How Nearly a Century of Chocolate Making Experience Helped One Retailer Pivot Their Ecommerce Strategy – and Save Easter

Gertrude Hawk is an 84-year-old chocolate company based in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. For years, they’d operated a custom-built ecommerce site and more than 50 brick and mortar stores across three states, along with thriving wholesale and fundraising businesses. In 2019, the company saw an opportunity to expand its online offering.

The old Gertrude Hawk ecommerce site was outdated and clunky, making it difficult to maintain. It was dated, lacked quality UX, and was not mobile-friendly. Making even small changes was difficult and time-consuming, and the team couldn’t even apply features like adding coupon codes. Partner ecommerce agency Weidenhammer stepped in to help guide the transition. 

gertrude hawk chocolate covered pretzels

With the goal of enhancing, optimizing and identifying new opportunities for the chocolatier, Weidenhammer identified Magento 2 to be the best ecommerce solution for the job. The new site launched in January – timing that would soon prove fortunate. 

Upgrades Go Live

The new site featured a fresh look and fully responsive design. It also streamlined shipping, payment, and tax through integrations with key partners like ShipperHQ. As the Easter season approached, the team knew their new site was about to be put to the test.

“We launched specifically in January to accommodate our fundraising business,” said Melanie Nardozzo, Marketing Director at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates. “We’re so seasonal, everything revolves around Easter timing. We need to take orders in January and February and begin shipping in March in time for the holiday.”

And then came March  

“Just when things were starting to ramp up, March brought sweeping retail closures and shelter-in-place orders as COVID-19 hit hard in the United States,” Melanie says. With a large majority of its stores inside shopping malls, the company had no choice but to close virtually all its stores at the worst possible time. 

Despite launching a newly improved website with growing traffic, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates depends heavily on their in-store purchases. “Our customers like to shop brick and mortar. And the week of Easter is when we do the bulk of our business. We started to get really nervous,” Nardozzo said.

A Growing Need for Curbside Pickup

To quickly adjust to the changing business dynamics, Nardozzo reached out to Weidenhammer to gauge the feasibility of curbside pickup for the stores that remained open. They knew the logistical groundwork was not in place yet. But the Gertrude Hawk team needed any solution that could keep them open during their peak season.

The answer was surprisingly easy. Weidenhammer knew immediately that ShipperHQ could make it work. Since Gertrude Hawk Chocolates was already using ShipperHQ for their shipping rates and options at checkout, it was as simple as adding a new feature and setting up the right locations.

“That’s the value of partners that have built solutions around a particular niche. They are able to get that up and running really quickly. We didn’t have to think about and figure out how to architect a solution. One was already built,” said Aaron Sheehan, Former Managing Director of Ecommerce at Weidenhammer.

In ecommerce sales, every minute matters. The high level of customizability of Magento Commerce, coupled with ShipperHQ’s plug-and-play store pickup feature, allowed Gertrude Hawk Chocolates to pivot fast and minimize the losses from closed storefronts.

“We were very thankful for the opportunity to get that up and running so quickly. It did allow us to recover almost a third of our sales,” Nardozzo said. We delighted our customers with the experience and made them very happy. They were able to get their chocolate bunnies and keep the tradition of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates this Easter” said Melanie.

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