November 15, 2007, 12:00 AM

Online sales still rising 30% a year at Lake Champlain Chocolates

As the rate of growth has leveled off in the number of consumers using high-speed Internet access, the rate of sales growth has also slowed at LakeChamplainChocolate.com. Nonetheless, online sales are still rising 30% each year, the chocolatier says.

As the rate of growth has leveled off in the number of consumers using high-speed Internet access, the rate of sales growth has also slowed at LakeChamplainChocolate.com. Nonetheless, online sales are still rising 30% each year, the Vermont chocolatier says.

“In the past, we were growing at 40-50% per year with search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising,” says Chris Middings, director of marketing and communications. “As more people were getting broadband Internet access, it was a guaranteed market growth.”

But even as the growth rate in the number of broadband access users has slowed, Lake Champlain Chocolates has been able to maintain an annual growth rate of about 30%, Middings says.

The growth continues to be supported mostly by online marketing and site features that engage shoppers, he adds. Although the retailer publishes a paper catalog in addition to operating three stores in northern Vermont, it doesn’t mail the catalog to many prospects; nearly all catalog recipients are registered on the web site as online customers.

“I’m amazed at how people register online,” Middings says. The retailer attracts registrants, he adds, by providing them multiple ways to make shopping easier. “We provide them faster, simpler checkout, the ability to track prior orders and maintain multiple ship-to addresses,” he says. The ability to track prior orders makes it easier for shoppers to review the type of gifts preferred by those on its gift-giving list, he adds.

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