Maine Lobster’s online business grows during pandemic


While most retail stores have seen their revenues plummet during the pandemic, the business of Get Maine Lobster, which ships lobsters and other fish to consumers, is increasing. Bored, isolated and frustrated, consumers need a spark in their lives. Why not order a lobster? Or fresh scallops from Maine?

In fact, Get Maine Lobster, headquartered in Portland, Maine, saw 1000% sales growth at the end of the year, shipping 3,000 products per week.

With people staying at home, online sales of lobsters to break the monotony skyrocketed while sales to restaurants plummeted.

CEO Mark Murrell acquired Get Maine Lobster in 2019. Previously, its business was 75% wholesale to restaurants and 25% retail to individual customers online and over the phone.

But after the Covid-19 strike, it turned into 99% of online revenue, with just slight wholesale sales to restaurants. Most restaurants have been closed due to lockdown.

Murrell, who is 47, attributed the surge in online and phone sales to customers during the pandemic who desperately wanted to “feel normal.” And wanting to do something unique like have Maine lobster delivered to your door.

Seeing the increase in sales, Murrell also said he had adapted and stepped up email marketing and social media updates, which “increased the speed.”

It has also stepped up its hiring, relying mostly on recommendations from friends, to recruit “pickers, packers and baggers,” Murrell said.

“Because the internet is doing very well, we’re probably going to do a major pruning of our wholesale business because we want to focus on that part of the business,” Murrell said.

In 2019, Get Maine Lobster acquired Union Wharf in Portland, ME, as its primary shipping facility. And this site also sells to the locals and Portland’s bustling tourist trade that thrived before the pandemic hit.

It also offers a variety of products, not just lobster. While lobster tails are a perennial favorite, it also sells local halibut, scallops, tuna, and Beef Wellington in gourmet packages.

A minimum shipping order requires the purchase of two live lobsters of about a pound and a half each, which costs about $ 85, although a large chunk of that cost involves shipping. The average order is $ 190.

Murrell says his target clients tend to be affluent, aged 55 and over, and around 54% female, as women tend to make the financial decisions.

About 78% of people who have ordered in the past two months when the pandemic hit are new customers. To encourage repeat purchases, discounts and incentives are offered.

“The lifetime value of a customer is $ 337,” he said, so many will likely reorder.

His fish business is centered in Maine. Lobsters are purchased from fishermen based in Stonington and Jonesport, Maine and Cisco Bay in the summer.

Much of its marketing comes from ongoing ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google, radio ads, and campaigns with iHeart, as well as friends recommending it to their friends.

In fact, this reporter encountered two Get Maine Lobster pop-up ads on two news sites while writing this column.

After one of his competitors, Luke’s Lobster, achieved considerable success in establishing retail stores beyond Maine, Murrell explored this avenue. “I don’t think a lot of restaurants will survive the new guidelines,” he said, so the opportunity is there.

Murrell is currently raising capital and meeting with angel investors and large companies like Johnson & & Johnson, which offers small business support, to explore the opening of a local Get Maine Lobster outpost in the summer. .

She also sells locally to her neighbors in Portland, who must call ahead and pay by credit card to keep her employees safe. Showing how much the shipping costs, locals pay $ 18 for the two Maine lobsters, a savings of $ 67 on online orders.

“Our business now represents approximately 98% of online sales and 2% of wholesale sales,” he said. Even though some restaurants are starting to ramp up, it now requires them to pick up the lobsters at the Portland headquarters, rather than exercise the workforce to have the lobsters delivered.

He expects 98% of online sales to prevail even after a new normal has returned. “It can go up to 95%, but it does not change much,” he admits.

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