Why did you decide to be online only?
Internet enables more cost effective promotion and selling to a niche market. A stand alone retail store is reliant on a more limited catchment of potential customers.
What was the business opportunity as you saw it?
To help connect artisans with customers. Artisans can't do it by themselves,and consumers find it hard to locate and access these specialist foods.
Who are your target customers?
More discerning food buyers to whom good quality food is an important part of their lives.
How do you then keep up a relationship with them?
Through direct marketing and social media.
What are the advantages to being online?
There is a greater potential reach among the target market and I don't need to invest in expensive bricks and mortar.
What are the disadvantages?
It's difficult to make the experience more tangible. It's hard to taste foods and demonstrate online.
Do people expect you to be cheaper because you are online only?
Not really. Some do, but my prospects are more time poor so can afford to buy online. The prices are no more expensive than retail and usually a bit lower anyway. But low price is not our positioning, easy access to a range is a stronger proposition.
How national are you?
I sell to anywhere in NZ and I'm now looking at expanding to international markets, but logistics for this are challenging.
Do you have a warehouse to house the products? Is that a big cost?
Yes, and it is a real cost, but still cheaper than having a retail outlet.
What are the biggest costs of the business?
Web maintenance, warehousing, promotion.
Did you look at other online retailers before setting up?
Yes - both here and internationally in the specialty food sector.
What tips would you have for others at the early stages of doing this?
It takes twice as long and costs three times as much as you expect.
How to get a higher profile for your small business. How do some SMEs attract more publicity than others?