Ba Le Deli & Bakery eCommerce Web: An Interview with Advesa’s Project Manager, Fiona Leung

A cornerstone of the Vancouver Vietnamese community, Ba Le Deli & Bakery has been serving Vancouver since 1987. Built on layers of family-taught traditions, the delicatessen is still family-owned and operated and is famous for its fresh in-house made baguettes and delicious bánh mì. 

As a locally-owned, family-run business, we were honoured when Ba Le’s owner, Teresa Tran chose us to help them revitalize their website. At the time, COVID-19 restrictions had a heavy impact on the food and restaurant industry within the city. Indoor dining was suspended, forcing restauranteers to offer take-out and delivery services, instead. 

As businesses rushed to start adapting to COVID-19, we worked with Ba Le Deli & Bakery to integrate full eCommerce functionality onto their site and connected them with a Vancouver-based, transparently priced courier service to help them connect to more hungry customers. 

Today, we had the opportunity to sit down with Advesa Digital’s Project Manager Fiona Leung to talk about some of the challenges and opportunities of the project and her perspective on how the project went.

Thanks for sitting down with us, Fiona. Ba Le Deli & Bakery was a big project for Advesa Digital. Can you speak to some of the pain points and challenges that you encountered while executing this project?

Thanks, Vincent. Ba Le was definitely a big project, not only in scope, but also as an opportunity for Advesa to show how our eCommerce solutions can help local businesses thrive. This made the project extremely exciting and rewarding, especially in the wake of Covid-19.

As a well-known franchise for many years, Ba Le expanded their business operations to include wholesale and local deliveries in addition to their in-store, direct-to-consumer sales. 

Surprisingly enough, they never had a website to support any of these operations, let alone display their menu items! So a lot of planning with the client went beyond identifying basic aesthetics. Instead, emphasis was placed on the intricacies of features & functions that can streamline their many operations on a single platform – from online ordering and delivery to wholesale orders and inventory management.

Fiona Leung Project Manager

 Today’s customers don’t just want fast delivery, they expect it. Here are 3 Reasons Your Store Needs Same Day Delivery & How to Implement It.”

Ba Le Deli is an institution in the Vancouver Vietnamese community. What was it like working for a local business? Did you view this project differently than say, a project from an international client?
Pictured: Ba Le Deli's Teresa Tran learning how to bake baguettes in France. (Courtesy of Ba Le Deli & Bakery)

Being born and raised in Vancouver myself, Ba Le has long been a staple in the city’s foodie scene, serving the community since 1987. Growing up eating their Vietnamese sandwiches and then having the opportunity to create their very first website was a very special moment.

The food sector is very visual and places a heavy emphasis on the appearance of its menu offerings. What was the thought process behind your vision and how did it differ from other B2C & B2B businesses?
bal le bahn mi

I think that the success of a project involves satisfying the client’s needs but also offering our expertise to guide them in the right direction, whether that’s in design or business strategy. With Ba Le, I had the pleasure of working with Teresa Tran, one of the daughters that has taken on the family business. She had a specific visual direction for the site – clean, minimal, modern and bright.

"There was a sentiment and pride that came with supporting their family-owned brand not only as a lifelong customer but also as a business partner. "

Collaborating with Teresa, our team was able to provide her with a responsive eCommerce site that was friendly and approachable which tied into their brand theme. More distinctly, it functioned as a central hub for viewing menu items, ordering for pickup or delivery, inquiring about wholesale prices and viewing seasonal promotions. In addition, we ensured it was dynamic enough to have a modern touch yet easily accessible for customers to navigate around.

What did you enjoy the most about this project?

This was our first full scale eCommerce project for Asian snack food which is exciting in itself – who doesn’t like being involved in something scrumptious (Fiona chuckles)

In all seriousness, because the website also involved the integration of our partner POS system, Breadstack, and courier service, Cantec Couriers, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of talent – from copywriters to UX/UI designers, developers, CS managers, CTOs and fellow project managers that specializes in CRM software. We gained invaluable learning opportunities from challenges and felt a collective sense of accomplishment when we finally delivered something of tremendous business value to a staple in the Vancouver foodie community. 

Is there anything that you would have done differently? 

There’s always room for improvement when it comes to project management, especially when faced with triple constraints of balancing time, budget and quality. 

Our team often works in a predictive model where client requirements are planned upfront and unchanged throughout the project. Although we were able to complete a website of quality and at a scale that could support all their daily operations, there were many threats to the budget and schedule such as last minute requests to add in a few “bells & whistles.” 

"Many smaller to medium sized restaurants are capitalizing on pandemic-induced eCommerce opportunities due to persistent barriers. They’re realizing the need for delivery and online sales in a digitally accelerated space. "

As a valued client, we wanted to go above and beyond so we were quick to approve these additions but in hindsight, I would have considered the implications to the budget and schedule in more depth no matter how easily implemented it may be. 

Nonetheless, the website was delivered without much deviation from the original plan and the client was very pleased with the final outcome. This project was surely a fabulous learning curve.  

Are there any digital trends you see emerging in the food industry or would like to see?

Many smaller to medium sized restaurants are capitalizing on pandemic-induced eCommerce opportunities due to persistent barriers. 

They’re realizing the need for delivery and online sales in a digitally accelerated space. Thus, I think we’ll continue seeing a shift to a more holistic approach to eCommerce – direct sales from websites and social media plus integration of POS and cost-effective third party courier services.

It’ll all be about creating an eCommerce ecosystem backed by powerful consumer analytics. This will empower restaurant owners to provide tailored recommendations to ongoing customers and identify ways to strategically upsell. 

The need for businesses to have eCommerce functionality and fast delivery are just a few pandemic trends that are bound to stay even after we return to normal. Learn more in Post-Pandemic eCommerce Trends that are Here to Stay.”

Thank you for your time, Fiona. Is there anything else you’d like to say to about the Ba Le Deli & Bakery project?

Thanks Vince for providing me the opportunity to reflect on a milestone project for Advesa. For those that live in Vancouver or are visiting and haven’t tried a banh mi sandwich from Ba Le, you’re missing out!
Check out their selection here!

Written By Vincent Lee

The Managing Editor at Advesa, Vincent is a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, a lover of cats, and a purveyor of fine roasted matcha teas. When not writing, he enjoys exercising and biking around his beautiful hometown of Vancouver. He is also a strong supporter of the oxford comma.