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Pepper Palace Scales its Customer Database and Drives Repeat Purchases with Shopify POS

Pepper Palace customer story hero

Pepper Palace is the largest spice-themed chain of retail stores on earth. Since its inception, the award-winning brand has grown immensely while staying true to its ethos of crafting its products by hand in small batches in-house from its kitchen facility.

The brand was early to recognize the value retail stores brought to scaling notoriety and its customer base, opening 40 locations in high traffic tourist destinations across the United States. Known for its extensive selection and hot sauce sampling, each of its stores have a local appeal and are considered destinations for spice enthusiasts.

But operating its growing network of retail stores and leveraging them to capture customer data and drive repeat online purchases was being hindered by disconnected systems, cumbersome workflows and reporting.

Since migrating to Shopify POS in 2019, the brand has:

  • Scaled from 40 to over 100 store locations
  • Grown its customer database by 900%
  • Lifted monthly gross merchandise volume by 127%
  • Implemented Shopify online and across 40 store locations in two months

Challenge

Before making the switch to Shopify Plus and Shopify POS, the brand had 40 stores and operated under a licensing model. As a result, the brand felt the lagging pain of disconnected customer and administrative experiences which held them back from opening more stores.

“Pepper Palace’s operations didn’t coalesce in the way we needed them to”, says Corey Hnat, Pepper Palace’s Marketing and Digital Sales Manager. “Website and store orders, inventory, sales, payments, and customer data were all performing like they were detached from one another,” he explains. “That made it challenging for our team to create that long desired cohesive customer experience, and drive repeat online purchases from the customers we acquired via our stores.”

Pepper Palace wanted to move fast. “Our brand values time down to the second. We want to make improvements to our customer experience as quickly as possible, and with our past ecommerce and point of sale providers, that wasn’t possible,” Corey explains. “Each store and sales channel was operating in its own silo, which made it difficult for operations teams to make improvements. Our systems didn’t speak to one another.”

In addition to its disconnected online and store experiences, the brand also faced issues with accepting payments in person. “Our card readers weren’t integrated with our payments processor, so staff would have to key in a customer’s card information manually,” Corey explains. “That slowed down our checkout. It also made reconciling payments across our stores a pretty cumbersome process.”

To fuel its growth aspirations and create the cohesive omnichannel experience it longed for, the brand sought to move away from the licensing model to centralize its operations under one system.

Solution

To unify its sales channels and operations, Pepper Palace switched both its ecommerce and POS system to Shopify in 2019, with end-to-end implementation taking just 2 months.

Contrary to other brands of its scale, Pepper Palace doesn’t have a large IT department. With Shopify, the brand’s operations team was able to move faster and make changes across all store locations and sales channels in a fraction of the time it used to take. “Shopify’s admin is so valuable,” Corey explains. “We can control the POS systems across all our store locations in one centralized place, which makes tasks like reporting a lot faster and easier.”

Store staff also benefit from how intuitive Shopify POS is to use. “The software itself, along with the hardware, is really easy to use,” he explains. “Instead of troubleshooting our card readers, checkout is much smoother. We’ve shaved off a good 10 to 20 seconds off each transaction, which adds up to big efficiency gains when you operate at our scale.”

With Shopify POS Go, the brand is seeing an uptick in both sales volume and customer contact information captured at checkout. “With POS Go, staff can guide customers through tasting our sauces to transactions and collect contact information without missing a beat,” explains Paul Bundonis, Pepper Palace’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “We’ve also observed that stores using POS Go drive more sales volume and capture more customer data. Because of those performance gains, we’re increasing the number of POS Go units across our stores by about 200%.”

Results

With a centralized platform to host its orders, inventory, sales, payments, and customer data, the brand’s growth has skyrocketed. Store locations have scaled from 40 to over 100 across the United States and Canada, and its customer database has grown from 50,000 to more than 500,000 profiles complete with purchase history and more.

“Moving to Shopify was critical to us growing the brand to where it is today” says Paul. “We’re able to open stores quicker, operate them with less overhead, and efficiently acquire customers who continue to support the brand online well after their first visit.”

But above all, Pepper Palace has been able to crystalize and maintain its much sought after customer experience—allowing for brand uniformity and cohesion across sales, customer engagement, and retention. “Our scaled retail operations powered by Shopify are one of the reasons our monthly gross merchandise volume has grown by 127% since 2019.”

Shopify has been instrumental in helping achieve our vision of a unified brand operations. We can leverage insights to scale our brand efficiently, and are able to offer standout buying experiences online and across over 100 stores.

Pepper Palace

Paul Bundonis — President & COO

Industry

Food and beverage

Previous platform

Lightspeed

Products

Shopify POS, Shopify Plus

Use case

Retail and POS, Replatforming and Upgrades, Speed to Launch

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