They say there’s nothing like the food business. However, there is something very special about a food business that stands the test of time and evolves along the way to offer a new 21st Century experience. That’s exactly what TASTE has done.
Today, the humble family business that started in 1973 as a simple wine and cheese shop has blossomed into a successful specialty food company.
TASTE.online is a worthy extension of the contemporary food business as a marketplace that allows people to enjoy the TASTE experience from a super slick website.
We spoke with Jon Pruden, President at TASTE, to talk about the business and to get his take on the basic elements needed to build a successful online business. Read on!
What inspired you to start Taste.online? Tell us the story.
The first TASTE UNLIMITED was launched as a wine & cheese shop in Virginia Beach, VA in 1973. As the internet emerged decades later, tasteunlimited.com became the web domain for what had, by then, become an iconic local business, part specialty foods market and part upscale café, with a growing number of locations.
In 2006, TASTE was re-imagined as a contemporary and dynamic specialty food company. With the brand’s evolution, we adopted the TASTE.online web domain, rebuilt our site, and further developed our online presence.
Today, TASTE.online is a critical extension of the TASTE experience as both a retail marketplace and online café ordering platform, as well as a portal to our employment database and our TASTEBUDS Rewards customer loyalty program.
What are your future plans for Taste?
TASTE continues to grow all aspects of our business. This year we are opening our ninth TASTE location —TASTE Westhampton in Richmond; our first location outside of the Coastal Virginia region where we are based.
We plan to roll out our DrinkBar concept, which focuses on coffee and craft drinks, and our Signature Breakfast Sandwich menu to more of our stores.
We will continue to grow the TASTE team with excellent leaders and team players to quickly approach the 400-employee benchmark. And finally, as the technological and digital aspects of the food industry evolve, we plan to innovate our strategies to always offer a unique, unmatched guest experience.
Doesn’t it break your heart when you find out that the perfect brand name in your mind for your business is taken? It’s quite disappointing to get a pop-up message, ‘That domain name has already been taken!’ when you search for your try to register a website name with your desired name on traditional domain extensions.
What is the one primary quality check element you keep in mind in this dynamic food-tech space?
For us, the single most important thing to keep in mind as we constantly adapt in the ever-evolving food tech space is to answer an imperative question; does this technology improve the guest experience?
When we are evaluating our point-of-sale platforms, online ordering mechanisms, partnerships with third-party delivery apps, and customer relationship management tools, our foremost consideration is making sure our guests receive a superior level of quality and service that resonates with what we deliver at our physical stores.
If that organic, personal connection is lost completely, then the technology probably does not fit the TASTE model.
What are the 5 basics for building a successful online business?
Here are the 5 basics to build a successful online business:
- A seamless and intuitive website user experience
- An aesthetic web design that reflects your brand.
- Strong SEO and SEM campaign to help harbor more site traffic.
- Website security to ensure the safety of user information.
- Adaptability and flexibility according to the ongoing digital trends.
Why did you choose a .ONLINE domain name? How is it helping you develop a unique brand?
Going with a .online domain allowed us to keep our website consistent with our brand as it evolved from TASTE UNLIMITED to simply TASTE. For a small, growing company like ours, a .online domain offers a lot of value as a feasible alternative to a .com.