RICC: Building a Social Networking Strategy
The Rock Island Chocolate Company was founded in 1997 by Seymour Burris, Jr. It is a small specialty retail store, selling fine chocolates purchased from other suppliers in near a strip mall downtown. Burris originally worked part-time and his wife Lottie worked full time managing operations. In 2000, they obtained heirloom Belgian chocolate recipes and in 2001 began to manufacture these. They needed to lease more space and purchase equipment. With the help of Quad City Bank and Trust they took out a 5 year loan and also had two angel investors. Their business began to grow and in 2002 they were selling to other suppliers, including licensing for special branding. They grew from a break-even revenue of $568K to a $10,600,000 revenue in 2009. In 2010 they went to the QC Ventures club with a goal of increasing their profitability to $20M by 2014. The investors pushed for a $50M goal if marketing/branding were done properly. Charlie Tunista, the IT Director, was asked by Burris to look into a negative blog post about RICC. The post described poor customer service when it came to shipping. Charlie needs to let Burris know how to handle the situation and if they should jump into social networking. The RICC strengths included a strong local following, business diversification to support private and supplier sales, a market available online for internet sales, steady increase of revenue, and a vision for growth and expansion of the market share. Their weaknesses include a lack of research and development, poor shipping options, poor customer service, no personnel assigned to manage customer service, satisfaction, and service recovery. This also causes a threat to the company due to the negative press. Another threat due to the lack of R&D is invasion of the market share by other suppliers growing their confectionary specialty suppliers.
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