As we reach a mini-milestone of 5,000 icing print designs in our UK business CakeMyFace, we wanted to share some of our personal experiences and edible printing learnings since we started out. I hope this helps you in your journey, whether you are a cake decorator just starting out, or a seasoned printing pro.
Experiment with everything
In the early days we tested regularly with different suppliers of edible printing equipment, and we still do today. Suppliers source sheets and inks from a range of manufacturers, and some can be better than others. In one case for us the colours in our edible inks were so off that we had to switch mid ink tank! Keep trying and testing your equipment and processes – it will pay off in the long run for your customers.
Be flexible (and have a backup plan!)
If something can go wrong, it probably will. Broken printer, faulty icing prints, website down (yes we’ve had all of them, fortunately not all at the same time!). And although there are tips to help reduce some of these problems, it’s always worth thinking of your Plan B. For instance an extra printer, backup icing sheets, or even getting in touch with another reliable edible ink printer owner can go a long way…
Customer service can make or break your business
It’s amazing how a bit of good old customer service helps build your business. Weirdly, the customers we’ve made rare mistakes with are some of our most loyal customers now as a result of our customer service! Now I’m not advocating making mistakes, but it’s shown us that as long as you are quick to respond, keep them updated and take action on any enquiries or complaints, you’ll win the customer around. It also helps that we’ve got an awesome member of the team, Leeza, who helps run the business and is amazing with our customers!
Keep it simple
Some things aren’t easy. Let’s take icing sheets- sometimes a pain to remove from the backing right? There are a lot of variables, whether it’s humidity, icing thickness, cut. But if you’re distributing these to customers, you need to find an easy way to explain it. In our business we have found that sending out a simple ‘How to’ sheet with every order ensures our customers have all the information about storage and application at their finger tips – see below. It’s not perfect (refer to point 1!), but we found the customer valued having a very simple set of instructions rather than a 5 page manual…
Give the customer the power – they’ll love you for it
When we started out developing the first online icing designer for our customers in 2012 (which has now evolved into our Topperoo icing software), we knew it would save a lot of time for the business. What we didn’t appreciate was the insatiable appetite from customers to create their own designs. The works of art that come out of our printer still astound us, and it’s not something we could have created ourselves. What power can you give to your customers?
Be patient, and you’ll grow to love it
Whether you’re using edible printing to complement your cake / cookie decorating, or as a standalone business, it takes time to get used to it. It can be frustrating at times. But it’s ultimately very rewarding to know that you’re contributing to someone’s special celebration, and helping to bring a bit of ‘wow’ to the occasion. (And if you get stuck, we’ll be here to support you!)
Don’t be afraid of speaking to your counterparts who also work with icing prints. They’ll no doubt be experiencing many of the same ups and downs as you. The edible printing industry is still relatively young – we all need to help each other to grow it… here’s a good place to start!
What have you learnt from working with edible ink printing? We’d love to hear in the comments below.