When you walk into a Kettlemans Bagel, the first thing you’ll notice is a staff member hand rolling dough into bagels. Then you’ll spot the large wood-burning oven where each bagel — pre-boiled in honey water — bakes for approximately 20 minutes before being tossed in seasonings. When an order of bagels is served, they’ll still be warm to the touch if you time it just right.
Since 1993, Kettlemans Bagel has sold its traditional Montreal bagels, spreads and sandwiches to generations of guests. With three stores in Ottawa, ON and one in Toronto, ON, it makes approximately 9,000 bagels every day of the year. For many loyal guests, their week isn’t complete without a stop at Kettlemans Bagel for brunch or to take home a dozen or more bagels.
It’s why Craig Buckley, Founder and CEO of Kettlemans Bagel, and Amer Wahab, President and COO, began exploring the idea of a bagel subscription.
"Our guests have said they would love to get bagels delivered to their doorstep on a weekly basis."
When the pandemic hit, some guests were not comfortable with curbside pickup. Buckley knew it was time to launch the subscription to delight their loyal community with more ways to get their favorite bagels.
Guest experience is paramount at Kettlemans Bagel. “With a subscription, we’re coming to your home. We don’t want it to feel like a regular delivery being thrown at your door,” says Wahab. “We want to make sure our guests have the same experience at their doorstep as they do inside our stores.”
Buckley and Wahab struggled to find the right family of subscription partners to meet the exacting standards set for their memorable restaurant experience.
That’s when Buckley’s phone rang. It was Alok Ahuja, CEO & Co-Founder of Trexity, a rapid delivery service with a network of drivers in Ottawa and Toronto. “What set Trexity apart from the competitors was their driver network. Not to mention the fact that their drivers are courteous and professional,” says Buckley.
With Trexity, Kettlemans Bagel is able to ensure oven-to-door delivery faster than Amazon, and with better guest experience. Trexity allows both Kettlemans Bagel and their subscription customers to track their deliveries in real time.
For Ahuja, a subscription offering was a clear opportunity for Kettlemans Bagel.
"A subscription service offers customers what they love at their doorstep. It gives merchants recurring revenue and a way to build a whole new side of their business. Kettlemans Bagel moves with the speed of customers and thrives on change — it’s an ideal fit."
With a delivery partner in place, all Kettlemans Bagel needed was a subscription platform. Ahuja had the perfect partner in mind: Bold Subscriptions.
"I always suggest Bold as a subscription app due to its ease of use, simple integration and transparency that it offers to brands who are looking to diversify their commerce offering. Bolting on a subscription service to any brick and mortar risks pulling leaders away from their daily business. In order for brands to be successful, their subscription platform must be very simple to understand and operate. Bold Subscriptions wins here hands down,” says Ahuja.
After an afternoon planning session, Buckley and Wahab mapped out the subscription offering and a goal to launch in less than 90 days. The Kettlemans Bagel subscription offers guests their choice of either sesame seed or everything bagels by the dozen as well as how frequently to have them delivered — weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
Then Daniel Reyes Cocka, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Alexandra Plante, Communications Manager, stepped in to make the plan a reality by adding the Bold Subscriptions app and Trexity app to their commerce platform.
“With Bold Subscriptions, we knew we could turn the project around quickly and efficiently. Plus, the Bold team was willing to jump on a call whenever necessary. The support team has been a really great help during set up and launch,” says Reyes Cocka.
When launch day arrived, subscription orders immediately started rolling in.
"The response has been outstanding. The best reaction I’ve heard from a lot of our subscribers is ‘I can’t believe they are still warm. It’s like I went to the store!”. When we’re able to bring people such joy and convenience it is an incredible feeling for us."
For the Kettlemans Bagel team, fulfilling subscription orders is now a typical part of their Tuesday work routine. Each week, Bold Subscriptions orders are added to the Trexity platform where it optimizes delivery routes, prints shipping labels, and identifies drivers.
When the bagels are packed and labelled, Trexity drivers are notified and arrive for delivery in less than 30 minutes. Labels are scanned to provide real-time tracking for both the Kettlemans Bagel team and subscribers in the Trexity platform and app. By the evening customers have freshly made, warm bagels in their hands.
For Plante, the Bold Subscriptions platform is straightforward and easy to use.
"The dashboard is not overly complicated and is easy to train other employees on. It also provides us with important KPIs that we’re using to measure the program on an ongoing basis."
Reyes Cocka appreciates that the subscription program is not an entirely separate operation to manage. Instead, with Bold Subscriptions and Trexity, executing the orders has easily been added into existing restaurant workflows and business processes.
With Bold Subscriptions and Trexity, Kettlemans Bagel seamlessly enables guest loyalty. “These are the behind-the-scenes technologies that power loyalty. A customer shouldn’t have to make a decision to be loyal. We help brands take their loyal customers and automate that,” says Trexity’s Ahuja.
The Kettlemans Bagel team believes deeply in the power and value of local communities — be that guests or a family of technology partners — and see their subscription as an example of local loving local. “We are championing each other’s success and growth,” says Wahab.
The next step for the subscription program is to expand fulfillment into their other locations as demand increases. “We’re watching the growth numbers, the frequency of subscriptions and the geographic location of our subscribers to assess when we will allocate delivery from more stores,” says Reyes Cocka. “This will increase operational efficiency both for us and Trexity.”
In addition, Reyes Cocka is exploring incorporating the ability to subscribe into their app and to purchase a subscription as a gift for a loved one. “It’s so thrilling to watch our guests get excited about this new and modern offering from our classic brand,” he says.
As subscriptions keep growing, Buckely is focused on the positive impact to his business.
"Bold Subscriptions and Trexity are allowing us the opportunity to build a new revenue stream for the company and bring our products to guests in new and innovative ways."
For other brands considering a subscription program, Wahab recommends taking time to plan the offering. “Think through what the program will be, the offering, the experience, the logistics and how to fulfill all of that. Do what you’re good at. Start smaller, then expand. You crawl to walk and walk to run,” he says.
When reflecting on the challenge of delivering a mouthwatering oven-to-doorstep subscription experience, Reyes Cocka on the other hand, offers this more direct advice: “Work with the right partners.”
Alok Ahuja founded Trexity in 2019 after he tried getting medication for his father delivered on the same day from a local pharmacy. “I called Canada Post, CanPar and others. No one was able to help me. For $70, the pharmacy could deliver it the next day,” he recalls.
He knew both shoppers and businesses needed better — so he built it.
Today, Trexity offers same-day, local delivery with a fleet of drivers and a tech platform that allows for real-time tracking for merchants and customers.
“I want merchants to have the opportunity to compete with Amazon and win. Companies and merchants didn’t have the means to do it, but with Trexity they can. They can now create new shopping habits within their customers,” he says.
The last mile of delivery remains a challenge for businesses of all sizes. In fact, more than 61% of logistics companies say the last-mile is the most inefficient part of the entire supply chain, according to a recent survey from SOTI Inc.
With Trexity, merchants can offer same-day delivery and choose how much of the shipping cost is covered by the customer. Customers can pay the entire shipping cost, or a flat rate where merchants cover the remainder of the cost or set customized prices.
As delivery orders increase for merchants, they can use the platform to bundle deliveries and optimize routes, which speeds up delivery time for customers and reduces costs for the merchant.
Every delivery can be watched in real-time by the merchant or customer and confirmations are sent when orders reach their destinations.
“We give merchants the ability to own their customers’ door steps again. Why does the box your products get delivered in not have your logo on it?” says Ahuja.
For Trexity, subscriptions have been a source of growth, particularly for time-sensitive items like food, perishable goods, and flowers. “Customers know what they like and are loyal to brands they love. Subscriptions give people something they love, at their doorstep, consistently. When a brand opens their thinking to a subscription, they start to notice all the things people want delivered,” he says. Trexity’s drivers deliver subscriptions for bagels, cheese, wine, a high end decallitessian and more.
Trexity is rapidly expanding in Ottawa and Toronto with plans to launch in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. “Our goal is to uplift local communities by bringing the brick and mortar stores that line people’s favorite streets right to their doorstep,” he says.