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Summerhill Market updates e-commerce to match new branding

Upscale Toronto market expands its online offering with a focus on catering

Summerhill Market may be a historic landmark in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, but it’s definitely not stuck in the past.

After introducing a new brand identity in the spring (which has already won awards from the design community), the 63-year-old high-end independent known for its extensive selection of gourmet meals, has a new website with extensive lifestyle/food content and enhanced e-commerce functionality.

“We always try to be first and be different. We try to be a trend setter and not a follower,” said Brad McMullen, the third-generation owner of Summerhill Market.

The changes have been more than a year in the making and included some thought-provoking discussions with acclaimed Toronto design firm Blok Design. “When you first meet with the brand people, it’s a bit like being on a psychiatrist’s couch,” he said of the experience. “They ask you who you want to be and where you want to go.”

Where they have gone is more aggressively into the digital space, introducing its own e-commerce offering.

Since early last year, consumers have been able to buy their Summerhill groceries online but that was through the startup delivery service InstaBuggy. That service will continue, but the new site (by Reshift Media) gives Summerhill more control of its digital offering.

To start with, the focus is on catering—a big part of the Summerhill business. Customers can now place their catering and speciality basket orders online, as well as from Summerhill’s Floral Boutique, directly from the Summerhill site. But McMullen sees potential to expand the offering beyond catering to meet more of the needs of consumers. If, for example, Summerhill notices a food item becomes a trending topic in social channels, they'll be able to move quickly to source the product and make it available for purchase, explained McMullen.

The second pillar of the new digital strategy is content marketing with a blog that features a steady stream of articles that fit with the current fascination with food in popular culture. An article with advice for cooking cedar plank salmon sits beside a post on entertaining trends, and a Caesar salad recipe.

“Food is very fashionable,” said McMullen. And while Summerhill already has a reputation for high-quality products and, in particular, ready-to-eat meals and sides prepared by Summerhill’s 100 cooks, the articles, recipes and entertaining tips from reputable experts will reinforce Summerhill’s connection to eating well.

The new brand identity from Blok started rolling out in the spring and was recently completed. Blok used soft, warm pastels, with simple, uncluttered sans-serif type on all of Summerhill’s private label products.

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