Sur La Table was able to accelerate offline to online adaptability to respond to changes in customer behavior with their existing digital-led strategy.


Based in Seattle, Washington, Sur La Table is a retail company that sells kitchenware products, including cookware, cutlery, cooks’ tools, small electrics, tabletop and linens, bakeware, glassware and bar and housewares. Sur La Table has 184 stores in 32 states, as well as websites, blogs, and catalogs focusing on food, chefs, restaurants, and products.  


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of Sur La Table’s stores offered culinary classes, and they planned to close stores that did not include kitchens.


As the COVID-19 lockdown began, Sur La Table followed the guidance of national leadership and closed their stores in order to keep their customers and employees safe. However, they reacted swiftly as their customers’ behavior changed in response to the lockdown. Their customers started consuming more long-form online content via Instagram and YouTube to search for recipes and food ideas to support their stay-at-home lifestyles. They also began to purchase Sur La Table’s bakeware, glassware, ingredients, and houseware cooks’ tools online as they would have done in-store.  


Using their existing customer engagement platform, Sur La Table was able to optimize and grow their digital-led online customer engagement strategy.  


Sur La Table changed its tone and messaging to support its customers’ sudden change in lifestyle.  Instead of promoting sales of products in their digital content, they sent their customers’ lifestyle content such as step-by-step cooking videos, recipe ideas, and inspiration for meal planning and preparation. The company enhanced its website and developed a community where cooking videos and recipe ideas are shared with its customers. Their customers engage with video content, get tips and inspiration, and learn new techniques. These are just some of the experiences Sur La Table offered in-store prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  They have now made it possible to deliver the same engaging experience online.      


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how consumers engage with a brand. These sudden shifts will impact the retail landscape now, as well as after the pandemic subsides. Brands like Sur La Table have adapted their business continuity, recovery, and growth strategies via a digital-led strategy to stay relevant to their customers during and after the pandemic.