All three of the businesses selected as finalists in this category operate open-plan kitchens allowing their bakers to be seen live in action, with well-trained service staff going the extra mile for customers too.
Sponsored by CSM Ingredients, the award looks to find firms that offer exceptional in-store experiences via clever layout design, customer engagement initiatives, or technology innovations.
Here are the finalists for the new category for the Baking Industry Awards 2023:
108 The Bakery
Combining the feeling of a French boulangerie on a Saturday morning with a favourite neighbourhood coffee shop, this artisan bakery in Romsey near Southampton aims to make every customer feel part of its club.
Staff are trained to gauge whether a customer wants a make quick purchase or prefers to spend time chatting through the options and receiving recommendations. They are also knowledgeable about the products, suppliers and processes, highlighting specific flours that are locally sourced, organic or regeneratively grown.
Indoor and outdoor seating has been added to the shop to allow customers to enjoy the ambience with their drinks and snacks. Bakers are also able to jump in to assist service and help keep queue times down.
Judges loved seeing sourdough loaves freshly produced in front of them, and described the bakery as dainty and unique with products that were “absolutely fantastic”.
The Binge Box
The focus on skills development of staff is evident at this Barnstaple-based cake specialist, which has grown from its start in a kitchen in 2019 to operate a main shop in Barnstaple, a pop-up shop in Bideford, and a mobile unit for local markets and events. A new shop in nearby Braunton is expected to open soon.
All staff are said to be trained in customer service, first aid, Level 3 hygiene, and food intolerances, with regular updates conducted via online workshops. Attention has been given to customers with additional needs to ensure the shop is safe and accessible for them as well as support animals, with some team members sitting a course in sign language this year. Customers were said to be highly appreciative for the shop to offer electricity and free hot food and drinks when Storm Eunice left people in North Devon vulnerable in February last year.
Judges liked the easy to order nature of the business, commenting that staff were friendly during their shop visit and that there was a good offering of cakes.
The Old Store Norfolk
Having opened doors in the village of Snettisham just 16 months ago, the family-run bakery has managed to keep hold of 90% of its staff thus far with some benefitting from in-house development to progress to higher roles. Despite working a busy shop, the front of house team intends to be well organised and relaxed enough to radiate a positive energy towards customers.
Staff welcome questions from customers and are able to answer them thanks to extensive product knowledge training and daily shift briefs on the latest offerings. Other learning materials are communicated online as well.
Judges were pleased to be greeted by a smile and had a warm interaction with staff in general, who showcased excellent awareness of allergens.
Thanks to our category sponsor
Baking Industry Awards finalists for 2023 revealed
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Greeting the Customer Experience Award 2023 finalists