Lohcally Artisan Chocolates’ Founder and CEO Denise Steele grew up in a small Ohio town with a chocolate shop centrally located in her community. While growing up, Steele’s mother worked at this chocolate shop and brought home lots of samples that encouraged a love and passion for chocolate. Steele also had very fond memories of the sense of community generated by visiting this shop with her family, and running into friends and neighbors there.
Over the next decade or so, Steele moved to the East Coast, pursued a career at an investment firm, got married, and started a family. In early 2019, after moving her family from the East Coast back to Ohio and leaving her job due to the relocation, Steele decided to enroll in Ecole Chocolat’s Professional Chocolatier program. There, she learned the techniques of producing chocolates while efficiently operating a business. With her professional training and personal passion for chocolate, Lohcally Artisan Chocolates was born, and quickly became a sought-after provider of fine chocolate confections to the Central Ohio Community.
Lohcally Artisan Chocolates produces modern, artisan-crafted, fine chocolate confections that bring the “Wow-factor” in both taste and appearance. The business practices social responsibility by sourcing from small cacao farmers and giving back to the local community. They currently operate as a pop-up at Columbus’ historic Downtown North Market, where their products can be purchased as well as other local venues. They are working on plans to have a more permanent presence either through a brick and mortar store or a permanent space at their local market soon.
About Lohcally Artisan Chocolates
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US in March 2020, shortly after Denise started her business, all the local shops that sold her chocolates no longer had any foot traffic. Steele knew she had to rethink her business model in order to keep her business running, so a few months later, she pivoted her to a direct-to-consumer model by setting up her website and online store. She was faced with a new set of challenges, however, when it came to shipping her products to customers.
When vetting different shipping solutions, Steele found that many of them require users to lock into an annual payment system – but this was not an option for her, as she didn’t know how much business they would be getting online and didn’t want to commit to paying upfront for a full year. She then spent countless hours on the phone with a variety of carriers to negotiate rates for her small business, but was unsuccessful in those attempts. In order to succeed and keep her e-commerce business afloat, it was essential she identify the right shipping partner.
After researching and reading reviews for shipping solutions that integrate with WooCommerce, Lohcally Artisan Chocolates decided to partner with Shippo to fulfill their shipping needs in August 2020. After integrating and testing sample orders, and comparing her rates with competitors, she found that Shippo had the best rates. In addition, Shippo integrated seamlessly with her WooCommerce website and was easy to use. “We just integrated Shippo into our website and all our orders flowed seamlessly into Shippo – it was just so easy! Ease of integration and having cheaper rates was really valuable for us. It was a no-brainer for us to use Shippo”.
Because Lohcally Artisan’s prides themselves on the quality of their chocolate, it is critical for them to be able to ship their products within a specific time frame so the chocolate doesn’t melt before getting to the end customer. “We are trying to get any order delivered within 2-3 days max. Our chocolates are shipped with ice packs and insulation, but even with those measures, anything beyond 3-day delivery is a big risk for us. The fact that Shippo not only gives us an affordable rate, but also enables us to see accurate estimated shipping days, gives us peace of mind. Shippo has allowed us to get our chocolates delivered across the country for customers who are sending a local Ohio-made gift to out-of-state relatives. How disappointing for our customer and the recipient if their thoughtful gift arrived completely melted!”, shared Steele.
Steele also appreciated that there’s no annual fee with Shippo. As a small business, it was important for her to have few recurring fees to keep her expenses as low as possible. In conversations with other chocolatiers, she found many people were searching for affordable shipping solutions – and Shippo emerged as the solution delivering the most success. “Not having an annual fee to use Shippo was helpful for me, especially in that beginning stage of the pandemic. We didn’t know what kind of business we would be generating and it was important for me to keep my fixed expenses low”, stated Steele.
With Shippo, Lohcally Artisan Chocolates has saved over 30% in shipping costs in Ohio and Florida, and over 50% for California.
With Shippo, Steele’s day-to-day shipping process is simple. When an order comes in, she receives an email from WooCommerce that there’s a new order. She then ensures the product is in stock, packages the order with all the insulation required to keep the chocolates fresh, logs into her Shippo account, enters the package size and weight to populate the shipping prices, and that’s it! “Using Shippo is seamless for us. There are very few errors because the customer enters the delivery address and e-mail information directly on our order page. That information feeds directly into Shippo so there is no need to worry about a data entry error. The only things we have to enter are the package dimensions and weight. Then we choose the carrier, price, delivery timeframe, and our shipping label is generated automatically”, said Steele.
A Shipping Solution for Businesses of All Sizes
Shippo is a single, easy-to-integrate program that powers everything leading e-commerce brands need for shipping. From a single integration, businesses gain access to over 85+ global shipping carriers. And since all carrier interactions are standardized, Shippo makes it easy for businesses to compare rates and ETAs, print labels, schedule pickups (with USPS and DHL Express), track shipments, facilitate returns, and more across several carriers, all in one place.
Connecting your online store is also fast and easy with Shippo’s pre-built integrations. Shippo can automatically connect with several popular e-commerce platforms and marketplaces, and getting set up can be done in a manner of minutes without the need for any technical developer resources.
You also have options for using Shippo: online through our web application or connected via API. The great thing about these options is that Shippo has the ability to grow with you as your business needs evolve.
For businesses that want to get started right away, the web app is a great solution. And getting started is as easy as opening an account, entering some basic information, and creating your first shipping label. For businesses looking for an even more customizable solution, Shippo’s API is the next step. With Shippo’s developer-centric API, businesses can take their automation efforts even further. Visit Shippo’s API information page to learn more.