Arbutus Farms Kitchen is an independent food company specializing in deli products, salads, fresh-cut vegetables and seafood. Getting their start 25 years ago in the Cowichan Valley, Arbutus Farms has come a long way and now distributes to 150 retailers nationwide such as Thrifty Foods, Save On Foods, and Country Grocer. If you shop at major retailers here on the West Coast of BC, chances are you and your family have enjoyed Arbutus Farms Kitchen products.
In 2015, the company expanded to a new state-of-the-art facility to help keep up with surging sales across the western half of the country. Today, growth is powered by high demand for products like Smash’Ems, the delicious pre-seasoned potatoes that go straight into the oven with no prep necessary. If you haven’t tried these yet, you better hit the store on your way home – the kids will love them.
Arbutus Farms Kitchen came to Caorda needing a fresh, new WordPress website that reflects the freshness of their products. The website looked a little left behind during recent years of growth and expansion. The old website was no longer meeting their needs or keeping up with the growth of their expanding product catalogue. For example, adding new products to the website was clunky, and each product update resulted in an improperly formatted permalink or a 404 (Page Not Found) error. Arbutus Farms Kitchen needed a website that could be easily used by their team on a daily basis, allowing them to keep up with an ever-changing selection of products, and give them room to grow as the brand evolves.
A Fresh Look
Caorda started by planning the structure and content for the new website. Arbutus Farms Kitchen was still offering the retail-ready and deli products they had become so well-known for but had also started selling brand new products under two new sub-brands: Arbutus Fresh Cut and Arbutus Seafood. The old site left no room to showcase these sub-brands, which are distinct in their offerings from the traditional Arbutus Farms Kitchen products. Caorda created a new website architecture and URL structure which would allow Arbutus Farms Kitchen to categorize its products under each sub-brand. Caorda’s website design team created a special and super-functional menu to showcase each logo within the navigation, helping to differentiate and strengthen recognition for each sub-brand.
Caorda worked with Arbutus Farms Kitchen to determine other areas in need of restructuring while identifying content on the old site that was looking outdated. A brand new ‘recipes’ section was the ideal place to start for Arbutus Farms Kitchen. Arbutus Farms Kitchen had been putting in lots of time and energy towards creating easy-to-follow and delicious recipes to post on their social media accounts but lacked a dedicated space on their website to do their recipes justice. Caorda designed a special section for recipes, ensuring each one would follow the same template. That way, it’s easy for staff to add new recipes on their own.
Using the right tools for the job
When it came to the website development, Caorda wanted to make sure the website was not only well-organized on the front end, but equally as easy-to-use and navigate from the backend. Since Arbutus Farms Kitchen needed to showcase products, there were a lot of options to consider when it came to the actual build. Would it make sense to use WooCommerce or just the existing WordPress post feature? Caorda decided in this case, it was optimal to provide Arbutus Farms Kitchen with exactly what they needed in the simplest (and most dynamic) way possible.
Caorda created different custom post types for recipes and products. We ensured each post was clearly labelled in the admin and contained only necessary fields to make sure posts were both uniform and easy-to-use for Arbutus Farms Kitchen staff.
Caorda also wanted to use this opportunity to make sure the new site would be more dynamic. That way, Arbutus Farms Kitchen would only need to add information to one location on the site where possible. For example, now adding a new retailer (to feature on the retailers’ page) will also add the retailer to a list in the “Products” posts, so it can be easily selected and featured on a product’s page. When adding a new product, you can also easily attach any related recipes by selecting them from a custom field as well. Each product page allows Arbutus Farms Kitchen to add standard information like a title, image and description but also has checkbox or dropdown fields for nutritional information, allergens, product type, available retailers, and related recipes. The best part? Each custom post type has only the essential fields and nothing extra, meaning Arbutus Farms Kitchen website administrators do not need to waste time determining which fields are required and which can be ignored when adding new products and recipes – it’s a super-individual, custom-built website solution to suit their needs.
Cleaning up the kitchen
Once the new site was completed and ready to launch, there was certainly some cleanup required to make sure the transition would be smooth. A lot of the old product URLs from the old website were actually using the wrong category or product titles, meaning our transition plan needed to be a little more thorough than usual! It was a fun matching game, making sure each of the original URLs and pages redirected to the correct new link on the website, especially since the old links didn’t necessarily reflect the content that was on each page. The site was also riddled with broken links sending people to 404 pages (super bad!) – it had not been easy to add and remove products without causing a link to break on the new site. Caorda tidied up all the broken links and ensured that permalinks would follow a more logical structure moving forward.
Arbutus Farms Kitchen is loving their new website. Post-launch, this project has quickly become one of the most heavily used and updated sites, which is what we love to see. The staff at Arbutus Farms Kitchen are already navigating the website admin with ease, adding tons of new products daily and changing up imagery and banners to suit seasonal or promotional needs. They are doing a fantastic job with the website, and the website is keeping up with their fast pace exactly as we had hoped.
Caorda is looking forward to continuing work with Arbutus Farms Kitchen as they keep on growing and expanding. We are so happy to have provided them with a great tool for their business, and we can’t wait to see them scale with the help of their new website!