Case Study
0 min read

Porter Road’s Lean Team Grows Corporate Customers 300% with Zest

February 28, 2023
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Porter Road's case study stats at a glance: Porter Road grew December 2022's corporate customers by 300%, grew YoY gift orders 25% as a percent of total orders, and grew 61% YoY average gift order value.

For meat-lovers, there are few things more satisfying than the whiff of bacon wafting by, perfectly seared steaks, or a crispy-skinned chicken straight off the smoker. Reaching the carnivore's nirvana, though, starts with the quality of the meat.

Porter Road is one butcher shop bent on setting the highest standards. Since 2010, co-founders Chris and James have been committed to the quest of quality meat. After starting a catering business together, the two found it tougher than a rump roast to get their hands on quality, local meat from trustworthy sources.

In lieu of looking endlessly for the right meaty match, they took matters into their own hands and Porter Road was born. With a mission to fix a broken food system by working directly with domestic farmers and creating rural agricultural ecosystems across harvest and processing operations, this is a company out to give everyone—consumers and farmers—better options.

Porter Road's website header image.

Eight years after setting up shop, the duo expanded their brick-and-mortar store in East Nashville to the world wide web. This step meant the excitement of offering pasture-raised meat from coast to coast, but it also meant facing new challenges.

From catering to a broader customer base, tackling wide-ranging support needs, and tapping into new channels like online gifting, the crew at Porter Road has been navigating growth. With competition and ecommerce trends moving toward more tech, though, Zest entered their story at just the right time.

The Challenge: The Cons of Hands-on Corporate Gifting Start Outweighing the Pros

At the heart of Porter Road (tucked beside bratwurst and beef sticks) sits transparency and integrity. When running a physical location, it can seem simple to offer white glove, top tier service to every customer to come through the door. Online, however, creating an experience that upholds brand values while meeting the modern needs of online shoppers from around the country gets trickier.

Many ecommerce shoppers today have elevated expectations like two-day shipping, 24/7 customer service, and personalized shopping. Ecommerce technology has rapidly advanced, and keeping up with the Bezoses is a never-ending journey—especially for small teams like Porter Road’s.

Opening up online was the best move to get sustainably raised meat into the hands of a broad customer base, but bringing a quality gifting experience online was starting to kink the ecommerce hose. The brand’s variety of products has always made popular gifts, so it made sense to stretch the one-to-one gifting experience to meet the demand for one-to-many gifting.

Before teaming with Zest, Porter Road was paying meticulous attention to often large corporate gift orders and working to accommodate each unique client’s gifting needs. This meant hours of manual work for the in-house customer service team and the gifter. Nailing each gift order’s products, budget, quantity, and destination required intake forms, emails, and loads of back-and-forth communication.

Not only was the manual workload becoming a burden, but data accuracy was a growing concern. One of the most important pieces to ecommerce gifting is making sure details like recipient address are 100% right, 100% of the time. But with many moving parts to the typical online gifting process, those details are prone to one missing house number or typo wrecking the whole gifting moment.

In other words, it wouldn’t take much for a corporate gift project to turn into a bottlenecked headache.

A deeply hands-on gifting process has a few benefits, like the strong relationship between brand and gifter and the ability to customize the entire project, but the drawbacks were getting heavy for Porter Road’s lean team. The sheer amount of time, worrying about accurate information, managing inventory, and tracking each order were frustrating parts of the process for everyone involved.

On top of it all, the team started wondering if all of this hands-on time was actually deterring demand and driving gifters to find quick and convenient gifting options elsewhere. Digital gift cards and gifting marketplaces were outfitted with seamless technology that Porter Road didn’t have, and that’s the experience many modern consumers are seeking online today.

The Solution: Clearing the Plate With a Corporate Gifting Platform

Good gifting needs to be authentic and thoughtful. Every time someone picks Porter Road to be a part of that uniquely special moment is a joy, which is one mega motivator to make it the best experience possible. “We had always wanted to improve the gifting experience, but we hadn’t been able to prioritize it,” said Kara Sharpe, Porter Road’s head of marketing. The company’s experienced a lot of pivoting, innovating, and growth since logging online, and finding time to set aside and focus on gifting was hard to do.

A quote by Kara Sharpe, head of Porter Road's marketing, saying "We had always wanted to improve the gifting experience, but we hadn't been able to prioritize it."

After meeting with Zest’s co-founder, Alex, partnering with an innovative gifting platform went from a “someday” to a “must-have” solution. Getting started with Zest and finally putting the spotlight on gifting was fast, easy, and uncomplicated.

“The Zest team worked quickly and communicated clearly on what to expect,” said Kara. Which is great, because time was of the essence.

The timing of Zest and Porter Road’s meat-cute happened right before the fourth quarter holiday gifting spree started. With the clock ticking and no IT hands to spare, easy implementation was key to a successful gifting season. Porter Road’s branded gifting storefront was up and running in no time, all without a single hiccup.

Porter Road's Zest gifting storefront.
Porter Road's Zest storefront stocked with ready-to-ship gifts.

Zest’s group gifting platform gives Porter Road the technological leg up it had been missing, which means no more worrying about losing demand to more tech-centric gift-buying competitors. Porter Road was able to connect to its Shopify backend and upload its most popular gift packages.

Along with a curated catalog of gifts, they were also able to upload branded touches like digital gift wrap colors and gift card designs. In lieu of settling for an outdated form, shoppers seeking gifts could now shop for gifts in an immersive and convenient way. Without phone calls, emails, or forms creating bottlenecks, online corporate gifting became a frictionless process that saved gifters and Porter Road’s team time.

The team at Porter Road was also able to take advantage of Zest’s Custom Projects feature. For returning clients or those requesting unique gifts beyond the Zest catalog, Porter Road was still able to offer a hands-on gifting experience to meet those one-off needs and drum up a custom invoice in a fraction of the time.

A Zest custom project set up by Porter Road.
The Custom Project feature enables brands to create one-off invoices for corporate clients that include custom products, prices, and more.

Plus, Zest’s baked-in ability to gather gift recipient addresses as part of the gifting experience meant no more worries about shipping details and data accuracy. When recipients are able to easily enter their own address, it saves stress and time during the gift ordering process.

With a renewed ability to handle a significant influx of one-to-many gift orders, the 2022 holiday season was the first time Porter Road added their group gifting option to marketing messaging in emails and across the website. The company’s broad audience was finally able to gift the meat they love in a totally new and seamless way, spreading the best meat even further around the country.

The Results: Finding More Time, Gifters, and Understanding

Soon after partnering with Zest, the team at Porter Road was seeing the benefits of a prioritized gifting experience. Worries of too many time-consuming gift orders, lost gifting leads, and little transparency surrounding the channel as a whole were wiped away—all in time for the 2022 holidays.

Porter Road’s team got back time.

It’s not uncommon for the support team to field inquiries about group and corporate gifting. What used to take long conversations that dug deeper into gift details is now a swift redirection to the gifting storefront. It’s a simple solution that saves time and, ultimately, offers a much better experience for the gifter.

Since setting up a Zest gifting storefront, more than 85% of corporate orders process through the platform. This significantly reduces the workload on Porter Road’s customer service team and puts priceless time back in their schedules.

Gift orders were up.

Porter Road doles out high-quality, highly desirable gifts. People who were dead set on sending the best meat to friends, family, and coworkers were willing to work through the forms and back-and-forth. However, once friction was finally stripped from the gifting process, a wave of orders was sure to follow the newfound ease and convenience.

  • Gift orders as a percent of total orders was up 25% YoY.
  • Average shipment value was up to $148 (versus $92 last year).
  • Average corporate order value was up to ~$700.
  • December volume of corporate customers increased almost 4X YoY.

Porter Road always had a hunch that some gifting hopefuls were opting for faster options, especially if they procrastinate around the holidays and time was short. But now it’s clear that a new gifting experience as seamless as shopping for yourself was the solution to unmet gifting needs across their audience. In the final holiday push of 2022, Porter Road met tons of new corporate gifters (and their lucky recipients).

Thanks to Zest’s unique lead capture opt-in during the gift process, Porter Road can also stay in touch and top of mind to engage, nurture, and generate repeat gifting business for the year ahead.

A deeper understanding of the channel was uncovered.

Before Zest, Porter Road was only able to dissect the gift orders that came through their intake form. This was a relatively small window compared with how much there is to know about gifting as a channel.

With Zest, Porter Road has a better understanding of baseline corporate gifting demand. Better insight into their gifting channel—including when, why, and how gifts are sent—and the impact of the new marketing messages deployed in 2022 creates a clearer image around their audience’s unique behaviors and needs. Porter Road can follow what resonates with their customers and dial in messaging, marketing channels, and gift offerings to maximize the channel’s potential.

Gearing up for a Year of Great Gifting With Zest

With the 2022 holiday season in the rearview, Porter Road is excited to push their gifting boundaries with Zest. Since getting started, Zest has released new feature updates that empower brands like Porter Road to make gifting a standout experience for their customers.

The gifting tech now at Porter Road’s fingertips makes this East Nashville butcher shop an ecommerce gifting go-to. While a slick and seamless gifting experience opens up new opportunities for Porter Road, it also means putting the best meat, raised in the best ways, in more homes across the country. And that’s what Porter Road is all about.

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Liz Lorge
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