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Rise and Shine: Caraway

J.D. Crabtree
May 8, 2020
eCommerce

Website: https://www.carawayhome.com/

Categories: eCommerce, Lifestyle, Consumer Goods, Kitchen

Year Founded: 2019

HQ: New York, New York

Founders: Jordan Nathan

Total Funding Amount: N/A

Alexa Ranking (Global, US): 236,253, 34,287

The Skinny: Kiss the cook(ware). No need to cook the books.

2017: One fine day founder Jordan Nathan accidentally left a teflon fry pan on a stove top for 45 minutes. He ended up feeling nauseous and sick from the fumes, and called the poison control hotline who told him he was likely exposed to Teflon poisoning. In response he started investigating and looking into why the materials he was cooking on were potentially dangerous.

2018: Fast-forward a year later and Jordan began developing the Caraway product and brand, working with the industrial design firm that developed Away luggage, and Garret And Elizabeth Office - the husband and wife duo from Harry's and Partners & Spade.

2019: After months of beta testing and prototypes, Caraway was launched on November 5th, 2019 for the holidays on their direct-to-consumer website.

Now: Today Caraway continues to focus on digital growth and has launched its second product - the linens collection. In conjunction the team is scaling to handle the increased demand and market opportunity.

Thoughtful design. Thoughtful leadership. And thoughtful growth. It is all one big melting pot over at Caraway.

We broke down this growing brand:

(jump to section)

Marketing Site

Content Strategy

Social Media

Toolkit

Performance

Product Lines

Brick and Mortar

Goals and Strategy

The Shine

Précis

Marketing Site

Caraway has a welcoming marketing site and clean aesthetic, in addition to several product shots and videos showing what could be your cookware set-up.

The marketing site copy and product descriptions have a comforting tone in order to educate and introduce new kitchen possibilities. Examples of wording across the site:
Well-done cookware is rare
A healthier way to cook
A thoughtful approach to cooking
Better for the planet. Designed for real life
From the Earth


They keep their site goal simple. They immediately share how they are introducing a safer option, then display you can look good while you’re at it. You can also stumble upon educational components such as how to care for and clean your cookware sets.

Then there are the product reviews:

Having hundreds of reviews with a 5 star rating is inspiring. Strong peer reviews are one of the strongest differentiators Caraway could have to continue to disrupt the cookware market.

Content Strategy

Caraway recently launched their first content play with the introduction of a blog. Content is becoming a critical growth channel for Direct-to-Consumer brands so we’re excited to see the growth here.

The Caraway blog takes a direct approach with the content either being about their products, or the safety brought to consumers from their products.A collection of titles from their first posts:

A Case For Clean Cookware: The Truth Behind Teflon

5 Ways To Store Your Caraway

These Linens Are Causing A Stir

How We’re Developing More Sustainable Cookware


Caraway has done an exceptional job on the PR and external exposure front with extensive coverage from publications such as Forbes, Vogue, and Refinery 29. When we asked Jordan about these efforts he explained that “core to our mission is helping to provide a safe alternative to cookware on the market that have toxic chemicals like PFAS, PFOA, PTFE, Lead and Cadmium. To really educate consumers on the dangers of the products in their home, we find storytelling to be the best avenue to do so, especially through third-parties (like press) that people trust.”

Social Media

Caraway already has a substantial following on the major social media platforms. Jordan elaborated on how social media is a key strategy:

“Like most digital brands, social is a big component to Caraway. Organic social provides us the opportunity to interact with our customers through a non-transactional medium. For Caraway, we want to provide education to consumers outside of just selling kitchenware. And in times like COVID, it is a great chance to bring joy to people's homes and help them get in the kitchen more. We also love working with influencers who we find are great ambassadors for sharing our brand story.”

Across all their feeds Caraway consistently shares educational and mouth watering content to keep those followers fed. One newer initiative we are fond of is their recipe and product shot combination:


Toolkit

Caraway is by all means a digitally native vertical brand (DNVB) in these early days, so picking the right tech is paramount. We dug into their site and discovered a top-tier technology stack:

Shopify

‍Shopify is a crowd favorite for small-to-medium shops. So there’s a long list on why Shopify makes sense for Caraway: eCommerce-focused, easy interface, quick installation, SEO management, scalable pricing, SSL, etc..

Klaviyo

Klaviyo is an email marketing tool built specifically for eCommerce stores, which means every feature released has this use-case in mind. The Klaviyo team cares deeply about transactional data, such as abandon cart and winback emails, unlike competitors that emphasize speed and open rates.

Hotjar

Hotjar is a tracking platform that reveals the online behavior and voice of a website’s users. By utilizing heatmap and feedback tools, Hotjar gives Caraway a way to improve a site's user experience and conversion rates.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics tool, allowing Caraway to use it for high-level, dashboard-type data.

Re:amaze

Re:amaze is a customer service platform designed for websites, stores, and apps. Jordan claims “it has been a great tool to connect with customers. On-site reviews is something we put a large emphasis into, as you can see on our product pages on the website. As an online brand, when consumers cannot touch or feel the product in person, reviews give customers the confidence they need to buy the product.”

Yotpo

Yotpo allows Caraway to collect, curate, manage, and respond to user-generated content from a single platform, which is an attractive offering during the early days.


Yotpo in action:


Google Ads

Google Ads are critical for eCommerce companies looking to get in front of buyers ready to instantly purchase (or research) a specific product. Caraway has campaigns running on “branded searches” in order to capture consumers searching by name.

Ads in action:

Facebook/Instagram Ads

Facebook’s Ad Suite is the ultimate B2C advertising playground since users are often sharing personal interests and tendencies. Caraway naturally has a wide market audience, so it makes sense to market to the platform with the largest audience..

Ads in action:

Afterpay

Afterpay is an online post payment service that offers eCommerce shoppers the payment method of open invoice with payment guarantee. AfterPay was one of the pioneers of the ‘buy now, pay later’ model more brands are beginning to offer..


Performance

A digital-first company calls for excellent digital performance. eCommerce teams have to handle the daunting balancing act of exhibiting dynamic images and videos of their product without sacrificing the website user experience. We analyzed several parts of the Caraway performance story:

Our top takeaways on Caraway's digital performance:

  • Caraway has benefited heavily from top domains (e.g. Forbes) linking to their site
  • Caraway is seeing a healthy, steady increase in domain authority since their launch
  • Caraway has a dynamic site for eCommerce standards with their amount of JavaScript on the page
  • Their keywords they rank highest for are branded (“caraway pots”), but they are creeping up the ladder in more generic terms (“cookware set”)
  • Their website load time is average, there is room for improvement

Product Lines

Caraway recently expanded their product line with the introduction of the Linens Set. When asked about the expansion Jordan stated that “we are called Caraway Home for a reason, and want to bring consumers safe, easy-to-use, and thoughtfully-designed products throughout their whole home, starting with the kitchen. While I can't specifically share what we have planned, we have a strong belief that upselling existing customers versus constantly acquiring new customers leads to sustainable growth.”

Brick and Mortar

For early eCommerce brands such as Caraway, moving into the physical retail space serves as a way to gain exposure, new customers and further insights into shopping behavior. And Jordan explained that “as we are only 6 months old, our current focus is on growing our existing channels. As we expand and mature, we are excited about the potential of brick & mortar. We feel that IRL experiences are a great opportunity for customers to try out and experience the quality of our product. 

So not yet. But when the time is right you will be able to walk right up to a Caraway product.


Goals and Strategy

Running an eCommerce startup is daunting. You must be an expert in many fields, at many points in the day, to deliver decisions for many people. We sat down with Jordan for a Q&A to better understand his thoughts on goal-setting and decision-making.

Q: What's your vision for Caraway?

A: Our goal is to create a modern day home brand focused on safe and easy-to-use products. We have a large vision of where we want to be in 5-10 years, but what is so exciting about the home space is that there is nearly an unlimited number of products that can be sold within the category. This opens us up to many interesting opportunites as we expand, but for now we are laser focused on our hero cookware set which is still very early in its growth trajectory.

Q: What are your goals for the business?

A: Currently, we are focused on finding product market fit and truly understanding who our customers are. As we are only 6mo. old, we put a large focus on processes and operational infrastructure at this stage so that the company is equipped to scale.

Q: What are the key metrics you focus on?

A: Like most early stage startups, revenue and growth are at the top of our core metrics, but we have also been focused on the bottom line since day one. We believe strongly in sustainable and efficient growth, and we continue to evaluate opportunities to cut costs in tandem with testing and growing our marketing mix. It is also important to us to evaluate in these early days what our customers want from us (and who they are) and how we can provide value outside of just our cookware - this customer connection and community is an integral piece to our business.

Q: What insights have you gained about your business over the last month, quarter, and/or year?

A: I think we as a brand underestimated the importance of the digital product when we first launched. Today our website looks very different than when we first launched, but we have found that every marketing dollar spent becomes so much more efficient the better your site converts. As a result, we have continued to invest more resources into our website and are making updates daily to it to improve its performance.

The Shine

PR, Awards, and Initiatives

The New Direct-to-Consumer Cookware Brands to Know (Vogue, 2019)

These Are the Prettiest Nonstick Pots and Pans I’ve Ever Cooked With (Food & Wine, 2020)

This Cookware Startup Goes Eco-Friendly And Plastic-Free (Forbes, 2019)

Caraway Home Co-founder Jordan Nathan Wants Us All to Cook Clean (Morning Brew, 2019)


Précis

We all know that in cookware legacy brands control too much of the market, and there is too little character and product loyalty. So in a space that can cater to almost any home and individual with a functioning kitchen, Caraway could be cooking up something special.

Caraway is already shaking up their niche by showing that you don’t have to break the bank or have hundreds of kitchen square footage to own a full, functional set of cookware. And with smart leadership and an already successful product line expansion, they are clearly on the right track..

What we are trying to say is don’t expect Caraway to be a flash in the pan.
Rise and Shine is a segment dedicated to emerging eCommerce brands. Profiled companies are selected by offering an impressive product, exhibiting creative marketing strategies, and utilizing a variety of technology and tools. Profiled companies may or may not be Yaguara customers.

Name: Caraway

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