Next generation moving Maryland seafood retailer online
After 32 years of focusing solely on retail and wholesale operations, Rockville, Maryland, U.S.A.-based Cameron’s Seafood’s recent addition of an online shop has been a booming success.
In fact, Cameron’s, which produces around USD 20 million (EUR 16.8 million) in sales annually from 17 retail locations across Maryland and Pennsylvania – along with its wholesale operation – plans to further expand its online presence.
After a year of development, the younger generation of the Manesh family, which owns the business, officially launched the online store in late June.
"Much like Blue Apron, we are providing fresh seafood, recipes, outstanding customer service and will be expanding our capacity to overtake our retail locations," said co-founder Cameron Manesh, who is spearheading the online store, along with Peymon Manesh.
Similar to Cameron’s physical retail locations, the online store features bushels of crabs, lobsters, a variety of fresh fish and shellfish, and numerous prepared items such as Maryland crab cakes and crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp.
"What we are really selling is an experience. I want our customers to experience that special feeling from my childhood memories of sharing Maryland seafood with family and friends. It's a delicious social food that's perfect for large gatherings such as dinners, barbecues, parties, and gifts,” Manesh said.
The company, which already sells 75,000 bushels of crab annually in its brick-and-mortar stores, aims to differentiate itself from a host of other online seafood sellers with a “lowest price guarantee,” excellent customer service and recipes – as well as a meal kit component in the near future.
“Based on what Blue Apron has been able to do, we are going to start supplying ingredients and recipes. You will get all the seafood ingredients to use, along with recipes created by customers who take part in our recipe contests.”
The online store offers free shipping on local and regional orders over USD 100 (EUR 84.13). Cameron’s retail staff packs the online orders in frozen gel packs, and then FedEx picks up the packages for shipping all over the United States twice daily. Nearly all deliveries are guaranteed within 24 hours.
“Everything that we sell is fresh. We catch the crab, de-meat the crab, and send it out that day,” Manesh said.
After a little more than two months in business, the fact that the start-up has already received a hefty number of orders – more than 600 – has Cameron’s Seafood executives considering expansion plans already.
“Right now, we are piggybacking on our retail locations [for order fulfillment], but next year, we will be opening up our own warehouse in Maryland,” Manesh said.
The company is looking for a 10,000-square-feet facility outside of Rockville.
“When we get our own place, we will hire anyone from chefs to employees from seafood markets,” Manesh said.
Plus, Cameron’s will need to ramp up employees in the online business soon. Currently, four full-time and four part-time employees are devoted to internet orders. Next, the company will hire a full-time person to handle live chat online, as well as employees to fulfill orders.
While the company has achieved success with zero paid marketing to date, Cameron’s will soon launch a marketing campaign aimed at converting many of its one million in-store customers to also shop on its website.