November 3, 2010, 1:26 PM

Hickory Farms offers a faster path to its online goodies

The retailer launches a redesigned web site and beefs up marketing for the holidays.

Lead Photo

Visitors to the Hickory Farms Inc. e-commerce site this holiday season will be greeted with an enhanced shopping experience due to web site redesign and improved analytics. The multichannel retailer of specialty sausage, cheese and sweets also is upgrading its online advertising, search marketing and e-mail programs, says Michael Holton, vice president of brand marketing.

The first phase of Hickory Farms’ online makeover came in the beginning of October with the launch of a “refined” web site, Holton says.

“One of the things we focused on was really streamlining that user experience,” he says. “The whole idea there is how do we drive conversion but at the same time make the consumer experience more efficient, more enjoyable.”

As part of the redesign, Hickory Farms, No. 212 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reduced the number of clicks needed to make a typical purchase from 13 a year ago to seven. “That’s a pretty drastic improvement in terms of speed of site, speed of performance,” Holton says.

The retailer also added quick-order functionality and enhanced the product information pages. “They offer quicker reads on the information and really get the consumer what they need as fast as possible,” Holton says. Hickory Farms has seen increased conversions since redesigning the site, but Holton wouldn’t give details because the launch still is in the early stages.

Working with Hickory Farms in redesigning the site and raising its online presence through improved marketing is Rosetta, a direct and digital interactive marketing agency. “We aligned with Rosetta because as we’ve taken a more consumer-focused approach in our business, we recognize that we really needed somebody that had the expertise to help us on the digital side of things in the e-commerce world,” Holton says.

Hickory Farms is using Rosetta to track consumer behavior on its site. “We’re going to be much smarter about our web site this holiday season than we ever have been before, really thanks to a lot of the analytics they’ve helped us employ,” Holton says.

In addition to the web site redesign, Rosetta is handling Hickory Farms’ search engine optimization and paid search programs. “We’re really getting much better search visibility than we’ve ever had,” he says. The provider also is handling Hickory Farms’ display advertising program and context-based marketing.

While Hickory Farms has tried to promote its presence on social networks such as Facebook, Rosetta will be expanding that effort online. “We’ll have a couple of other areas where consumers will be able to interact with us later this year on our web site and share their thoughts and traditions,” Holton says.

In addition, Rosetta is setting up a social advertising program for the retailer to help identify where consumers go online. “We’re going to go where they’re seeking out information for what are going to be the best food gifts this year,” Holton says. “We definitely want to be there as a reference point for them.”

 As part of its enhanced marketing, Hickory Farms has improved its e-mail segmentation strategy. “We’ve got a pretty robust segmentation strategy—well improved over last year,” Holton says. “We want to make sure that we’re not over-messaging our consumers but at the same time, if someone needs an additional stimulus or message, we definitely want to be able to deliver that.”

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