Sitka Salmon Shares delivers premium, wild-caught Alaskan seafood from small-scale fishermen to home cooks across the United States. Members sign up for a monthly box of seafood delivered to their door during the fishing season, along with recipes and stories from the fishing grounds. Caught by fishermen using environmentally responsible methods, Sitka Salmon Shares’ seafood is quickly frozen for fresh-from-the-ocean flavor and is guaranteed to be the best seafood you’ve ever tried. Joe Barneson, CTO of Sitka Salmon Shares, says: “We're trying to set a new example for how fish are sourced. Profits are not the only bottom line for our company.”
But let’s talk about the catch, specifically how Sitka Salmon Shares ensures theirs is the highest quality. It starts with fishermen like Stu Weathers, Bridgette Reynolds, and a handful of others.
Sitka Salmon Shares partners with fishermen invested in a Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) model that prioritizes fishing in season and within the limits of what the ocean provides. These anglers often attend board meetings, own shares in the company, and are deeply involved and engaged. From boat to dock to the processing facilities where the fish are filleted and frozen, through their warehouse, distribution, and customer support, Sitka Salmon Shares manages the sourcing and selling process every step of the way to ensure the highest quality, most responsible catch.
"Our model helps create a more just system that values the hard work, high quality fish, and low-impact harvesting methods that help bring you some of the best protein on the planet."
When Marsh Skeele and Nicolaas Mink founded Sitka in 2011, they had a vision of bringing freshly caught seafood to Midwest markets. What they didn’t anticipate was a global pandemic driving increased demand for direct-to-consumer (D2C) food delivery leading to a substantial growth surge in 2020. Though the growth was a positive, they began to outpace the in-house solution they had developed to manage their seafood subscriptions.
Sitka Salmon Shares recognized an opportunity to build an experience that was not only intuitive to the general consumer audience but also more reliable. Their backorder system, scheduling, and billing process had experienced issues that often required an overload of manual customer support time. In March and April of 2020, their support queues were three times larger than usual. During this time it was all hands on deck to ensure new members were brought up to speed and existing members were satisfied.
There was also a growing need to empower their member service teams who managed member subscriptions on the backend while adding functionality that would make it easier to convert excess inventory into valuable upsell offers and improve operational efficiency. With a growing list of pain points and exciting growth opportunities, Sitka Salmon Shares required a scalable commerce solution that could handle the complexities of their unique subscription model while offering optionality for the future. They began seeking a best-in-breed solution to support an ambitious go-to market strategy.
Already using Bold’s robust Checkout to optimize their transaction experience, Sitka Salmon Shares thoroughly evaluated other subscription platforms and came to the conclusion that Bold Subscriptions was the right fit. Not only did it integrate seamlessly with their checkout, it gave them the flexibility to solve for their complex business needs with speed-to-market and cost efficiency, while improving their customer experience.
"For me, the biggest differentiator with Bold was how they modeled subscriptions, and the way their solution interacted with other applications. It felt very well organized."
Sitka Salmon Shares had tens of thousands of existing members that needed to be migrated to their new system, the majority of which were unaware of the internal challenges the company was facing. Bold played an integral role in ensuring customer migration was smooth and seamless. Sitka Salmon Shares retained the majority of their existing members, which helped the company maintain the high retention rate that had been a key driver of their success.
"We had a very messy data model that required a lot of digging through, and Bold did a great job of helping us with that. Overall, the large migration went very smoothly."
With any subscription program, enabling customers to customize and manage their purchase is key to customer retention. Building an ongoing relationship with subscribers comes through transparency and agility. With only minor customizations needed to Bold’s out-of-the-box customer manager subscription page, Sitka Salmon Shares gained the ability to offer their members more control and flexibility over their purchases and payments. Overall Bold Subscriptions allowed Sitka Salmon Shares to offer a much more intuitive and reliable member experience.
On the member service side, Sitka Salmon Shares’ reps were enabled with key backend functionality to edit quantities, add one-time products, upgrade orders, swap different items, adjust shipping dates, and fulfill orders quickly and efficiently, without the backorder or scheduling errors they had experienced before. They also gained the flexibility to product swap, enabling them to sell excess from their catch through upselling and cross selling offers — an exciting growth opportunity they are looking forward to integrating in the near future.
"One by-product of using Bold Subscriptions has been that as orders come in, we are fulfilling them within a week and a half…whereas before we had a backorder for the entire nine months, and our shipping schedule was sometimes off by up to a month. Now we have a much more fluid and intuitive member experience. Members see the charges on their credit cards, receive notifications via email on their orders, and then, in no time, their seafood arrives."
A recurrence rule (RRULE) defines the repeat pattern or rule for events, allowing users to define the occurrence of almost any event. The way that Bold Subscriptions integrated RRules was a key differentiator for Sitka Salmon Shares in choosing Bold over other subscriptions platforms. The ability to sell subscriptions ahead of time and outside of the fishing season, such as during their wildly successful October opt-in campaign, ensured the first order would not get shipped until the start of shipping season and following orders would adhere to this logic.
"The capability that really solidified Bold as the right choice was their RRULE capabilities. Where other subscription services were going to require us to bend business logic to fit their model, Bold offered a flexible approach that was intuitive to our members and model."
Before Bold Subscriptions, Sitka Salmon Shares managed all failed credit card payments manually. The process was inefficient and time consuming for their member support team. Bold Subscriptions has allowed them to integrate an automated dunning process and achieve an average credit card recovery rate of 75%. Streamlining this process has also saved them up to four days in customer support time.
"With automated dunning management our average recovery rate is about 75%. It has not only saved us time, but made it easier to run the business. We also expect to see an overall reduction in churn rate going forward."
The successful implementation of Bold Subscriptions has saved Sitka Salmon Shares both time and money, positioning them to optimize their member experience while exploring exciting growth opportunities for their subscriptions offerings. Only weeks after launching with Bold Subscriptions, the leading boat-to-doorstep seafood brand already saw significant improvements to member experience and operational efficiency.
In the near term, Sitka Salmon Shares will leverage Bold Subscription’s capabilities to continue to grow revenue while deepening customer loyalty with existing subscribers by offering:
Leveraging the power and customizability of the Bold Checkout Experience Suite has set up Sitka Salmon Shares to continue to scale with ease. With a renewed focus on innovation and operational efficiency and a knowledgeable subscriptions partner, they are well positioned to enhance the value of their subscription offering for members while growing predictable recurring revenue, and scaling the brand from one port to the next.
"Bold has proven to be a partner that really cares about our success. From helping to get us onboarded to listening to our feedback and addressing challenges that were very unique to our business with a smile on their face, they continue to be a partner that is invested in our outcome."