Industry: Baking, Retail
Challenge: Build a fully-integrated eCommerce and inventory management system, aligned with existing production processes and new consumer-direct delivery model. Launch within a 10-week span to capitalize on anticipated holiday demand.
Solution: WP Engine's managed WordPress platform, integrated with Linnworks inventory management software and eCommerce functionality from WooCommerce. Global Edge Security and Smart Plugin Manager are used in tandem to ensure site is protected from top OWASP vulnerabilities and WordPress-specific threats.
Results: eCommerce dominance. A 1,200% increase in year-over-year holiday sales, leading to further growth and investment in Great American Cookies’ eCommerce brand as well as plans to expand eCommerce functionality to other brand lines.
Great American Cookies. is a chain of independently owned and operated franchised stores that specialize in gourmet cookies. Founded with a generations-old family recipe in 1977, Great American Cookies has more than 290 locations across the U.S. and is the #1 retail cookie chain in the country. Since 2010, the company has operated as a franchise brand in the portfolio of Global Franchise Group.
3 Owl is an award-winning creative agency serving strategic clients with bright visions and bold ambitions. Based in Atlanta, GA, 3 Owl specializes in creating nimble brand identities, elegant technologies, and beautiful tools that equip clients for success.
"By embracing WordPress and other open source systems while building on WP Engine’s platform, Great American Cookies has absolutely crushed their foray into digital commerce.”
—–David Feldman, Founder and Director of Strategy, 3 Owl
Responding quickly to an emerging market trend.
If you’re a fan of cookies, you’re certainly not alone, and there’s a good chance you’ve had one from Great American Cookies
Home of the original Cookie Cake, Great American Cookies is the largest retail cookie chain in the U.S., with nearly 300 franchise locations around the country.
Given its expansive physical presence, the company has long focused on its in-store model, supporting the on-premise needs of its franchisees and supplying the raw dough baked on-site.
In 2019, Great American Cookies and parent company, Global Franchise Group (GFG), saw an emerging opportunity to expand that in-store model by selling and delivering their decadent delights directly to consumers.
While smaller cookie companies had already entered the digital space, industry analysts were predicting substantial growth in cookie delivery sales. Great American Cookies was well-positioned to dominate the market.
But they’d have to go to market first. With a fast-approaching holiday season and the significant task of building an eCommerce system to support direct-to-consumer sales, Great American Cookies approached 3 Owl for a solution.
“This project went beyond building an eCommerce site, and touched on all aspects of the customer journey,” said 3 Owl Founder and Director of Strategy David Feldman.
Great American Cookies’ existing sales, shipping, and inventory systems were all geared toward the large-scale delivery of ingredients to franchise owners, he explained. They had no system in place to accept and fulfill direct consumer orders, and they didn’t have an inventory management system suited to the dynamic production of cookies ordered, baked, and shipped out on the same day.
“As a solution, we focused on developing an integrated eCommerce and inventory management platform that tied back to Great American Cookies’ production facility processes while facilitating the new, direct-to-consumer model,” Feldman said.
Integrated functionality for a seamless sales process.
With a 10-week timeframe, the team at 3 Owl began work immediately, tackling the inventory management piece of the puzzle first.
After evaluating several systems, Linnworks was chosen as it integrated well with WordPress and met all of Great American Cookies' criteria.
“Linnworks proved to be an excellent choice as we pieced together the mission-critical logistics of this project,” Feldman said.
“Because there is such little room for error when it comes to perishables like raw dough, getting the inventory management aspect right was extremely important.”
As a final assurance, 3 Owl was able to spin up a new WooCommerce install on WP Engine’s platform, integrate with Linnworks, and start running test orders.
“Everything worked flawlessly,” Feldman said, “but it was great to be able to test everything and confirm before finalizing.”
With inventory management in place, 3 Owl began building an eCommerce experience that could feed a hungry digital audience, while laying the foundation for future optimizations.
As a WP Engine Agency Partner, the 3 Owl team was able to rely on dedicated support and resources that helped bring their design and development vision to life, backed by WP Engine's industry-leading managed WordPress platform.
“Combining our skillset for the design and implementation of this solution with all of the tools and benefits that come with building on WP Engine’s platform allowed us to quickly provide Great American Cookies with the enterprise-grade eCommerce solution they required,” Feldman said.
3 Owl delivered a pilot site within the 10-week timeframe, and because it was built on their WP Engine agency account server, they were able to launch it quickly for holiday sales, show proof of concept, and then transfer it to a custom dedicated VM designed specifically for WordPress sites and applications, powered by Google Cloud Platform.
Sweet holiday sales, ongoing high-performance.
“Using WordPress and WooCommerce on WP Engine’s platform is an incredibly powerful combination for our business.”
- Lisa M. Cheatham, Vice President, E-Commerce GFG Management
Once the site was live and linked from Great American Cookies’ homepage, cookies started flying off the digital shelf.
Using a “Ship Cookies” button at the bottom right of the screen, visitors are taken to Great American Cookies’ online store, where they’re able to quickly place an order for delivery anywhere in the country.
“This clean, simple functionality on the front end has a lot of moving parts supporting it, but WordPress integrates with it all and makes everything easy to manage,” Feldman said. “Most importantly, it’s been a massive success for Great American Cookies.”
The success of the initial rollout, which launched in time to capture 2019’s holiday rush, convinced Great American Cookies’ parent company, GFG, to expand its eCommerce strategy to some of its other brands using added functionality and customizations across the solutions already in place.
“Using WordPress and WooCommerce on WP Engine’s platform is an incredibly powerful combination for our business,” said Lisa M. Cheatham, Vice President, E-Commerce GFG Management
“It has helped us develop a new business model and effectively meet more of our customers where they are.”
3 Owl used WP Engine’s multisite tools to convert the existing site into a custom WooCommerce multisite that could scale to new brands.This included GFG brand Pretzelmaker’s direct-to-consumer eCommerce website, which was launched in just four weeks by utilizing the multisite and a shared theme.
In addition to a brand new, award-winning UI, new functionality was added to the site including subscriptions, build-a-box, corporate gifting, select delivery date, customizable gift bands, and more.
“Once everything was up and running, we moved GFG’s corporate sites along with the eCommerce multisite to the C1 server, which allowed for more security and stability at scale,“ Feldman said.
And for additional security and stable extensibility all the way down to the application layer, the site also utilizes Global Edge Security and Smart Plugin Manager for ongoing protection against plugin vulnerabilities and other emerging security threats.
As all of these modifications were made, another holiday rush came and went at the end of 2020, culminating in an even more successful sales season than the first.
The new website saw a 1200% increase in year-over-year holiday sales, underscoring the magnitude and impact of the new eCommerce solution.
“By embracing WordPress and other open source systems, all built on WP Engine’s platform, Great American Cookies has been able to absolutely crush their foray into digital commerce,” Feldman said.
“Not only did this huge holiday spike grow revenue during a difficult year for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, the success is leading to further growth and investment into Great American Cookies and other GFG eCommerce brands.”
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