GA Trade Nov-Dec interactive - page 11

Philadelphia region,” vonMutius
notes. “Very fewfine food retailers
show such a great level of commit-
ment to furthering German culture
and the German business commu-
nity.”
The Challenges of a
Seasonal Business
Lebkuchen is baked and packaged in
Nuremburg eachAugust. In 2013,
seventy-five pallets of Lebkuchen
were shipped toMostlyChocolate.
com’s 17,000 square foot warehouse
in Charlotte, NC. Perishables are kept
at optimum temperatures from the
moment they leave the factory as
shipping containers and the ware-
house are temperature controlled.
Lebkuchen shipments arrive in
September, October and November to
alignwith historic ordering trends.
Many tins have been ordered in
advance, even before they leave the
motherland.
“MostlyChocolate.com is an
8-months-out-of-the-year business
with 12months of expenses,” Valois
asserts. “I have a great staff and they
build relationships with our custom-
ers. Many customers call and ask to
speak to the same representa-
tive year after year. We
try to keep our staff
intact.”
In addition to the
famous Lebkuchen,
Mostly Chocolate
imports fromAsbach,
Reber, and a full
spectrum of other imported
fine food specialty companies.
Currently, the chocolate and specialty
sales season parallels the sales cycle
of Lebkuchen. This allows time for
travel to promote brand awareness,
updates to the website, catalog
review and planning, as well as sales
analysis and forecasting.
Valois is investigating innovative
ways tomove from seasonal sales to
continuous, 12-month revenue
generation. With growing frequency,
Valois has tracked chocolate orders
for companymeetings and corpo-
rate functions. “Chocolates
can be ordered year round.
We’re looking intoways
to extend sales of our
extensive line of
imported chocolates into
the off-season,” Valois
comments. “I’m also
considering buying addition-
al companies to fill holes in our
business model.”
Other challenges of his import
business experiences
are daily fluctua-
tions in exchange
rates, rising
shipping costs,
timing of sales of
perishable products,
and keeping products
affordable for customers. Repeat
business is themainstay of sales.
“Top priority is keeping our custom-
ers happy,” Valois affirms. “Being
accurate forecasters is crucial. It
ensures that we have the items our
customers want immediately
available. It’s this dependability that
keeps customers phoning and
ordering online. But the back end of
the order is equally important.”
Valois assures, “We double and triple
check all orders for accuracy before
shipping. There’s no room for error.
Every time we fulfill an order, our
reputation is on the line.”
n
C O V E R S T O R Y
RobertValois,MostlyChocolate.com
GermanAmerican TradeNov/Dec 2014
11
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