For Royal Wholesale Candy, headquartered in Mt. Laurel, NJ, the internet really did change how they conducted their business.
Started in the late 1980’s as a family-owned business with a handful of locations spanning the East Coast, Royal Wholesale Candy, eventually grew its business into 22 unique locations.
Sensing a need for wholesale candy distributors in the Philadelphia area, they restructured their business model to serve independent candy retailers in the tri-state region.
Then, in 2009 everything changed for the company as more people started buying things online. This shift was the sign that Royal’s V.P. Mike Dougherty needed to steer the business in a new direction, deciding to put all its energy and resources behind their website, www.royalwholesalecandy.com.
“At that point, our focus became primarily online. Now it’s full-blown. It’s really been nice to see the transition and growth, it’s a very exciting time,” says Dougherty.
Now, the company is one of the nation’s leading online distributors of bulk candy. With a user-friendly and fully-refreshed interface, customers are now able to browse their constantly updated product catalog and satisfy all of their bulk and wholesale candy needs online.
And, this all comes with onsite customer support. Royal Wholesale has a team of candy connoisseurs ready to help with any questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also have a Live Chat feature on their website that immediately connects you to a live team member. And, to help with their less tech-savvy customers, they still answer the phone any time of day.
“A lot of customers love to talk and we love to talk to them,” Dougherty says. “We found it very, very important to have that. The phone rings, you answer it. I think that’s really important about what we do. We don’t want your first order, we want your continual business and a lifelong customer.”
Their success comes with the help of their amazing staff of 25 employees which include sales, buyers, marketing, warehouse staff and delivery drivers. Their buyer, Jenny Otto, has been a member of the team for over 20 years.
“She really follows the market well,” Dougherty explains. “She’s in contact with all the brokers and the companies. And she really does a great job keeping up with what’s trending.”
She embraces the challenge of finding their unique collections of items and a wide variety of products. She started at the company in one of the original retail stores, gaining first-hand knowledge of how the whole process and industry works.
“Working in a candy store for 10 years helped me build a perspective for buying for retail stores. I know what they need, and can assess what new items will sell the best,” Otto says.
Otto and Dougherty scour various trade shows, such as the Fancy Food Show and the Sweets and Snacks Expo, looking for unique and high quality products. Once they find out about a new product, the staff at Royal work together as a team to decide which products they’re going to offer, how they are going to market them and to whom they will be sold.
“We as a team, evaluate the products, make sure we sample them and send them home to the real experts, our staff’s children,” Dougherty explains. “And we actually tell our customers that all the time, ‘Let your kids look at the website.’”
The marketing efforts do not end with the children. Royal does a great job of getting their name out there, whether it be with paid and/or social media or extremely targeted email and CPC campaigns.
Having the right mix of products isn’t the only thing that goes into their customer relationships. Royal helps stores sell candy from the fixtures up.
“From our know-how, we share with customers effective ways to run a retail or candy store,” Dougherty explains. “It’s just not going in and showing them a product at a certain price. We kind of have a feel of what a store needs all based on prior experiences.”
They can help the stores with everything from product selection to aisle set-ups.
With a climate-controlled 25,000 25,000-sq.-ft. facility, multiple delivery methods and the ability to ship anywhere in the continental United States overnight, Royal has become a pioneer in the wholesale candy industry.
Of course, whether it’s Merckens chocolate or a bag of Swedish Fish, Royal’s business model means shipping a lot candy — and with shipping comes a whole extra layer of precautions – and ensuring it arrives the way it is meant to be enjoyed.
“We have special foil packaging and ice packs to prevent melting and keep a tight shipping schedule to ensure customer satisfaction and freshness,” Dougherty explains.
With all the new trends constantly evolving, it’s no wonder Royal has to keep abreast on what is changing.
And in fact, one of the major recent changes happening in the confectionery retail sector now is that more and more stores are looking to save money and manufacture their own chocolate specialties.
Being one of the largest distributors of Mercken’s chocolates in the country, Royal has the ability to offer the lowest cost to consumers.
Royal Wholesale Candy is not going anywhere and are a mainstay in the competitive world of candy. Dougherty says they plan to continue to evolve with the industry, exceed in their goals by delivering the highest quality candy, at the lowest cost with the best customer support.
It’s that kind of attention to detail on a grand scale that makes Royal Wholesale Candy so successful with candy stores across the country — and the link everyone clicks.
At-a-Glance: Royal Wholesale Candy
Headquarters: Mount Laurel, NJ
Number of employees: 25
Number of retail customers: About 2,000Number of different products they offer: About 4,000