Alan Zelcovitch knows cookies. In fact, his chocolate chip
cookie recipe led to the creation of Zelcovia
Cookies, a boutique cookie business that started as a means to
help fund flying lessons and now 10 years later is a growing
ecommerce site that sells cookiegrams, cookie cakes, cookie
baskets, boutiques and gift boxes direct to corporations and
During this same period, Zelcovitch has also been building up an
IT consulting business, providing technical support to small
businesses. His appreciation for the power of technology to work
smarter has helped him enhance efficiency and drive profitability
for Zelcovia Cookies. Here he shares how investing in technology
and equipment has taken Zelcovia to the next level.
Fuller Landau: Describe your business model for
Zelcovia. Alan Zelcovitch: Zelcovia is an internet based
cookie delivery company. Google the terms cookie delivery or cookie
grams and we're one of the top listings. We keep overhead very
low and have a gross profit margin of 50%.
Fuller Landau:When did revenues begin
to take off? Alan Zelcovitch: When I started spending money on
technology. I was just treading water until then. In the first
iteration of the website, which cost about $2,500, we could only
take orders over the phone. I've since spent about $50,000 on
site improvements based on customer feedback. We keep making it
easier for the customers to get exactly what they want. Now, the
vast majority of orders are placed online, customers can upload
their own photos to personalize orders, request delivery times
seven days a week at times convenient for their schedules. I work
with my programmer to continue to make the site as efficient as
possible. For example, if I ship to Winnipeg, the site knows what
to charge based on postal code. As soon as someone places an order
online, the courier automatically knows. Investing in technology
has cut my workload in half and has allowed me to more fully
develop the business. That's why I have no problem investing in
technology. In fact, last year was our best year in terms of
sales thanks to the new technology.
Fuller Landau: Does your willingness to invest in the
business extend to equipment? Alan Zelcovitch: Yes. When I started 10 years ago
to save money I was using ovens that were given to me but I
was missing out on opportunity. For example, those ovens baked
about 24 cookies an hour. Today, our ovens bake between 500 and
1,000 cookies an hour or up to 40,000 cookies a day. A small
investment in infrastructure goes a long way.
Fuller Landau:What is the biggest
lesson you've learned about e-commerce since starting your
site? Alan Zelcovitch: When it comes to the Web,
don't delete, just add. I learned this lesson when I changed
the categories on my site in order to link them to events
(birthdays, weddings, etc). There were no orders for a week. We
immediately went back to the original categories and the sales
returned. I'm using that lesson now as we prepare to introduce
a build your own section with several new flavors. When I introduce
it, the original options will remain and I will only delete them if
it becomes apparent that the vast majority of customers are
choosing the build your own category.
Fuller Landau:What is your key
differentiator? Alan Zelcovitch: We have really good
product and we pay attention to the details. We put customers'
logos on the cards that accompany the cookies. We can deliver an
order within 4.5 hours of it being placed. We offer the ability to
personalize orders. Our competitors cannot top what we offer
because no one else has invested in technology to the extent we
have. As a result, we have spent no money on marketing. It's
all word of mouth and repeat customers.
Fuller Landau:Where do you go from
here? Alan Zelcovitch: We have two interesting projects
in the works: my web developer and I are working on a cloud
solution where we can sell the e-commerce system we've created
as a service for $150 a month. We will host it and other businesses
can in effect lease all the power of my $50,000 website. I'm
also looking to create relationships with bakeries across Canada.
They will gain access to our site so we can sell our cookies in
every major city. We will feed them the orders, ship the
dough in powdered mixes and they will bake and sell them.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Law Society of British Columbia’s Cloud Computing Working Group issued its Final Report on Cloud Computing on January 27, 2012, amending an earlier consultation report approved by the "Benchers" on July 15, 2011.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).