After watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory on their third date, Josh Resnick and Rosie O’Neill had a revelation: candy was a fun, magical experience for children, but not for adults. Why did sweets stop becoming a source of excitement with age?
As people spend more time behind computer screens and scrolling through their phones, certain experiences have been lost. Lost experiences have brought a seismic shift to industries like retail, where shoppers increasingly abandon brick-and-mortar stores to buy clothes, electronics, groceries and everything in between online.
But Resnick and O’Neill saw a bright future despite this challenging environment. They wanted to create a candy boutique that would allow patrons to relive their childhood experiences. They would rejuvenate candy for adults by selling unique, quality sweets online and in stores. These candies would be beautifully presented to encourage social media sharing. And the whole experience would be far more elevated than the convenience or grocery store down the street.
After spending two years tasting thousands of sweets – visiting far-flung artisan candy makers in places like Morocco, Italy, and Greece – Resnick and O’Neill fulfilled that dream when they launched Sugarfina in 2013.
Sugarfina boasts a mouth-watering lineup that includes gummy bears infused with Dom Pérignon champagne and rosé, tequila-filled cordials, white chocolate-covered almonds hand-painted to look like martini olives and Japanese sugar flowers. Customers can build their own “bento box” or choose from preset options designed for the most memorable experiences such as birthdays, weddings or holidays. These colorful, flavorful and unique creations are meant to transport adults back to the first time they walked into a candy store as a kid.
Sugarfina opened its first branded candy store in Beverly Hills in late 2013. The 26 boutiques take you on a “magical” journey to your childhood and the experiences you always loved. Sugarfina also sells through high-end department stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Nieman Marcus, as well as luxury hotels and gift shops.
Riding the Sweet Tooth to Success
As it turns out, you don’t have to be a child to love the Sugarfina experience. Sales tripled annually during the company’s first four years in business and continued to grow at a healthy rate after that. As sales took off, the distribution network and operations became more complex.
“The problem we were facing is it was not an integrated environment, so we didn’t have real-time visibility into any of our financial performance related to inventory costing, our balance sheet, any of that,” Sugarfina Senior Director of Strategic Planning Danny Coorsh said. “So the reconciliation between the financial and inventory systems was a challenge and the granularity with which we were able to analyze the business wasn’t great.”
To gain the insights it needed to manage this complexity, Sugarfina replaced its existing systems with NetSuite and quickly resolved many of the challenges it faced.
Bringing B2B Ecommerce to Wholesalers
With a new platform to support its growth, Sugarfina could shift its focus to improving the experience for wholesale customers. By using NetSuite’s B2B ecommerce platform – which was up and running in just 21 days as part of the SuiteSuccess engagement model – Sugarfina was able to save time and focus more on the experience it offers customers.
“I’m confident that the B2B site will really change that model and allow the customers to self-serve,” Coorsh said. “They’ll have a more pleasant experience. I really think that people like to be able to get information on their own rather than being stopped by a gatekeeper. And it will free up our sales team to actually go after new business or analyze data and continue to expand the revenue stream from our existing customers.”
Sugarfina found its golden ticket, proof that unlocking your imagination can always lead to success, even in a difficult retail environment and market like confections. And the experience it has built not only delights customers, but cannot be replicated by competitors, setting up the business for continued growth.