Tapper 2009-07-24 07:26:07
I had a client cancel an order for 85 carrot cakes (thank goodness for
deposits$$$!), so they are now sitting in freezer storage looking for a
home. I’d like to offer them online but I’ve never shipped cakes, I always
deliver. Does anyone have experience shipping frosted cakes? I’d like
suggestions for packaging etc. I can ship them frozen but do mail carriers
actually pay attention to “This End Up”?
Thanks in advance
D.currie 2009-07-24 07:26:17
If you want to ship it frozen and have it arrive frozen, it’s going to be
pretty costly. Shipping will probably have to be next day air. Then you need
packaging that will stand up to shipment and be insulated enough to hold in
the cold and handle the dry ice you’re probably going to want to use.
Styrofoam coolers work well for that sort of thing. Even with all of that,
there’s a good chance the frosting will thaw, so you’re going to need to
figure out some way to package it so that the frosting will still be okay
when it’s unwrapped, no matter which way the box is tipped.
As far as “this side up,” I wouldn’t bet on it.
Unless your cakes are world-class famous, you may have some problems getting
people to pay enough to cover shipping. The other alternative would be to
design some sort of packaging that would protect the frosting so that even
when it’s thawed, it will look good on arrival.
But if you don’t go with the insulated packaging and next-day shipping, are
these cakes going to be able to withstand whatever temperature fluctuations
they endure? There could be a couple cycles of freezing and thawing and
warmer temps in warehouses, trucks, etc. on the delivery route. If they
weren’t frosted, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but if customers get
cakes with the frosting all mushed up and they’ve paid a lot for the cake
and shipping, they aren’t going to be all that happy.
You might want to consider a local sale or maybe a donation to some good
cause and just reap the good publicity you get from that.
Deepeddygirl 2009-07-24 07:26:20
D.Currie makes some good points. You might want to approach your
favorite restaurant or bakery and see if they would buy them from you.
Vox humana 2009-07-24 07:26:26
Or, donate them to a homeless shelter, orphanage, school, or some other
charitable organization and take a write-off.
Tapper 2009-07-24 07:26:38
I already donate food and other goods. I don’t throw out leftover
materials or extra items, they go to the local Boy’s and Girl’s Club or
shelters etc. However, I am down about $400 on this batch. If I want to
give a $400 donation to a local charity I’ll just do it, regardless of
having extra cakes in storage. In December I provided free pastries for 3
charity events, and that’s plenty for now. I need to recoup some dough and
I don’t need another write-off.
I’d really like to figure out a way sell them (and if they go then I’ll have
system to sell them online). I am not concerned about having it arrive
frozen. I have a good source for cheap ($2-3) insulated shippers, but I am
interested in knowing if anyone has shipped iced cakes. My shipping cost
can be around $10, but that depends on the method I have to use to protect
A couple of local restaurants use our carrot cakes, but they don’t buy them
in this size. I have 6″ and 8″ rounds, not what these folks want. Also,
one of the restaurants buys crappy cakes at BJs (wholesale club) for maybe
$1 a slice and sells them as desserts for $5.95; they buy our cakes for
themselves and for catered events.
And, yes, they are world-class! All natural, no preservatives or fillers,
dense and rich and heavy. But still can go Priority mail for $7.70, so
shipping won’t be bad at all. Freezing and thawing don’t impact the
quality (too much oil in there to be ruined). My only problem is mailing
them once they’re iced. Even if they’re frozen there would be some thaw
during transport, so I have to keep the walls away from the surface.
Thanks for the suggestions, though.
D.currie 2009-07-24 07:27:13
If you want to start selling online, it might be worth looking into some
specialized packaging for frosted cakes, but you’re starting with the hard
way as far as shipping is concerned. Unfrosted would be easier, but
unfortunately, that’s not what you’ve got now.
If you really want to protect that frosting, the only way that’s going to
happen is if the cakes stay frozen. Otherwise, the frosting is going to
stick to whatever it touches and by the time it gets to its destination,
especially with something like priority mail, it’s going to look like
roadkill. Not to mention that the cake itself is going to take some bouncing
and could get destroyed in the process. Another reason why fully frozen is a
The other option is to have the whole thing wrapped in plastic and explain
to customers that they’re going to have to scrape some of the frosting off
of the plastic and refrost the cake. Then you just need to package the cake
so that it will withstand being dropped and bounced and juggled while it is
being shipped. I guess you’re better off with a denser cake than if it was
something fluffy or crumbly.
A third option would be to experiment a bit with different plastic wraps or
whatever, and see if you can come up with something so that the customer can
re-freeze the cake and then peel the plastic off of the frozen frosting. And
explain to them that if they peel it off while it’s thawed, it’s their
As far as your cakes being world-class, I wasn’t suggesting that they
weren’t, just that online customers who don’t know your products first-hand
will have to believe that in order to be willing to pay the price for the
cake and shipping. Me, personally, I’d have to be really convinced that a
cake was unbelievable to pay for the cake plus the maybe $10 shipping on top
of it. And after paying that money, I’d expect that the cake arrive in
pristine condition. I’d be darned skeptical of the quality if I thought it
was in shipping for 3 days, in the hands of the post office. While it may be
true that multiple freezes and thaws won’t ruin the cake, a customer may not
find that acceptable.
And I’d suggest you look into FedEx for shipping. From my experience,
they’re much gentler with handling than either the mail service or UPS. And
consider next-day shipping. While next-day shipping may not be necessary in
your mind, a customer might think otherwise. They may be willing to pay a
little more to get the cake right away, frozen, and in good condition,
rather than pay a little less and get a cake that’s been bounced around in
the mail system for three or four days.
Vox humana 2009-07-24 07:27:16
In light of what you have said, I would also add that you can count on some
people wanting their money back. I don’t know how many, but sure as h*** if
the cake doesn’t arrive in perfect condition, someone will want a refund of
the total price. Assuming that they will be paying by credit card, there is
a good chance that they will dispute the charges and tie-up the money.
If we were talking about thousands of cakes, it would be one thing. But for
85 small cakes it might be worth offing a discount to the restaurants who
are already customers. I would approach them and say “I have 85 carrot
cakes. They are smaller than what you normally order. I will give you a
nice discount for being a good customer and to compensate you for the
inconvenience of buying the smaller cakes.” That would be a win-win
situation. You would unload the cakes without having to do any advertising,
research packaging, or taking any risks. The customer would get your
“world-class” cakes at a discount. If you make the discount equal to the
deposit that you kept from the original customer you are out nothing.
D.currie 2009-07-24 07:27:24
Every time I wander past this topic, I go back to the idea of what I’d be
willing to buy (food-wise) online, how much I’d be willing to pay, and what
condition I’d want it in.
While the cakes may be perfectly edible after 3-5 days in the US mail, would
I buy a perishable food item that made that trip? No, I wouldn’t. No matter
if it’s just fine in the shippers’ opinion, I’d be thinking that I’m buying
a 3-5 day old bakery product that’s been in who knows what conditions for
those 3-5 days. It’s just not appealing, and I’d bake a cake or buy one
locally before I paid a premium to buy a cake like that online. Even if
someone sent it to me as a gift, I’d be skeptical if it came in any
condition besides frozen solid and looking like it had been that way from
Note that I’m not disagreeing that the cake would be edible, but perception
is everything, and if the cake looks dented or damaged, or the customer
thinks too much about what the post office did to the cake in the interim,
that customer isn’t going to be pleased. And then they’re going to want a
refund on the cake and shipping.
On the other hand, if there was something that I couldn’t get locally that I
really craved, I’d be willing to pay the cost for packaging and next-day
shipping to get the product to me in the best condition possible. So the
question is whether the OP can make the product so appealing that strangers
online are going to want to buy the cakes and pay the premium.
If the OP really wants to get into online selling, there are probably easier
things to start with, like unfrosted products that could be shipped in a
tin, and particularly ones that are thought to be best after a little aging,
like fruit cakes or rum cakes or similar products.
I agree that some discounted special local sale is a much better idea,
Vox humana 2009-07-24 07:27:27
original customer you are out nothing.
I see food being sold periodically on QVC and HSN. It is generally
cheesecake, cookies, candy, caramel apples, or a sturdy pie. I can’t recall
ever seeing a frosted cake being sold. I do know that people ship cakes
covered with rolled fondant. Still, when I look at the price of the cakes
and the shipping, I just shake my head. For instance, QVC sells Junior’s
cheesecake for about $40 each, including shipping. I have the Junior’s
cookbook and can make the same cheesecake for about $6. Cheesecake isn’t
hard to make, so its not like I am paying for some extraordinary level of
skill if I buy one of their cakes. As a side note, I used to make
cheesecakes and send them home with my partner when he would visit his
family. I have always received compliment on my cheesecakes and thought
that they made nice gifts. One time when his mother was visiting we were at
a restaurant. My partner pointed out the cheesecake on the dessert menu.
His mother blurted out with hesitation that she “wouldn’t go out of her way”
for a piece of cheesecake. You could have heard a pin drop. Needless to
say, that was the end of that. I had baked a carrot cake and some cinnamon
rolls while she was visiting. One day during dinner I had some squash that
was seasoned with cinnamon. She exclaimed that cinnamon gave her heart
burn! It was another uncomfortable moment. Ironically, the next time he
returned from a visit with his mother, I asked what they had for dessert.
He told me that his mother had ordered a Junior’s cheesecake from QVC!!! I
Kings crown 2009-07-25 11:38:43
Oh that’s too funny. Sometimes you just can’t win. My father is the same
In October I asked for my family to meet at a Mexican restaurant that
parents rave about for my birthday. My dad says he loves the place, because
they serve black beans and they are his all time favorite bean. That he’s
loved them all his life. I have never had a black bean one while I was
growing up. I have no clue where this love of black beans came from, but
who cares I took note. During the New Years weekend I was staying at my
folks house and made a delicious black bean soup for lunch. My dad asks
what else is for lunch. Huh.. what… why do you ask? He tells me he
doesn’t like black beans, because they give him really bad gas. 7 family
members all look at me while spooning soup into their mouths… like they
are waiting for the top of my head to blow off. I just shook my head and
pointed him towards some leftover ham. I just can’t win sometimes.
Vox humana 2009-07-25 11:38:56
Well, I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone.
Tapper 2009-07-25 11:38:58
Ha! Well, I used to go to school near the original Junior’s, and those
cheesecakes cost close to $40 there! The big ones are certainly over $30.
And the fruit ones are pretty messy… maybe I’ll order 1 from them and see
how it comes.
Thanks for all the suggestions, all!
D.currie 2009-07-25 11:39:14
Not quite the same, but when I invited my in-laws over for dinner, they
asked what was being served. They’re picky eaters, although they’d never
admit it. I said we were having Italian food, and the reply was that they
don’t like Italian. I said that I had been planning on lasagna, but I could
come up with something else instead. MIL said, “Oh, we like lasagna, we just
don’t like Italian food.” I’m still trying to figure that out.