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If you’ve ever been to Atlanta, chances are you’ve seen a rainbow umbrella pitched over a freezer cart, a colorful chalkboard sign, and a cheerful attendant ready to sell you a popsicle. If you happened to stop and smartly decide to make a purchase, you most certainly became a fan of King of Pops.
King of Pops was started by 2 brothers, Steven and Nick. While visiting their other brother in Central America, they fell in love with the hand-crafted fruit pops there and began discussing creating a pop business back home, never thinking it was more than a silly pipe dream.
Except fate had other ideas, and when Steven was laid off from his corporate gig a little later, they decided to make that pipe dream a reality.Seven years later, King of Pops now operates in 8 cities, has opened 2 bars, bought a farm to grow their own produce, and expanded their offerings to include pops for dogs and even Christmas tree delivery! Clearly they love tackling that next big idea. But sometimes logistics can get in the way of execution.
Currently Steven and Nick are working through the struggle of fulfilling online orders. They’ve had to face the issue of finding packaging that suits their high environmental standards while making sure their perishable goods stay intact — and they’ve been slowly revamping their website to make online ordering easier.
King of Pops is well known for their commitment to sourcing local produce, supporting ethical farming, and reducing the harmful impact we humans wreak on the environment. So when they had to figure out a way to ship their pops, they knew Styrofoam couldn’t be their long-term solution. Eventually they realized that shipping in reusable basic coolers could work for them. It’s not exactly a common way of doing things, but King of Pops isn’t concerned with fitting into a normal mold.
“We are already selling a premium product and the price for a reusable basic cooler was only marginally more, so we decided to try putting the whole cooler right in the mail,” Steven says. “It’s certainly not for everyone, but it works for our tribe.”
Once they made that decision, they had to find a cooler that would work for them. If the temperature inside the container fell by just a few degrees, the pops would melt. Even if they didn’t go bad, the melting and refreezing would ruin the form of the pop.
“Shipping frozen is just tough. Our product is natural and we try to keep it as simple as possible, so there are no emulsifiers or stabilizers. This means the pops have to stay really cold.”
Even after months of cooler tests and practice shipments, they knew the potential for melting would always be there due to the unpredictability of shipping. “When we put together our plan, we had to assume that a few of our orders would not arrive in perfect condition and build in a budget to make sure we can do whatever it takes to do right by those customers,” Steven told me.
Once all the pieces were in place, they set up their website to be as order-friendly as possible to encourage online sales. “The bar for an acceptable website and online presence in general is constantly on the rise,” says Steven. “It cracks me up to look at our first website, and that was only 7 years ago. Sites like Squarespace have made it much easier to make a beautiful website, so there is really no excuse. And then you want to try to be above the bar, so it just never stops.”
That’s a pretty solid e-commerce mantra, right there: “It just never stops.” For a company whose marketing tactic is to get outside and be physically visible, fitting in the e-commerce piece might not come entirely naturally, but King of Pops has been vigilant about pulling ahead of the competition. Making their own rules and defining their own standards has allowed them to maintain that continued growth over the last 7 years.
Before I wrap up this issue, I’d like to take a minute to say bye! I’ve joined a new team at MailChimp, so I won’t be writing any more What’s in Store emails. But don’t worry! The series will continue with writers you’ve already met, like Kasia and Melissa, and new people you haven’t heard from yet.
And I’ll still be behind the scenes, designing these emails and writing silliness on top of photos. I just went back to look, and Issue #1 was written almost exactly one year ago: April 22, 2016! It’s been a fun year! I can’t wait to see all the new folks What’s in Store will meet between now and April 2018.