Caker and several of ShipBob’s largest customers.
Shai is ShipBob’s Director of Product, Fulfillment who worked with The Caker on retail dropshipping.
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