Success Stories

Handmade Soap Chop Manages Growth With Tech

Jen Morsell, owner of Mountain Madness Soap, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho sets up store display
Local handmade soap company uses technology tools to manage great growth during the pandemic.

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In March 2020, when stores were closed statewide and small business owners felt such uncertainty, the Morsells were no different. 

One day they had been gearing up for a busy season of a bustling tourist crowd at their Sherman Street handmade soap shop and a calendar full of craft shows.  The next, they wondered if they would be able to pay bills or have to lay off employees, or worse yet – get ‘real’ jobs. 

‘We were terrified’ -Says Jen Morsell, of Mountain Madness Soap.  ‘We did an immediate swap from almost all sales in store to all sales online’. 

As it turns out, homemade soap is actually a pretty good product to be selling during a pandemic.  Their loyal customer base flocked to the online store to quickly stock up on the products they needed. They also picked up comfort items that made staying home just a bit cozier.   The popularity of the site resulted in increased browsing traffic and even more potential sales.  Suddenly, they had new challenges to consider.  How would they handle the increased demand? How could they serve all their customers with that personal touch they were known for?

Apps for Ease

Naturally, co-owner and former software developer, Andy, turned to technology for solutions. He found tools that helped in fulfilling new orders, keeping up with manufacturing, and capturing customers from the increased traffic.

A delivery app created time-saving routes for a home delivery service which was utilized until stores were re-opened. The service was then replaced with curbside and in-store pick-up.   A shipping app integrated helped negotiate the lowest-priced carriers and determine break-even points on shipping charges.

A move to a larger production facility brought required new solutions for inventory management. Switching to a more accurate system enabled them to manage both raw and manufactured goods across multiple locations and sales channels.

Reading the Data

Reviewing google analytics that really made the difference.  Idaho SBDC eCommerce coach Sam Dascomb and Andy met regularly to evaluate data and how their online customers used the site.  Understanding how their online customers used their site offered insights on how to make products easy to find while also promoting seasonal goods.    As a result, they have increased the per-order value and onsite conversion rates for improved net profit. All without increasing marketing spend or adding any additional costs of goods sold.

Although, the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic were quite different than Mountain Madness Soap had originally anticipated.  They’ve met those challenges by adopting new tools, understanding the data, and how the numbers affect the bottom line.