Ben Rohr is the CEO of Meluka Australia, an Australian health and wellness firm that grows and manufactures tea tree oil, honey, and probiotic concentrate. Prior to Meluka Australia, Ben has been an investment director, a strategic property consultant, and co-founder of a successful retail coffee and roasting chain in Australia. He also worked in New York at Mezco, a family investment company and DTZ in Australia (UGL Services).
Meluka Australia and Buy Box Experts work together on Meluka Australia’s Amazon US channel.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- What makes the honey of Meluka Australia special
- The challenges Ben’s company faced when they decided to enter the US market through Amazon
- What are the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and how Meluka Australia is coping
- How Meluka Australia has been managing their inventory on Amazon to mitigate supply chain issues
- Ben talks about consumer behavior on health products and the Australian perception of Amazon AUS and Amazon US
- How Ben promotes their products outside of Amazon in the US and how they balance sales on their website and in Amazon
- How Ben realized he needed a different set of skills to manage Amazon and the strategies he used
- Ben explains why success follows when you do something you enjoy and his advice for brands who want to join Amazon
In this episode…
When the company that supplies Australia’s tea tree honey decided to promote its products in the US market, one of the first distribution channels it went for was Amazon. Meluka Australia produces premium organic products and despite the perceptions Australians have about Amazon US, the company decided to give it a try.
However, Ben Rohr, the CEO of the company, soon realized that his team did not have the necessary skill set to effectively manage this new distribution platform. He sought advice from Buy Box Experts and now, their products have broken into the US market like wildfire.
In this episode of Buy Box Experts, James Thomson interviews Ben Rohr of Meluka Australia about what sets their tea tree honey apart from other products in the market, why they decided to enter the US market through Amazon, the challenges they faced in the process, and why he believes that if you want to establish on Amazon, you need someone like Buy Box Experts to help you navigate the process seamlessly. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Buy Box Experts
- Controlling Your Brand in The Age of Amazon by James Thomson
- Meluka Australia
- Meluka Australia’s channel on Amazon
- Meluka Honey
- Expo West
- Ben Rohr on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode
Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.
The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.
Buy Box prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.
Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com
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James Thomson 0:18
Hi, I’m James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts podcast. I’m a partner with Buy Box Experts and the former business head of the selling on Amazon team at Amazon, as well as the first account manager for the Fulfillment by Amazon program. I’m the co author of the book controlling your brand in the age of Amazon, and co founder of the prosper show one of the largest continuing education conferences for sellers in North America. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. When you hire buy box experts you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon. Go to buy box experts comm to learn more Today our guest is Ben roar CEO of maluca, Australia and Australian health and wellness firm that grows and manufactures tea tree oil, honey, and probiotic concentrate. Prior to maluca. Australia Ben has been an investment director of strategic property consultant and co founder of a successful retail coffee and roasting chain in Australia. In full disclosure to our listeners, Luca Australia and buy box experts work together on the Luca, Australia’s Amazon us channel business today. So welcome, Ben and thank you for joining us today on the buy box experts podcast.
Ben Rohr 1:35
Thank you, James. Pleasure to be here.
James Thomson 1:38
Then I’ve got to start by asking you tell me about the Australian tea tree. How does this make them a Luca honey brand different and special?
Ben Rohr 1:47
Well, I’m not sure if many of your listeners are probably familiar with tea tree oil. These comes from a species of tea tree called melaleuca Alterna folio and this is 19 To the region of where our plantation and farms exist in northern New South Wales in Australia, and the leaves of that tea tree, the melaleuca alternative folia and known for their antibacterial properties, the Indigenous Australians used to refer to this region where the which is the birthplace of this species as a healing ground. They used it on their skin, they used it in tea for medicinal purposes. And, and a lot of people globally use tea tree or exactly for that use which is for its antibacterial properties, framing and skincare in a whole lot of other properties in relation to our mullica honey. The bees are harvesting from that species as well as other Australian botanical spaces. And so it produces this very unique flavor and medicinal honey.
James Thomson 2:59
So I’m better off eating honey for breakfast every morning if it’s palooka, honey.
Ben Rohr 3:04
Well, I think you’re better off eating any roll honey, particularly every morning for breakfast, as opposed to non-rural, honey. And Alice has, you know, these other antibacterial properties, which we think are really
James Thomson 3:19
great. So let me ask you, you’ve been on Amazon for a short period of time. Talk to me about some of the biggest fundamental challenges that adding the Amazon channel has created for your company. How has the leadership team made the mental shift to embrace this changing distribution model of having Amazon as part of your overall business?
Ben Rohr 3:40
It’s a really interesting question guys, and probably has a whole lot more relevance in these times today. We were relatively particularly in relation to the honey, a relatively new brand. We only launched it just over a year ago, even in Australia and when we We’re looking at opportunities to distribute these outside of Australia, it is really challenging to set up your own sales force. And to get into the brick and mortar stores. So many hoops you have to get through, particularly for a new brand. Amazon make it can make it easy for you to at least get a listing on their platform. So, in regards of actually just getting in the door, that’s a start. But if you’re probably a bit naive, naively, last year, when we were looking at this, we thought, you know, this is just a really big ecommerce platform that, you know, a significant amount of Americans engage on so we have to be there. But when you look at the complexities about how that relates to being able to get presence and to grow your business, it is I would dare say from our point of view, a black box. So it became very challenging for myself. The executive And the board to really getting behind that strategy without the expertise with you. Now in turn,
James Thomson 5:08
once you’ve got the expertise in place, how did you set the expectations of what you might potentially actually realize from this channel? I mean, you jumped, you jumped in saying there were a lot of potential us customers. But did you have any any better sense in terms of what you were actually getting yourself into?
Ben Rohr 5:27
Yeah, look, we do a fair bit of market research on the on the us before we decided to make a guess Amazon is a pillar of our strategy. And, and probably the key difference with the 400 products that we had at that point in time was that our honey is organic, and it’s raw. And when we looked at the US market, there are a lot of raw honey products on the market. However, they there’s not a lot of organic products on the market. And when we looked at the Amazon platform, we you know, that’s it. confirmed to us it is really challenging to harvest organic honey bees can fly up to five kilometers. And so you need a significant area of land that you can confirm this hasn’t been traded with any pesticides or insecticides. Why farming is today that’s a really large portion of land in Australia with less with a very small population and a continent as a nation. So we have a lot of land and a lot of land that is deemed organic. And so in that regard, we have this unique product and we saw a unique fit to the US market. And so the decision to go to the US probe that but then the decision to go to Amazon was more about the fact that when I was speaking initially with Bob box, and some of the stats that were given to me by the sales rep, were compelling and I actually spoke to him Amazon rep at Expo West last year, who really convinced me that it should be a centerpiece of our approach to that market.
James Thomson 7:08
So let’s talk about the current COVID crisis. What kinds of challenges is your organization been faced with and how have you tackled them, given how quickly these unexpected changes have crept up on us?
Ben Rohr 7:22
It was a really good problems to have James but getting a honey product. We had a significant bushfire a wildfire, I think he call red problem earlier in the year we impacted a lot of area, a lot of the area where our plantation exists, which is impacted on a lot of supply. And then we have you know, when you combine this with the fact that the US is a long way away, and all of a sudden the will just shut down or not, literally. And then we have this platform that had this growth in in customer Coming in looking for products and placing orders. So we have this demand driven sort of pressure on our supply chain that was already under pressure as a result of the wall fall. So we, we just had to hustle James to get product over as quickly as we could. We initially was sending a lot of air freight, which, while those routes were still open and affordable, was a really viable pathway. However, that cost is just become unreliable. And so we just were lucky that we managed to just get ahead of the curve and make a couple of really good decisions on on manufacturing large volumes and getting it over there to meet that demand. And now I think we’ve got a number of sea shipments at sea that should make our ever growing still ever growing demand. But it was very challenging. It was touching guy.
James Thomson 8:57
So one of the one of the audits He’s about Amazon is that if your business takes off and you find yourself with more demand than you anticipated, Amazon ends up punishing you if you don’t end up keeping the inventory in place and so how do you deal with so called good news of customers being interested in your products?
Ben Rohr 9:19
I what’s great about that Jags is that when we first launched you guys launched for us on the platform and took control of it. And I think we just outstripped demand very early, one of the first two months and we ran out of inventory. Even though I your rep at a time and explain to us the dangers of that, we felt a very large number so it didn’t really impact us. And so we knew firsthand that pain and so that prepared us for when it would have been far more significant, the damage lighter during the early part of this year. And then helped us. I guess hustle because you’re exactly right. This Amazon platform. I didn’t realize going into this how brutal they were for your supply chain problems. Were a small business that’s growing. You know, it’s not. I don’t think there’s a small business a lot that does not have supply chain problems.
James Thomson 10:21
Yep. Yep. So talk to me during the crisis, are there things that you’ve learned about your customers interaction with the brand, things that you’ve learned that you can apply to your business after we get to a new normal post COVID situation?
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