For Drop by Dough, having an online presence and professional website is probably not within any of the founder’s business plans. As a successful brand in Bangkok, their strong social media presence and word-of-mouth popularity helped them grow rapidly. But as the story goes, the pandemic was a game changer.
Let’s learn about this Bangkok-based homegrown brand that opened their doors to customers a few months before the pandemic hit.
The journey which inspired Drop by Dough
Bringing inspirations round the world back to Bangkok
Their journeys around the world sparked off an idea, and a successful business.
Before creating Drop by Dough, a highly recognizable artisan doughnut brand in Bangkok, Chalermphol Akkarapinyokul (Oatsu) and Narongrit Sritalanon (Oat) were holding down full time jobs in the branding and advertising space. As their side hustle, they were also creators of Oat x Somewhere, a Thai travel blog which has found its way into the hearts of many young urbanites.
Just like many avid travellers, Oat and Oatsu were constantly on a lookout for new cafes and experiences overseas. It was during their trips to Melbourne, Copenhagen and Seoul that they discovered artisanal doughnut makers and spotted an opportunity.
Bangkok is a food haven and competition is stiff in the cafe scene. Still, the charismatic duo found a differentiating factor in these artisan doughnuts and took a leap of faith. Drop by Dough was born out of their love for Scandinavian-style design and uniquely flavoured artisan doughnuts. With that, they wanted to bring the best of their experiences back to Bangkok.
Overcoming challenges to start their first business venture
Thinking back, it was a risky move as artisan doughnuts were a relatively new concept in Bangkok. Both of them were also new to running a business, so it was a steep learning curve at the onset. Juggling between learning doughnut making and managing the business, they were committed to excellence in their brand and product. Together with their chef, they embarked on overseas learning journeys, seeking out the best of doughnut making. Combining their prior experience in managing brands, with a little help from friends who owned businesses, Oat and Oatsu eventually started their first Drop by Dough outlet in a restored townhouse located at the Udom Suk suburb.
The outlet spots a magnificent interior in stunning combinations of Prussian blue and teak, adorned with carefully curated artworks from around the world. Drop by Dough created a brand experience with its attention to design and unique menu. In turn, these drew queues and crowds at their very first store from Day 1.
The duo focused on bringing the Drop by Dough experience to folks in Bangkok, opening two additional outlets within the city. Given their experience in blogging and community engagement, they were able to build a strong following on social media. A lot of publicity happened organically on social media, where the popularity of Drop by Dough took off as many flocked to their instagrammable locations.
Besides its beautiful interior, their doughnut offerings were unique in Bangkok, where doughnuts were mainly sold by large retail chains. The winning combination of aesthetics in their products and location aided their growth in popularity throughout the years. During peak travel seasons, many customers from all around the world visited Drop by Dough outlets. Some customers even pre-ordered their donuts in advance before taking flights home.
Pivoting from in-store experience to online selling during the pandemic
The pandemic hit a few months after the first Drop by Dough outlet was established.
For a brand with its foundation firmly built on its physical experience, Drop by Dough initially saw their business affected after the local government announced lockdowns. On top of that, the travel ban globally meant that a significant portion of their customers were not able to visit their retail outlets. Given that Drop by Dough was a less than one-year old business when the pandemic hit, they had to adapt rapidly.
Prior to the pandemic, Drop by Dough’s marketing and promotions were mostly done in-store. With the retail experience affected, they had to quickly pivot their sales and marketing activities online. Oat and Oatsu pivoted to online selling and listed Drop by Dough’s products for sale on delivery apps, which helped to ensure sales continuity. Putting on their creative hat, they created beautiful doughnut packages and ramped up publicity on social media platforms. As a result, their products continued to generate great sales despite COVID-19. These Drop by Dough donut care packages became a hot favorite amongst customers. Many people ordered them as takeaways or purchase them as gifts for their friends.
“During the pandemic, we realised there were many customers buying our donuts and sending them sent to hospitals for doctors and healthcare workers. Most of them request for us to leave notes of encouragement, and I am very happy to know that our donuts were able to bring comfort and joy to our healthcare heroes during this challenging period.”
Establishing Drop by Dough’s first website and online presence with GoDaddy
It was during this pandemic period that they saw the importance of a business website and online presence. While they were able to react towards uncertainties presented by COVID, they started thinking long term and realised that in order for Drop by Dough to continue scaling and reach more people, having a strong online presence is crucial.
Reasons for a website
For Oat and Oatsu, the need for a professional website has been a long time coming. It was no longer sufficient to depend solely on their physical stores to reach new customers. The pandemic basically accelerated the process of establishing their first website.
We asked them about the reasons for building a professional website at this juncture. They cited the website as part of their long term plan, and to close some of their existing service gaps for their customers.
“A website would help to build a professional image for Drop by Dough online. It creates credibility for the business, and customers would have an official space to look for updated information. On top of that, we hope that more people, especially people outside of Bangkok will hear about GoDaddy. With a website, people can discover our brand online, beyond our social media presence. Given our long term plans of expanding internationally, it is crucial for people to be able to find us online.”
Depending on third party platforms during the pandemic to continue selling to customers, Oat and Oatsu identified gaps they would like to resolve via a business website.
“With our own website, we would be able to create a uniquely Drop By Dough experience for our customers. During this period, we realised that the platforms we were using did not support pre-orders. There were also limited options for our customers to customise orders. Through our website, we want our customers to be able to pre-order or make customised orders at anytime of the day, 24/7.”
How GoDaddy helped Drop by Dough establish their online presence
With GoDaddy, Oat and Oatsu found the perfect partner in taking their footprints online.
“Choosing GoDaddy is a great help for business owners who don’t have a lot of knowledge on building websites, and is concerned about price and website domain like us. GoDaddy takes care of everything for us and the price is reasonable. We were looking to create an e-commerce website where customers can pre-order our doughnuts and pay via a payment gateway. For everything we wanted, GoDaddy is a one-stop shop service. The wonderful guides at GoDaddy are always suggesting features suitable for our business. They listen to what we want on our website and shares tips with us on customers’ website preferences and ways to reach customers better.”
Drop by Dough: from Bangkok to the world with a strong online presence
Oat and Oatsu are constantly thinking of ways to keep their brand and offerings fresh, to keep customers coming back. In Bangkok, where new cafes are opening up rapidly, to excel and keep up will always remain a challenge. In such a competitive space, the duo built their success bit by bit.
When they first started their business, Oat initially targeted to sell just 50 pieces of donut per day. Fast forward to today, Drop by Dough churns out around 1,000 donuts daily.
With their online presence firmly lodged in the web, they are ready to take on the world. Oat and Oatsu hope to open Drop by Dough outlets in countries like Singapore and China.
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