Thorntons Chocolates Have Been a Tradition for Over a Century
Thorntons is a chocolate maker and retailer with its company headquarters in Summercotes in Derbyshire. The company runs 249 shops in the UK, with another 186 shops run by franchisees. The company was started a little more than a century ago in Sheffield in South Yorkshire. It’s the largest confectionery company in the United Kingdom, and it has an interesting history.
Over a Century of History
In 1911, just ten years after the end of the Victorian era, Joseph William Thornton decided to open a sweet shop in Sheffield. Sheffield was booming then. Sheffield was home to hundreds of factories making the best steel in the country, and maybe the world. The factories attracted workers, and the workers needed everything, including sweets.
Thornton didn’t just want to open a plain sweet shop. He covered the walls of his new shop with wallpaper with elegant and delicate patterns embossed into it, and painted it in the Edwardian style. He displayed toffee and Kunzle cakes in fancy glass cases, and his sales help broke off pieces with toffee hammers, weighed them, and served them to customers in waxed bags sold by the pound. He was an innovative retailer, and put mirrors on the walls of his little shop to make it seem bigger. By 1913, he was successful enough to open another shop.
When Joseph Thornton opened his shop, he handed the keys to his two sons, and instructed them to make it the best sweet shop in town. From that simple beginning, Thorntons has become the best sweet shop in hundreds of towns.
Thorntons Online Shop Is as Sweet as Their Stores
It’s fun to visit a Thorntons, but there’s no reason to wait if one’s not nearby. Thorntons operates an eCommerce website that’s just as pretty to look at as the original Thornton’s in Sheffield. When you’re shopping for a gift for someone, it’s fun to pick out something special, and the Thornton website makes it easy to find something for any sweet tooth – even your own. The site is laid out beautifully, with colourful pictures of their wonderful goods on every page. You can shop by the type of candy you’re looking for, and you’ll find single items as well as collections of candies to tempt any taste.
When you drill down from any link of the front page, you’ll see a series of sub-menus, with a special offer on each page, some for substantial discounts.
There is excellent information on each page, with tidbits of information about the ingredients, recipes, and packaging of the selections on the page. Navigating your way around an eCommerce website Thorntons takes you off on interesting tangents, but the website has a recently viewed utility at the bottom of each page that will bring you back to whatever you were looking for when you clicked away. It’s a thoughtful design feature on a site with a large amount of pages. Of course there’s a basket icon on the header on each page, so you can put your purchases in and keep shopping, but it’s nice to compare two or more selections while being able to find the original page whenever you like.
Product Pages Packed With Information
Product pages have multiple pictures of each item, customer reviews, an informative description, and a curated list of related gifts. Delivery information for the item is right on the page, so there are no surprises at checkout. Personalization of items is free, which is terrific for making a special gift even more special. You can email the webpage URL to anyone, including yourself if you want to visit later on another computer, and there’s a Wish List function if you wan to leave hints for someone.
Unlike many websites, the footer on the Thorntons site is full of useful information, and the company blog is well written and interesting. Every page is easily sent to your Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter stream. It’s a first-class website from beginning to end.
It’s fun to visit a Thorntons in person, and the site offers an interactive map of the UK and Ireland with a robust search function. A Google Earth map with markers for each Thorntons lets you zoom in and find a location without searching if you prefer. Click on any icon to get instant directions from where you are.
Thorntons Selection Is Second to None
When it comes to selection, Thorntons really shines. The front page navigation lists chocolate, toffee, fudge, gifts, hampers, flowers, greeting cards, and wedding gifts, but when you click on any heading it unlocks hundreds of offerings. You can sort by price, popularity, or get Thorntons recommendations. It’s almost impossible to list all the variations of chocolates and candies available. There are classic candies, indulgent choices, simple chocolate bars, bags of chocolates to fill a dish, white chocolate, mint chocolate, truffles, and of course Thorntons signature toffee and fudge.
If you’re shopping for a gift and you’re stuck, you can let Thorntons suggest something. They have a giant list of gift ideas sorted by occasion, and they make it easy to find one or several items that any one would love. Thorntons integrates other forms of gifts into their chocolate selections, and you can send flowers and chocolates together to make a smashing impression on anyone. Their greeting card offerings are top shelf, and you can easily find something tasteful and fun to strike just the right note.
Thorntons also has wedding favours, stationery, and chocolate trays especially for the occasion, thank you presents, and champagne to go with your chocolate.
Putting the Customer First
Each item page on the website lists all the pertinent information about the chocolate selection, with great pictures, and lots of them. A very helpful part of the description under the pictures clues a buyer in on whether the selection is suitable for vegetarians, whether is contains gluten, nuts, milk, eggs, sulphites artificial colourings, or soya. When you’re looking for a gift for someone with a food allergy or sensitivity, that kind of information can it much easier to decide. The site has a hi-resolution photograph of the ingredients and nutrition label, too. It’s that kind of service that made Thorntons free-standing stores into a household word, and their website is every bit as service-oriented.
Over one hundred years ago, Joseph Thornton said he wanted to have the best sweet shop in Sheffield. The Thorntons website is just an extension of that same wish. It’s every bit as sweet as Thorntons chocolates. Give it a try!