The Business Opportunity
The demand for high-quality chocolate has been increasing rapidly since the early 1990s. Several local and global companies are competing in this market. Godiva Chocolatier is a well-known international company based in New York whose stores can be found in hundreds of malls worldwide. The company was looking for ways to increase its sales, and after rejecting the use of a CD-ROM catalog, it had the courage to try online sales, as early as 1994. The company was a pioneering e-business that exploited an opportunity years before its competitors.
Teaming with Fry Multimedia (an e-commerce pioneer), Godiva.com was created as a division of Godiva Chocolatier. The objective was to sell online both to individuals and to businesses. Since its online beginnings in 1994, the Godiva.com story parallels the dynamic growth of e-commerce (see Reda 2004). Godiva.com went through difficult times—testing e-commerce technologies as they appeared; failing at times, but maintaining its commitment to online selling; and, finally, becoming the fastest-growing division of Godiva, outpacing projections. Godiva.com embodies a true success story. Here we present some of the milestones encountered. The major driving factors in 1994 were Internet user groups of chocolate lovers, who were talking about Godiva and to whom the company hoped to sell its product online. Like other pioneers, Godiva had to build its Web site from scratch without EC-building tools. A partnership was made with Chocolatier Magazine, allowing Godiva.com to showcase articles and recipes from the magazine on its site in exchange for providing an online magazine subscription form for e-shoppers. The recognition of the importance of relevant content was correct, as was the need for fresh content. The delivery of games and puzzles, which was considered necessary to attract people to EC sites, was found to be a failure.