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The Fruit Company

Ecommerce Strategy & Design

The Fruit Company is an online gift basket company, shipping fruits, nuts, cheeses and other perishable goods from their headquarters in Hood River, Oregon. They came to Subtext in 2013 needing a new website experience that better reflected their industry leading position, product quality and customer-centric service approach.

Subtext helped The Fruit Company define a stronger brand story and visual language to emotionally connect with their customers, as well as implement an intelligent ecommerce website that addressed the unique challenges that come with shipping perishable foods.

The Fruit Company

Project at a glance

  1. 01.Developed a brand and customer research-based ecommerce strategy that deeply understood the brand’s customers and user stories

  2. 02.Created a new brand platform and brand style guide that formed a concise and authentic visual language

  3. 03.Developed a new Magento ecommerce platform to help manage checkout and streamline the purchase story, including integrations for product inventory, and added functionality for customized shipping and multiple ship-to addresses

  4. 04.Implemented additional functionality that supported the brand experience, such as custom ribbons and branded transactional emails

Developing an industry-leading ecommerce strategy

In the years that The Fruit Company grew its online ecommerce business, a myriad of other gifting companies had entered the marketplace. The Fruit Company recognized in order to maintain their status as an industry leader, they needed a new website that told a richer brand story and addressed critical user experience and functional issues with their current website.

The Subtext team was brought in to help develop the brand strategy, user experience (UX), visual design and a new Magento ecommerce website.

Developing a customer-centric ecommerce site

Subtext started this process by diving into a discovery phase; conducting interviews, user testing the existing website experience with real customers, and providing extensive competitive research to understand the cost-of-entry for doing business in the online gift basket category.

We learned during this process that we needed to take the question of quality product and delivery off of the table for customers.

The discover research uncovered customers were mistrustful of the current website because of a convoluted website navigation, confusing checkout process, and a lack of quality photography. The result were customers going to competitor websites that provided a better experience

Subtext used these findings to develop user stories that emphasized the most seamless shopping experience possible, paying extra attention to The Fruit Company’s key audience groups, corporate gifters and monthly fruit club purchasers.

Developing a brand platform before moving to design

It’s not uncommon for a business to grow over the years without really considering what its brand stands for—and the result is often unfocused messaging and constantly changing visual design direction that can be a distraction for its customers.

For Subtext, defining this brand platform is an important first step in designing a new experience. This ensures the legacy brand tenants are designed for and that there is consistency across all marketing channels.

Subtext used a number of workshops, brainstorm exercises, and interviews (both stakeholder and customer) to hone in on the values, aspiration and mission of the brand, Additionally, Subtext identified the primary target audiences and messaging that connected well with them. This brand platform was used in the development of the a comprehensive brand style guide which outlined key brand messages and visual brand language: typography, photography, color palette, etc.

Magento based ecommerce website

The website was built on Magento Enterprise, which includes many out of the box features that were utilized to streamline the customer path to purchase. A base Magento theme was selected and customized for brand style direction, and unique layouts and functionality were built on top to address additional website needs.

Inventory integration with SAP

The inventory integration requirements for The Fruit Company was one of the bigger challenges of building this website experience. The primary requirement was to ensure all order information was passed over to SAP and would synchronize inventory levels within their system. However, due to some key unique functional requirements, such as multiple address shipping on one order, custom ribbon needs, and monthly harvest club requirements, a custom integration was required. Subtext researched and selected a partner, eBridge, to complete this integration and managed that relationship between eBridge and The Fruit Company.

Customized shipping for perishable fruits

One of the most difficult elements of running a perishable foods company is the ability to ensure freshness and quality when shipping across all 50 states. There’s a delicate balance to be achieved in keeping a simple shopping cart process while also giving customers options for shipping costs and arrival dates. This was identified as one of the key areas of frustration during the project’s discovery phase.

Multiple variables affected the shipping rate and product availability. From order date to arrival date, holiday shipping prices and limitations, the type of fruit that was ordered, and the final destination of the fruit (some states were too far away or had strict regulations), providing a seamless shipping experience for customers was a large challenge.

This was both a technical challenge to implement the logic needed for each state (and for multiple ship-to addresses), as well as a visual challenge to display information in a way that made it easy for the customer to identify the shipping costs within this step of the checkout process.

The result was a color-coded shipping calendar, as well as a modified shopping cart process for both multi-ship and one-page shipping.

Branded transactional emails

Highly-branded transactional emails were essential to telling the strong brand story and accomplishing the brand’s goals for the new website. Subtext created customized Magento transactional emails and abandon cart emails. Each included brand colors and design elements along with additional, branded content that ensured clear communication with the brand’s customers.

Custom ribbon selector for unique gifts

Subtext created the ability for customers to customize key products with a custom ribbon selector and pre-written messaging with a premium gift basket purchase.