One of Made In Cookware’s differentiating factors is its supply chain, says co-founder Chip Malt. The consumer brand manufacturer, No. 1254 in the 2019 Digital Commerce 360 Next 1000, works with factories and craftsman from around the world to help produce its premium cookware. For example, Made In works with a fifth-generation knife maker from a small town in France, who is known for building modern chef knives, Malt says.
Although Made In’s products are premium, sales have not slowed down since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, quite the opposite. Sales are pacing ahead of their initial 2020 expectations, Malt says without revealing more. In March, website visits increased nearly 38% over February. Plus in April, traffic was up 516% year over year and increased 223% year over year in May 2020, according to data from web measurement firm SimilarWeb.
Made In markets its products as quality and something that will last a lifetime. This resonates with shoppers, as they see the value with the long term, and they are willing to invest in quality right now, Malt says.
After soliciting customer feedback, Made In realized that shoppers cited its authentic sourcing of products as one of the top reasons they purchased from MadeInCookware.com. However, this information was not prominently featured on the site, and shoppers often had to dig to find this supply information. Made In realized, if this was a major conversion driver, it should showcase these details more prominently.
Made In worked to incorporate more storytelling about its sourcing throughout the site, such as adding videos, callouts on the homepage and adding more navigation tiles to its brand story. For example, when shoppers hover over “shop” in the search navigation bar, after the list of products it also includes a “Meet the Makers” call out. This text directs shoppers to a landing page with more information about Made In’s founding story and product sourcing.
Instead of just making these changes and hoping for the best, Made In used personalization vendor surefoot to A/B test these web design changes to ensure they were improving the site experience. In a test of the “maker’s story” video on its product pages, 30.9% of the shoppers that had the option to view the video watched 100% of it, Malt says. Plus, consumers who watched the video were 26% more likely to add the item to their cart, he says.
“This was an incremental experience with the test—the control (product pages) simply had no video—and across a lot of other tests, page values and conversion values increase for those who have engaged with a brand video,” says Malt without revealing more.
If a product has noteworthy sourcing, Made In highlights this on the product detail page under the product’s description. For example, on the chef knife product page, the description reads “Inspired by tradition and innovation, Made In partnered with a family-owned, fifth-generation knife maker from the knife capital of the world to create a fully forged, nitrogen-treated chef knife.” And for a butcher’s block, the description reads, “Made in Wisconsin from locally sourced and 100% repurposed American maple wood, this butcher block is hard on everything but your knife blades.”
Besides increasing conversion, Made In also aims to have its website tweaks bring shoppers deeper into the website and learn more about the brand, as those could ultimately lead to more conversions, he says.
Made In started working with surefoot in February 2020 and plans to continue using the vendor for A/B testing site features. Malt credits its customer service team for having good communication with customers, noticing anecdotal feedback and trends for ideas to test, such as shoppers citing product sourcing as a reason for purchase. Once its team notices a trend to test or needs feedback, Made In incentivizes shoppers with a gift card to its site to take a survey. Typically, it shoots for about 50 responses for specific questions, he says.
Made In also uses A/B testing to determine where to place new products on its ecommerce site. For example, it recently launched a baking sheet. Because this is a new category, it currently doesn’t know the best place to put this product on its website, such as with baking products or with nonstick stainless steel products or if it should create a new product category. Made In is testing options.
“For us it’s all about the user experience,” Malt says. “We have no retail footprint. You can’t touch and feel us. We’re solving a problem with the best professional cookware. How do we tell that to consumers without being able to touch and feel it?”
Another one of Made In’s differentiating points is the 100-plus professional chefs that use its cookware. Even though Made In sells to consumers, it wants to prove that many top chefs use its products by choice. It does that by showcasing many videos and headshots of all the chefs that use its products—so consumers can see the sheer quantity of chefs, unlike other brands that may just have one or two celebrity chefs that back a product, Malt says.
The chefs listed on MadeInCookware.com use its products in their restaurants and have paid for the products or have invested in the brand, Malt says. The majority of the chefs featured on the site reached out to Made In first, Malt says. The chef videos are a win-win, Malt says, as the chef can promote his or her restaurant and Made In promotes its products.
During these times, Made In also wants to emphasize how it supports the chef community, which is especially struggling during the pandemic as restaurants were forced to closed.
Made In donated a share of proceeds from certain products to the Southern Smoke Foundation, a nonprofit that donates funds to people in the food and beverage industry who are in a crisis. The brand did a test where it showed those products next to the Southern Smoke Foundation banner on its homepage. Consumers who saw this banner had a 12% higher conversion rate for those products than shoppers who didn’t see the banner, Malt says.