Using technology to help bring the restaurant look home

Thanks to technology, B2B businesses that would never consider retailing can now go directly to the consumer.
28 June 2018

Paul and Valda Goodfellow, co-founders of Goodfellows Ltd. Source: Goodfellows Ltd.

If you love food and fancy yourself a bit of a chef, the next thing you’ll be hankering for after mastering the art of cooking will be designer tableware that helps you express yourself.

Because let’s face it, when plated beautifully, great food becomes a feast for both the eyes and palate.

Spotting the trend a few years ago, Valda Goodfellow, the founder and director of UK’s B2B tableware company Goodfellows (G&G), decided it was time to take her business in a new direction.

“It’s really difficult to find restaurant-quality tableware that is artsy, creative, classy, and expressive all at once – and there’s a growing appetite for such products,” she said.

For her, it was the start of a new journey into the B2C market, one that was only made possible with the help of the internet, digital marketing, e-commerce, and other technologies.

In an exclusive interview with TechHQ, in the midst of working on her new internet shopping site, Goodfellows at Home, Goodfellow shares the company’s journey into the new, more vibrant, dynamic, and often more tumultuous retail category.

The bright idea, and the role of tech

Watching the news a couple of years ago, Goodfellow realized that the retail industry was about to face hard times as e-commerce sites became more popular.

From her perspective, as the owner of a tableware business, she was aware of the damage e-commerce sites would do to retailers that stocked tableware.

And although she was insulated from the effects since she catered to restaurants and hotels as a B2B company, she realized the potential that an e-commerce site could have, if it only catered to retail customers seeking the perfect tableware to serve the dish that they poured their heart into making.

Soon, she got started on a plan and after a brief test, is now preparing to go live with the idea.

The most important factor that made this journey possible was technology.

The internet, mobile penetration, digital marketing, advancements in user and customer psychology was what got the ball rolling for ‘Goodfellows at Home’.

“For us, we’d never have gotten into the market if we didn’t have the technology – we’d never open a brick and mortar shop. But tech makes it possible to cater to a new segment without all the hassles,” said Goodfellow.

Previous experiences and an open mind

Having been a businesswoman for decades, Goodfellow wasn’t new to technology or its possibilities, and she was careful to keep an open mind when it came to learning how it could be leveraged to open doors for her business.

Since G&G, in its daily course of work, primarily dealt with chefs and restaurateurs, the company had strong relationships with people who, in her eyes could be used as influencers for her new e-commerce business.

Past experience also taught her the value of digital marketing, the role of strong imagery, and the need for specialist talent, all of which helped her succeed in her B2B business.

“We already had the know-how, we just had to figure out how to use it to cater to a new market,” said Goodfellow, who knew she was on to something when she started thinking about user experiences.

Building an experience for the user

What’s interesting about technology is how users actually build it out based on their own experiences – to help their business succeed.

Goodfellow had a lot of experience making purchase decisions and understood the psyche of the customer, thanks to her interactions with chefs, restauranteurs, and influencers.

She used that experience to pick up on psychological cues that would help her e-commerce better appeal to customers. That, in itself, is more brilliant than it sounds because it’s something bigger and more influential e-commerce businesses are struggling to do.

“Customers want to feel like they’re part of something. We understand that. It’s why we’ve invested quite some resources to understand the user and tailored the site to provide a rich and engaging experience,” said Goodfellow.

It’s not that difficult, really, Goodfellow concluded – we’re just trying to help bring the restaurant look home!