The platform that connects customers with local cottage businesses
A food and beverage cottage business is a small-scale business that produces and sells baked or prepared goods, and is most often conducted out of one’s own home. Among bakers and other individuals who prepare food, many run their own cottage business. According to a survey of 600 bakers conducted by the Better Baker Club, only a small fraction(3.1%) of bakers bake as a hobby. The rest of the participants either conducted a fully functioning business, were in the process of planning a home baking business, or occasionally sold their home baked goods. This same survey revealed that a cottage baking business was not reliably profitable, with 51.9% of respondents reporting that they have not yet paid themselves. This is problematic, because our own user research revealed that individuals run a cottage business as either a primary or secondary source of income on which they rely.
The other side of the coin is the American consumer, who is highly motivated to support local businesses, especially after th COVID-19 pandemic has been detrimental to so many of them. One survey found that 90% of Americans would go out of their way to support a local business, and over 82% of Americans say they would even spend more to shop locally and support local businesses. Shopping locally is generally beneficial, and according to some studies, consumers shop locally to support local creators,keep money local, and receive better service than larger businesses.
Research points to a clear hurdle for these bakers: marketing. Cottage business owners struggle to attract and retain customers, and need a way to find new customers.
Like many during COVID lockdowns, Melissa picked up baking as a hobby. During this time, she joined many baking-centric groups, and quickly realized that there was a whole group of people who ran businesses operated in a home kitchen otherwise known as cottage businesses. She noticed a lot of the same sentiment echoed again and again; these microbusiness owners struggled with many aspects of running a business, simply because most of them lacked the education or previous experience helpful for owning and operating a business.
We wanted a way to be able to bridge some of these gaps for cottage business owners, to help them to be able to thrive and continue doing what they love while supporting themselves and their families. We also wanted to be able to connect individuals with cottage business owners to enable them to support local businesses.
Cottage business owners need an easy way to reach new customers and market their business so that they are successful and profitable.
Consumers need a way to connect with local cottage businesses so they can support their local economy.
We approached the research with two goals in mind. First, we wanted to answer the question: what are the most significant challenges faced by cottage business owners in running their businesses. Second, we wanted to round out the persona of the cottage baker; who they are, and what drives them.
Our survey revealed a lot about the cottage baker. The majority of cottage business owners are between the ages of 31 and 45, and most run their business as their primary source of income. Cottage bakers have various comfort levels in using digital tools, however most report being very comfortable using digital tools to run their business. In addition to our own research, we referenced a survey conducted by the Better Bakers Club, which revealed that, despite being their primary source of income, most cottage business owners are unsure of their profitability, and many have not yet even paid themselves.
We had a few assumptions about how these business owners might respond to the question of their biggest obstacle, however the actual data revealed a problem we had not expected. Research insights pointed to a clear answer to this question: marketing. When asked to describe the most significant obstacle to running their business, the majority of cottage business owners pointed to marketing and customer acquisition as their primary challenge:
After conducting user research, sourcing data from outside sources, and understanding the market, we decided to create a tool to connect cottage business owners to potential customers.
Once we began working on the solution, it became clear that a pivot would be necessary. Because our solution depended on engagement from both hosts(cottage bakers) and users(potential customers) we had to adjust and prioritize our problem space in order to decide which features to focus on building. As a result, we shifted our focus to
User Stories :
User: Potential customers. Host: Cottage baker
Tech Stack Used
Software Architecture: Monolith
These packages and tools can be used together to build the application with Node.js.