Barbara Dolleschal said she cracked the digital marketing code for Zotter Chocolates, the Austrian-based business for which she serves as stateside general manager.
Dolleschal, who moved to Cape Coral with her husband Andreas “Andy” Dolleschal about a decade ago, had been receiving shipments of chocolate from Austria for about seven years at a 1,400-square-foot warehouse off Pine Island Road.
Entering this year, however, the increase in demand for the chocolate meant the need for more space. Zotter’s Cape Coral operations moved into the 2,800-square-foot corner of a warehouse building at 413 NE Van Loon Lane, Unit 117, about a mile from the former location.
“It started last year in September, before the hurricane,” she said of the growth in sales. “And this year, year to date, we’ve had like 310% growth in comparison to last year, and we’re not even in season. Our main season is Christmas, that’s October to December. So, it’s very exciting what’s going on right now.”
A circulating Facebook ad features an “irresistible offer,” in which three chocolate bars can be purchased for 50% off the regular price of $8.49 per bar, with free shipping. That’s a total of $19.90 instead of $38.46. Zotter is intensifying the advertising with Father’s Day weekend approaching.
Zotter Chocolates can be ordered at zotterusa.com.
“We get more people to try the chocolate for the first time,” she said, “and they just keep coming back.”
The warehouse is not used as a brick-and-mortar location to sell chocolate, but local customers can order it online and pick up the order at the warehouse to avoid paying for shipping. The warehouse is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays for pickups.
Hurricane Ian put a short-term dent in Zotter’s operations, as about 17,500 chocolate bars were ruined when the power went out at the old warehouse. The damage would have been worse had Barbara Dolleschal not canceled a planned shipment from Austria just before the storm hit.
“As soon as we had the power back, we were able to have chocolate back by the end of October,” Dolleschal said. “We had worries about losing the holiday season, but then in November, it skyrocketed. November was an amazing month.
“We kept doing the irresistible offer. Our main focus is e-commerce. We have customers nationwide.”
Zotter Chocolates markets itself as bean-to-bar chocolate, meaning the company sources its own cocoa beans at various farms across South America.
“So, we don’t buy chocolate from big companies,” Dolleschal said. “Everything is made from the chocolate bean to the chocolate bar. It’s 30 years of experience of chocolate making.”