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Filling the Gaps: Acquiring Customers, Shipping, and CPG Strategies with Boarderie| EP. #90

June 21, 2023 | Author: Andrew Maff












Understanding and excelling in the CPG space can be quite an undertaking, especially with refrigerated goods. Today’s guest, Rachel Solomon - Partner, CEO, and Head of Growth - at Boarderie, discusses her wins and challenges with her revolutionary boards and charcuterie products.

On this 90th episode of The E-Comm Show, Rachel will be sharing how Boarderie has dominated the niched space and how leveraging different audiences, channels, and practices has successfully scaled her business. Tune in as Andrew and Rachel discuss CPG secrets, converting advertising strategies, and optimizing internal efficiency.


If you enjoyed the show, please rate, review, and SUBSCRIBE!

Have an e-commerce marketing question you'd like Andrew to cover in an upcoming episode? Email: hello@theecommshow.com



Filling the Gaps: Acquiring Customers, Shipping, and CPG Strategies with Boarderie






Andrew Maff and Rachel Solomon




CONNECT WITH OUR HOST: AndrewMaff.com  |  Twitter: @AndrewMaff | LinkedIn: @AndrewMaff 

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Rachel Solomon


Rachel Solomon is the Partner, CEO & Head of Growth at Boarderie.



I mean Shark Tank was incredible for us. It was a game changer in so many ways and just the exposure you get from it. The experience is incredible all around it is exactly like you see on TV. It really is.



Hey Everyone, this is Nezaar Akeel of Max Pro, Hi I'm Linda and I'm Paul, and we're Love and Pebbles.



Hi, this is Lopa Van Der Merch from RASA



and you're listening to and you're listening and you are listening to The E-Comm Show



Welcome to The E-Comm Show, presented by BlueTuskr, the number one place to hear the inside scoop from other e-commerce experts, where they share their secrets on how they scaled their businesses and are now living the dream. Now, here's your host, Andrew Maff.



Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. I'm your host, Andrew MAFF. And today I am joined by the amazing Rachel Solomon, who is the CEO head of growth and partner over at Borders. Rachel, super excited to have you on the show. You're ready to have a good time here.



Yes. Hi, Andrew. Thank you so much for having me.



Yeah, sorry. I know I'm a little giddy. I'm so I was looking forward to this one all day. So I've done a little bit of work in this space before. So I'm relatively familiar with it all the way you guys do it was better than what we ended up doing. I saw the episode you had on Shark Tank. And I know like some of the background of how you guys got going. And obviously, now you're a very large brand. So, so much to cover so much to talk about. I'm gonna try and shove it into a tolerable amount of time here. But let's pretend that no one knows who you are. And why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you started where you're at now and a little bit more about bordering?



Yeah, absolutely. So we are actually based out of West Palm Beach, Florida, and border-free as a brand. We ship the first completely pre-assembled cheese and charcuterie boards nationwide. So what that means is there's no cutting or prepping the board comes completely preassembled. We source artisan cheeses and meats from all over the world. And we are really the only the first and only company doing this. So we saw what was happening with cheese and charcuterie boards, the trends how much people were loving this trend. But it's really not a trend because people have loved cheese and charcuterie boards forever. I think social media just really blew up everybody's affection for it. And In conjunction with that, there's such a massive market for gift baskets, cheese and charcuterie, gift baskets, and boring, antiquated gift baskets that nobody really wants to receive, right? You get one of those, it sits in the corner of your office during the holidays, you open it, sometimes you don't, you know? Exactly. And so we wanted to change that. And we also wanted to offer people who don't have the artistic eye to create something that's beautiful an alternative to order it overnight shipped to your door. So that's really what we were doing. We're filling a gap in the market for really high quality, edible gourmet gifts, and also an option for people who love to host and love to eat interesting cheeses and meats and all these different accompaniments and shipping them overnight directly to your door anywhere in the country.



That's awesome. My wife makes fun of me because like weekends, if I'm just hanging out and I want to relax, I will make myself a charcuterie board. And I will just like to sit outside for a little while and just have a drink. And she's like you are so bougie sometimes I'm like, Well, I like it. So when I saw this, I'm like yes, we're doing this one. Yeah. I know. I mentioned like I've been in a space. So I haven't been in it wasn't like a charcuterie delivery, but it was one of the likes, kind of like popcorn and like that kind of thing. And the relatively similar thing with like, who's really eating this stuff? Like it drove me insane. One of the problems they had but I was super curious about and I'm betting it was just them because this was a client we worked with, well, not BlueTuskr but years ago at a different company was at they had issues with delivery of stuff melting or like something along those lines, or they had like bug problems and like warehouses, and that was tough to kind of keep stuff I guess. Oh packaged correctly. So how, how does that work? So I know from a CPG perspective like that's relative can be difficult, especially the melting so yeah,



absolutely. So in terms of food quality and safety, we've always gone for the highest standard which is SQF so we have a fully certified SQF facility. 8000 square feet of refrigeration, all the products are made produced, and shipped from a refrigerated facility. You know, it's just like a big igloo basically. And we ship it in custom design packaging that keeps the product chilled at 40 degrees in transit and everything is shipped overnight. So what you'll see with a lot of these big brands that are shipping edible gifts, they want the cheapest possible shipping right? They're going to ship today they're going to ship in three days it arrives when it arrives. We've really felt Just heavily on the customer experience, which is being able to choose your delivery date, knowing when it's going to arrive, and shipping everything expedited overnight, which is obviously expensive, but very worth it. Because when you receive a cheese and charcuterie board, you want it to feel fresh and chilled. We make everything on the same day that we ship it. And that's our standard, you know, we haven't compromised on that at all. Because to us, the customer experience of opening that box and having something fresh is the reason people come back. And so that's really how we combat that. Obviously, dealing with shipping is one of the most difficult parts of the business. Absolutely. But you know, FedEx and UPS, we use their highest shipping level, in order to just make sure it gets to customers on time in the best quality possible.



So you got to do it. Yeah, how are you? That's like the main focus on how you're acquiring customers. What channels are working best? What audience seems to be working the best right now? What's that approach?



Yeah, that's a great question. So it's something that we've started to build out over the past year, really. And when we started about two years ago, we didn't know anything about marketing, we didn't know anything about e-commerce, we didn't know anything about direct to consumer. And I came in, it was, you know, there were no roles, right, we were all partners in the business. And it was like, whatever needed to be done. And I think our strategy starting out was we're gonna on board with as many third-party retailers as possible to sell our product online, we will drop ship. So essentially, partnerships with companies like gold belly, William Sonoma costco.com, Neiman marcus.com, all these different third-party brands that had such a big presence, we're trying to build out their food category, in their edible gifting categories, we had onboard with them, they would send us the labels, and we would drop ship the product overnight to customers using their shipping account, they did all the marketing, and it was a revenue share, right. And so we did that for about a year in order to really get a solid profitable revenue stream that didn't rely on us spending all this money on advertising and hiring teams and hiring, you know, all that comes with, with direct consumer advertising a lot of times as a start-up, unless you have some revenue organically. Or like, you know, a profitable revenue, you're really just like in the hole for a while before you can get to the point where you have enough return customers. But we quickly realized that while that was great to help us have that baseline revenue, it wasn't gonna we weren't gonna grow at the level we wanted to without our own team, our own website, our own, you know, owning the customer in that relationship. And so about a year ago, we started building that out and now it's about 90% of our business. So I guess I didn't fully answer your question there. I gave you the backstory. Oh,



but I got more information, which is great. Yeah.



A lot of it has been, you know, Facebook, Instagram, we just started on Tik Tok. Lots of Google advertising Shark Tank was huge. Oprah's Favorite Things list was huge. Lots of organic media and press. I mean, we were super, super scrappy about it for the past year. I didn't have a single person on the marketing team. So we just did everything ourselves. Basically, we learned e-commerce, we worked with freelancers, and we built a website in Shopify. We did all the things you do when you don't want to spend money on hiring the right people to do it. And, you know, it just really worked. And so now I've actually hired two new people, a director of growth and a director of organic media, which is going to hopefully be extremely impactful for us as we continue to grow. And advertise because, as I said, it's become it by the end of the year, it'll probably be over 90% of our, of our revenue, comes from our own website.



Wow, how large is the team now?



So including production, the overall team's about like, 30.



It's impressive. It's pretty good. And you're far passing eight figures now. So that's awesome. Like the fact that you guys are that's still relatively small for the size of the business that you guys are. One of the things I'm going to ask you. So I see that I was poking around on the site, and I should have dug in deeper before I ask this question. I know you're doing a lot on the corporate side, which is genius. Makes sense? Well, actually, so before I get to that question, corporate versus traditional DTC, or your average consumer, I guess, what's that percentage look like?



Yeah, that's a great question. So, our corporate business during the holidays is a huge piece of it. I would say that during the normal course of the year, it's maybe only 10%. And that's, I think, because of the way that we're advertising people find us Corporate Online, right? But through our Facebook ads, somebody that works at a company will see us but a lot of times people are seeing it and they're like I Want to send it to someone it's extra special, right? It's, it's unique, it's different. I'm going to send it for a birthday, we have customizable birthday boards. And during the holidays, though it becomes that's when companies are sending out all their holiday gifts, right? And so that's a major push, I'd say it becomes 30 to 40% of our business. And we do the custom logo engraving on the boards and everything. But you know, there's maybe that metric during the normal course of the year, maybe a little underrepresented. Because I think a lot of realtors and people that have clients that are one-off clients, need to send a one-off client birthday gift. They're coming in and sending gifts to their clients. But it's just not it's not captured as a corporate order if that makes sense.



Yeah. Yes, one of the things I was thinking about was, I was thinking about the realtor. So if they're having like a ton of open houses, or like you get the really, you know, like you're I know you're in New York now. So there's a ton of those businesses that have meetings, like every day, and they have like a massive spread and everything. Do you have anyone that's like on a subscription plan?



Not yet, subscription is really interesting. And it's something that we're working towards. But with subscription, we want to be able to offer a variety of different new boards on a consistent basis. And that's going to require more scale. So we can barely produce during the holidays, we can barely produce what we need to produce in our existing facility. So we're having to build out a second one. But once we have, you know, the manpower and the space, I think we'll start working on lots of different product lines.



Yeah, I might have to subscribe. To make them any more be great. Yeah. So you started off the business in a very scrappy manner. I know you touched on that a little bit. But can we dive a little bit deeper into that? Because this does not sound to me, like a business that's easy to just bootstrap in the beginning and just easily to do so you had to have gotten extremely creative. So what was that like beginning process like? Yeah,



that's actually the fun story. So, my partners are amazing. Aaron, Julie, and then our CO Angel, actually ran one of the largest and most successful catering companies in all of South Florida. And they threw events for celebrities. And they were doing crazy, unbelievable events all the time. And then when the pandemic hit, everything stopped, right, the events were cancelled, and they had no idea how long it was going to be. They had bills to pay, they had employees to keep staffed. And Aaron came up with this concept to ship their best-selling product, which was cheese and charcuterie boards nationwide. And so they actually started doing it for local delivery in the area during COVID to people who are at home trying to sell the cheese and charcuterie boards locally. And then I actually got involved, like early on, and we started doing the nationwide shipping aspect of it. And what was so brilliant about the product that Aaron had designed was that it was designed to be shipped nationwide. So the boards and the trays all fit together the configuration, the packaging. And so from there, we really took it to the next level by building out the production facility. So the first proof of concept was our first brand cheese border, which we started selling through gold belly online. And within a few months, it became one of their highest-grossing products. It was unbelievable. We launched that brand in October 2020 as a proof of concept, and it just took off. And so from there, we knew we were onto something, we, you know, Aaron put so much into it, he put, you know, everything he had into it, I put a ton of money into it, we brought on a partner on the real estate side, who could help us build out the production facility. And from there, we just, you know, we started to grow. And that's when we started to onboard onto all these different third-party channels and eventually through our own website. So and up until we it's been very scrappy, but it's still very scrappy. We all wear so many hats. But we're really just now starting to build out our core team of you know, hiring marketing people hiring people that are in the core part of the business, helping run the day-to-day and helping with the growth because really outside of production and packaging and getting 1000s of boards out on you know, certain days. There were only four of us running the business.



Yeah. Have you considered going into retail at all? Is that how feasible is I would think the two to three-person one seems like something I would definitely find and like a Whole Foods or fresh market I don't have to do the work.



For sure. It's a great concept for that and we would love to go into retail. I think retail is a very difficult business in a lot of ways. It's super difficult to collect consumers but unfair Originally the perishability of the product and the quality of the ingredients we use, just doesn't have a shelf life. So we're cutting Fresh Artists and cheeses and packaging them. And usually what they use in that cases, it's called modified atmosphere to keep it what you see in the grocery stores, right? It's either vacuum sealed, or it has something in it to keep it fresh and preserved. And when you're doing so many different ingredients together, they all require a different, it's technical, but they all require a different modified atmosphere, gas concentration. And so we actually can't do it with lots of different products on the board. They have to be compartmentalized. And eventually, we will do something interesting for retail, I think, but it'll be a different product.



Yeah, that's a good point. That's why I don't do operations. So I'll touch on this a little bit. I know usually, every time I have someone on from Shark Tank, I try not to harp on it, cuz I know everyone probably asked you a million questions about it. But according to the show, you got to deal with Laurie did that whole thing? What was that whole experience? Like where are things at now? Did it actually go through? Because I know that doesn't always happen. Like, how was that?



Absolutely. So I mean, Shark Tank was incredible for us it it was a game changer in so many ways. And just the exposure you get from it. The experience is incredible all around and it is exactly like you see on TV, it really is I think, obviously you going into it, there's so much anticipation, but it's not like you get multiple takes, you know, you go out there you do. They ask you questions. It's not a reality TV show in the sense that they're filming it. And then it's a true reality TV show. I mean, I should say it's, it's, it is live and there's no second takes. thing. You know, once you get out there, you're not as nervous as you think you're going to be I think the sharks are really interested and engaged in you know, so much more about your business than they do. But in terms of like when it aired, it was the perfect timing. For us. It was November, right before the holiday season. So we got completely slammed, we did our full-year projections in a month. And so we were running out of inventory left and right, we were having to hire truck drivers to drive around to different places, essentially distributors, cheesemakers, and pick up inventory, and bring it to us directly. Because we couldn't get it distributed to us fast enough through our existing channels. It was, it was beyond anything we could have possibly imagined. We were doing over a million dollars in sales a week, at our website all through borderfree.com. And it was really a dream come true. I mean, we were, we were, at that point, not able to fully embrace it, because we were just trying trying to figure out how to meet the demand. And there were times when we definitely had to shut off the website. And, you know, just dealing with all those growing pains that happened so immediately, and we expected it to be big, I don't think we expected it to be that big. So that was a big game changer. And at the same time we we were featured in Oprah's Favorite Things list, which was a double whammy and just as you know it, it propelled the growth of our newly forming direct-to-consumer business through our own website so quickly. And you know, we were just so thankful for it. And Laurie, we did close the deal with her after the fact which was great, nice. He's really passionate about she's really passionate about the different ingredients we use. She has an amazing pulse for what consumers love what they want to see and what they're going to be interested in tasting. And so, yeah, it's been a really great partnership. And, you know, we're huge advocates of Shark Tank.



Yeah. Nice. That's awesome. That's good to hear. Like, you can definitely tell the viability of the product by how well you did post Shark Tank because there have been times where like, we'll have, you know, have someone on the show and yes, they'll still obviously be something but it's never like they're not doing their year projections in a month. So that tells you right there that there clearly was a need for this, which is awesome. Has your episode re-aired yet?



It did re-air in February. Yeah. Did you see it again? Valentine's Day, we did see a little spike. It wasn't like it definitely wasn't like it was when it aired though in November. It was like it was a decent spike. But at the same time, we've been growing so much to our own channels and doing so much marketing that we weren't doing before Shark Tank aired. I think the spikes are a little less dramatic if that makes sense. Like we've grown so much in the past six months that when it spikes it doesn't seem as crazy as what happened when we were doing so much less.



Yeah. So how are you what's happening going forward? How are you capitalizing on the growth? What do you see for you guys over the next like couple of years here?



Yeah, that's a great question. So really we're trying to get the market that is the best product-market fit for us is the gifting market. And it's such a massive market. So we're gonna continue to expand within that market as much as we possibly can. I think specialty products for different occasions are really where we're focused over the next couple of months. We've done customizable birthday boards, so you can go on our website, and you can customize it with someone's age and send it to them for their birthday with their age on and it comes with candles. And it's like a border-free birthday cake like a birthday board instead of sending a cake right? And all different stuff like that really focusing doing focus groups on the different cheeses and what people love and sourcing, interesting stuff, having unique meats that are custom made for watery that you can't get anywhere else. Same thing with the cheese's developing our own flavors, our own profiles, and stuff that we just know customers are going to love. And then I guess on the marketing side, that's where we're really starting to build out the team. And focus on education around what we're what the cheeses we're using are where they're from the way that you should pair them and eat them and really just becoming an A go-to household name in the cheese and charcuterie space outside of the fact that we obviously ship these boards everywhere and we sell cheese and charcuterie. We also want to be a source for it and a name in the industry for you know who has a household name and cheese in charcuterie.



Yeah, exactly. Because that's the other thing too, right? Like you guys aren't using like, it's not like slices of craft and like, cut up hotdogs like this is some nice stuff. Like every time I looked, I was like I this is why am I making this at home and I can just order it. Where are you? Where are you sourcing everything from? Like, is it all just all over the world? Or is it that you kind of have just different distributors and stuff that you work with?



We're sourcing from all over the world. When we started, our volume was much lower. So we weren't sourcing directly from distributors. But we were sourcing or I guess from producers, we were sourcing through distributors. In lower volumes. Now we're going directly to the producers around the world. In Italy we get a lot from Italy, we get a lot from England. Dutch cheeses are really great. A lot from Wisconsin because they make fantastic cheeses. We really love some specialty meat producers that get you to know Italian truffles and truffle Salami is truly incredible. And then there are lots of really amazing meat producers in the US too that have specialty artists and flavors that you wouldn't find in your local grocery store. So we're all over the place. The great thing now is we used to have to go and find all the ingredients and go to the food shows and try stuff now people send us stuff which is coming to you directly in your office. It's there's never a shortage of cheese tastings. So that's the fun part.



That's awesome. Rachel, thank you so much for being on the show. I don't want to take up too much of your time. I know you're super busy. I would love to give the opportunity here to let everyone know where they can find out more about you and more about border-free



Yeah, absolutely. No, thank you so much for having me. Um, you know, all our products are sold on borderfree.com. It's just boarderie.com. And, you know, we have our whole brand story, everything about who we are and what we do. And we're just you know, so thankful for all the growth and all the customers and I'm looking forward to a great rest of the year.



Beautiful. Thank you so much. Obviously, everyone who tuned in. Thank you so much for tuning in, do the usual rate review, subscribe or whatever you want to do on whichever platform you choose, and then head over to theeccommshow.com You can check out all of our other episodes but as usual, thank you all for joining Rachel thank you again and everyone we'll see you all next week.



Thank you for tuning in to The E-Comm Show head over to ecommshow.com to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or on the BlueTuskr YouTube channel. The E-Comm Show is brought to you by BlueTuskr, a full-service digital marketing companies specifically for e-commerce sellers looking to accelerate their growth. Go to bluetuskr.com Now for more information. Make sure to tune in next week for another amazing episode of The E-Comm Show.
















































































































































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