My Bakery Packaging Biz: Five Steps to Launching a Physical Product

My Bakery Packaging Biz: Five Steps to Launching a Physical Product

A Little Back Story

I guess you could say that my business has been full of twists and turns. I’m someone who likes a solid plan and if there’s one thing my business has taught it’s that my Type A personality needs to chill. Sometimes just enjoying the journey and letting it take you to where you are “supposed to be” is better than trying to control all of the variables.

I say this because the plan I had originally created for my business looked very different than where I ended up. Some people have a strong vision for their business and execute it masterfully. That wasn’t me. I was lacking in skill, knowledge, experience, creativity, confidence…you name it…lacking in all of the traits that make up a successful entrepreneur.

Nonetheless, there was one thing I had going for me and that was determination. And because of that determination, I made the bold move to throw my plan out the window and just follow the signs, to experiment, to analyze what was going well in my business and what wasn’t, to test out new ideas…and then share it all on social media. It was scary. It meant not being perfect and instead being vulnerable. It meant risking public embarrassment, revealing how little I knew. But it also meant growth, improvement, and trust building with other bakers who were in the same place as me.

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you may know that as I became more skilled as an entrepreneur, my home bakery expanded to multiple income streams. My baked goods are now sold out of my Pink Bakery Cart in a very efficient model and I offer a variety of digital products (courses, eBooks, recipes, templates, etc.) primarily via my online membership programs.

My “plan” was to stop there. To continue to grow my online community and enjoy baking on my own terms. But, as I shared earlier in this post, the journey of entrepreneurship is often full of signs…signs we should pay to attention to and follow. For me, that meant realizing that the majority of comments left on my videos were about packaging. Where to get it, what size is best, the best ways to package baked goods, etc. I recognized that a gap existed in the market when it came to packaging.

From Idea to Launch

Once I’d made the decision to launch a packaging business, there was a lot to figure out. I think for this part of the blog post, it might be better for me to chunk the process into clear steps so it is not as overwhelming as it felt for me at the time. Keep in mind that these five steps are based on the assumption that one already has a business license and has determined their business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.). If you are not clear on how to become licensed as a home baker, then definitely join my Pink Plan.

Step One: Determine What Product to Sell

I’ve shared a bit about this already and how I was seeing clear signs of a gap in the market. For me, it was obvious what I should sell because I had collected a great deal of data on my social media videos.

Sometimes this isn’t always the case though and data will need to be collected via intentional market research. If you are not sure what to sell, here are two ways to garner information.

  • Post polls on your social media stories to determine products your target audience needs or prefers.
  • Experiment to determine what will sell before investing a large amount of money
    • Ex: Purchase (20) sprinkle spatulas and don’t yet worry about profit margins. Just see if you can sell them. If they do well, you can move to the next step and begin looking for a manufacturer.

Step Two: Make Key Decisions About Product

After I made the decision to sell bakery packaging, my next decision was to decide on designs, sizes, quantities, etc. I launched with just two designs for bakery boxes and two designs for greaseproof bakery papers that matched the boxes. I also chose just one size for the box (4.5 x 4.5 x 3).

When it comes to this step, less is more. I was SOOOO tempted to launch with all kinds of sizes and all kinds of designs. Would people take me seriously if I had two designs and one size? I’m so glad I slowed my roll and recognized that I didn’t have to overcomplicate things. Again, let the journey unfold.

Step Three: Find a Manufacturer

My next step was to find a manufacturer. Honestly, being such a DIYer, I considered purchasing equipment to print and cut boxes but then recognized my pattern of negatively impacting my work/life balance by thinking I can do everything on my own. No, I needed a manufacturer for this and I needed everything to arrive pre-packaged in my designated quantity sizes. Here’s what I found about manufacturers:

  • The main choices are either a US based or China based manufacturer and there are pros and cons to each.
  • US manufacturers will be priced higher but have a lower shipping price
  • China manufacturers will typically be priced lower and have a higher shipping price.
  • US manufacturers can have limited production capacity or specialization in certain types of products.
  • China's manufacturing sector can often handle large-scale orders efficiently.
  • Turnaround times for both vary but are generally never quick. I receive my boxes/papers approximately six weeks after placing my order and that’s if all goes well.

I went with a China based manufacturer using Alibaba. Alibaba is one of the world's largest and most comprehensive online commerce ecosystems, providing a platform for businesses to engage in online wholesale and retail activities, as well as cloud computing and digital media services. Alibaba has an app you can download to search for a large variety of different products. They offer nearly anything you can think of.

Step Four: MOQs

My next task was to determine the MOQs of each Alibaba supplier I was interested in. MOQ stands for Minimum Order Quantity. It is the minimum number of units or products that a manufacturer or supplier is willing to produce or sell in a single order. MOQ is often set to ensure that the production process is cost-effective and to meet the manufacturer's or supplier's operational requirements.

What this means for a small business owner, though, is that the MOQ can mean a large investment upfront. My supplier had an MOQ of 1,000 boxes and the shipping cost was quite high. Fortunately, I was launching my bakery packaging business 2.5 years into my entrepreneurship journey so I felt quite confident my boxes would sell. I planned to order more than 1,000 boxes so this MOQ worked fine for me.

However, rewind a couple of years and this would have been a risky venture for sure. That’s why I recommend testing items in smaller quantities (Aliexpress is great for this) to determine what sells well and refrain from investing in large quantities until you have some data collected.

Step Five: Marketing…Ugh

Once I’d found my manufacturer, designed my boxes, and placed my order, it was time to start marketing for my upcoming launch. Marketing was once my weakest areas of entrepreneurship and I’d definitely come a long way but, unfortunately, I found that marketing a physical product online is a whole other ballgame.

In all honesty, I’m still learning the ropes here. It’s a bit out of my comfort zone but I know that’s how we grow and get better. I can share a few tips that have been successful so far:

  • Use whatever you are selling. I use my boxes and my papers in my own business and that goes a long way with my customers.
  • Offer fun giveaways
  • Create a VIP list. I’ve recently done this for the first time and its been wildly successful. My VIP list is for bakers in my membership plans but you could use a simple email subscription list too. Individuals on the VIP list have a discount code and also get to shop early before the collection goes live to the general public.
  • Bundle items. Anything you can bundle together and offer a price discount is a plus.
  • Talk about your product more than you think you should. Social media is currently the #1 free marketing tool but keep in mind that only a fraction of people see anything you post. So if you post every day and fear you are overdoing it…most people saw maybe 2-3 of your 7 posts. Also, research shows that people need to hear the same message 7-20 times before they finally take action.
  • Most importantly, build trust. I have multiple workshops on how to build trust in my Platinum Plan. Really, if any home baker is wanting to expand their business beyond only baking, trust building is the #1 factor that will lead to success. It is a non-negotiable in the world of small business.

Additional Information that May be Helpful:

Okay, so those are the five main steps I took, however, there are definitely some other operational pieces that are important to know. I’ll summarize some tips below.

  • eCommerce Website: I use and love Shopify
  • Shipping: I use and love Shippo.com. They connect your website to their platform and you can easily print your shipping labels.
  • Free boxes: USPS offers free mailing boxes. FYI.
  • Use Poly Mailers: It is always cheaper to ship in a poly mailer, even if you place your shipping box inside a poly mailer (yes, its true).
  • Collected Sales Tax: Keep in mind that at the end of the year, all of the sales tax you’ve collected on your orders will need to be paid to your state. Shopify allows you to have all taxes collected “set aside” in your Shopify account rather than deposited to your bank account. This is super helpful because you won’t get hit with a lump sum at the end of the year.
  • Profits: Keep in mind that profits are very different with physical products than with digital products. The majority of my profits are still going back into my business. I’m increasing stock, sizes, and designs. We are also having a warehouse built on our property due to the increase in demand. These are all good problems to have but very different than selling digital products that have very low overhead. Are physical products profitable? Yes, very when done right but it may take longer to reap the benefits directly of those profits.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’m excited to see where my packaging business takes me and I hope this was helpful to you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, its that there are so many different ways to earn income as a home baker. The example I’ve shared here is by selling a physical non-baked product but I’m a huge advocate for digital products as well.

If someone would have told me that I could grow my home bakery to a multi-six figure business in a couple of years, I don’t think I would have believed them. So, please, take it from me…get started and become an expert analyzer. Follow the signs and be open to learning, succeeding, failing, and growing.

You are going to do great! Oh, and of course, don't forget to join my membership plan if you haven't already. It starts at $4.99 and is the best way to jump start your income potential and quickly get your business profitable while maintaining your sanity and work/life balance.

Back to blog

6 comments

Thank you for this information. Have you taken a course on digital sales? Does your platinum plan explain how to get started with that??

Monica

I’m a passionate home cook and lose myself when I’m in the zone . I’d love to feed everyone and I volunteer where I can

Lucy murdock

This blog is a map for success. I appreciate your honesty. Having started and lost a brick and mortar after being in business for only one year due to Covid I’ve learned so much, and your honesty is so helpful I agree 100% just do! It may be something small, a baby step is better than no steps at all.

Michelle Richie

Thank for the best common sense information, finally do able. I really appreciate the research you put into everything. A valuable time saver for sure. I have been researching so much for at least 4 years, and I am learning so much in you platinum program thank you!

Denise Ambriz

Hi Tiffany, your example has changed my life. Your honesty, and your business transparency has taught me so much. I was almost ready to launch, but had a setback as I split time between CA and MN. I care for my mother in CA, but I’m taking care of some personal things at home in MN at the moment. I have still kept up with following you (I’m In your platinum plan (life changing)!!!! I have kept up with ordering your packaging, and just ordered the newest dry product pouches! I made your semi-scratch chocolate cake with buttercream icing the other night, and it was the best!!!!
I thank you for all you offer in your membership. I wouldn’t have been able to take the steps to have my own business without it. It’s so clear and easier than I ever thought. Thank you !!!!

Jerri Burnside

Leave a comment