Ben Rohr 10:37
That’s a really interesting point. Because all the time most of the learnings come from mobile supply chain stress and how to build to manage or mitigate risk in in that side of things. But from a customer point of view, what was really interesting for us was how significantly particularly on the Amazon platform How it can change overnight. That demand and that was not something we ever considered. I mean, we just did not think our sales could go from a very slow growth month a month model to literally overnight and, and trying to gather that information of why that’s happening has probably been something that I think Amazon’s potentially lacking. Because we don’t really understand why that happened in such a way. And, and it’s kind of more art than science, if you know what I mean, which for a data driven platform seems a logical lace from our point of view. And so it is kind of crucial to have someone like Bob bolts, they’re holding a hand because, you know, we just, I would have had no chance of being able to convince the board to keep funding this strategy and getting the growth that we had if I I couldn’t justify some of the things that were happening. And again, I’ll say more thoughts.
James Thomson 12:05
It almost begs the question, what else have you got to sell that we can throw on Amazon and see how that goes? So, so let’s talk a little bit more about the Amazon channel. When you think about the opportunity to sell a lot more product on the channel, certainly there are sales revenue opportunities. Are there other types of ways in which you can leverage this channel beyond just generating more sales revenue? Talk to me about the good, the bad, the ugly things that you think that you can leverage through this channel?
Ben Rohr 12:38
Yeah, it’s really interesting when there’s a perception in Australia and whether this is right or wrong in the US that Amazon is really for cheaper, lower end brands. Now we are a high end brand foot fully vertically integrated, fully traceable We control all aspects of the supply chain. So it is very expensive, the production chain for our small company. And so therefore we have a really premium product that is priced accordingly. And so the logic of, you know, I guess convincing the Australian perception that Amazon is more for a cheaper discount type product, to say that we can represent our brand in a way that reflects that we want it to be reflected is actually something that I have evolved and learned that Amazon does actually have that capability. If you’ve got the enhanced brand content, if you’ve got your store antenna represented within that fairly ugly looking platform. And you know why that actually does make it look really beautiful and enables you to in many ways stand out from the crowd. I actually think that I laid honey which is an everyday honey. There are a lot of competitors. In our segment, however, not really that I’m presenting the honey, how light were present here. And I actually think it’s been a bit of a strength because it’s just a bit of a differentiator, particularly in the top 20 homies that are sitting within that category.
James Thomson 14:18
So I want to take your comments about the Amazon platform. Talk to me about are we seeing Amazon Australia also being viewed this way by folks within Australia?
Ben Rohr 14:29
It’s a really interesting thing. Amazon Australia, and I have probably daily discussions with Australians about this. Australia’s got some real logistical challenges and obviously in the US, Amazon has been able to nail this logistics solution which is famous right from what has driven this demand, we’ve been able to get this free delivery in such a prompt time is the real killer. And in Australia, they’ve only launched FBA in the last 12 months. Yes, they really struggled. They’re not getting the uptake. They’re not getting the odds on the platform. They’re basically giving away prime memberships. Yeah, if you go on there, you can just shop like without actually signing up to brown shop like you’re a prime camp counselor. And so therefore, it’s really hard market to compare because they just they’ve struggled, if I look at the sales on our Amazon Australian side, the delivery delays from order a significant compared to the US so I think Amazon is still trying to resolve the logistical solution in Australia. And until they do, they just won’t be able to create that comparative advantage. I’m confident I will. But Australia is a small market in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, we have 25 million people and a really large spice of land. So it is a real challenge for Amazon will be interesting to see if I can make it work.
James Thomson 15:57
I’m from Canada, Amazon went into Canada. The same issue. Lots and lots of geography, not a lot of population. It’s taken them good five, six years to figure it out. But we’re now starting to see some very good traction in Canada. So I would I would bet on Amazon to eventually figure this one out.
Ben Rohr 16:16
I be a full wave, I bet against Amazon.
James Thomson 16:21
So talk to me about how have you been able to get us customers to discover your brand? Certainly, putting the products on Amazon and doing some advertising helps. But other other types of things you’ve done outside of Amazon, that have created awareness of what is this maluca brand? And why should I be buying it over other brands of honey?
Ben Rohr 16:40
Yeah, well, we’ve got our own e commerce website as well. And we do a lot of promotional work via that. And that’s exactly how we want to brand representative within our own API system. And so we’re still refining that message. And we do advertising across all the usual sort of social media channels. by Google and Bing and all the different search search engines to try and build that awareness, but we also until earlier this year had a reasonably active brick and mortar approach to tell our story. So we’ve actually been selling bulk tea tree oil into the US for don’t take the day late over a decade and, and so we have an established base actually in Santa Clarita in California. And and so via that we’ve got you know, we generally go to a lot of the the trade shows like Expo West and present the brand, the brand will have its own stand and we also talk regularly to the the sort of key brick and mortar distribution channels that are around, we just haven’t gone into it because it’s it’s a different approach. And we were doing it the interesting thing with the brick and mortar channel, probably even product COVID-19 Yeah, we were saying easily see results and traction that you can, you know, very quickly translate into a successful model, at least from a modeling perspective, whether on the disk, the traditional side, you’ve got to show relevancy and otherwise. And you’ve got to try and demonstrate that your product is you’re willing to put marketing dollars behind something up front, without actually getting a sale laden in the door. And so it makes it a real challenge for a new brand to get noticed. You really need someone that just gets convinced by your story. And that usually takes a couple of years of going to these experts knocking on the same doors, and then they realize you’re not flying or not. Yeah. And so yeah, let’s let’s give them a guy and a couple of years would be very quick. It’s probably like three or four. And this is why the Amazon platform, I guess, guidance this advantage because we can Now use the Amazon platform to potentially leverage that other network and say, Look, customers like us. And, and we’re selling product and they see evidence. So you think it makes sense to, you know, give us go?
James Thomson 19:16
Yes, yes. So talk to me more about how do you think about the shopping cart on your own website versus shopping carts on marketplaces like Amazon? How do you use them tactically how to use them strategically? How do you balance the customers that are found in one place versus another?
Ben Rohr 19:35
Yeah, it’s really interesting. So we actually we’ve gone a different approach and we’re not
100% sold on this, we’re still learning.
We actually advertise that we are on Amazon on our site. So through the cart, you can click at any point on Amazon, we don’t want to lose customers. We only do this in the Interestingly enough, we don’t do this in Australia. We, we don’t want to lose customers because they can easily go through that purchasing variants. And what might be assumption given the amount of bounce rate that we had early on without website without those buttons that those customers were going on to Amazon any land searching for the product. And so we just tried to make it a bit more convenient. And I guess one of the advantages on that website when people do go through and check out that we can control a lot more, is that cross purchasing the upsell and I haven’t gone Do you have it? But I have it in there ny All right, all right. A customer gets it with everything that they buy on Amazon, so I’m not sure they really even notice it most of the time because if they’re always on Amazon, it’s just a pop up that they used to where they if they knew outside then these things are new and these products are new and we can certainly I think I provide a different experience for them that we think is more enhanced than Amazon however, I think Amazon has a much quicker Yeah, that one click process and I have to enter the address. It’s just a far more efficient checkout. Wait wait logical when I was living in the US, which we I was was wasn’t that long ago. I did all my shopping on Amazon as well. So I completely understand why you maze using that platform.
James Thomson 21:29
So what are bioworks experts sales team talks to prospective brand clients. One of the biggest challenges we see is brands like of awareness that dealing with Amazon requires a very different set of skills compared to running their own shopping cart. You talked a little bit about this earlier in our discussion. What were some of your organization’s Hard Knocks in getting the Amazon channel to work for you? What What did you quickly realize, oops, we can’t quite do this ourselves.
Unknown Speaker 21:57
Unknown Speaker 21:59
James Thomson 22:00
I’m not looking for you to compliment us. I’m just trying to understand our
Ben Rohr 22:03
jobs. The irony is I do have a bit of a commerce experience, right. But I did not have and this is more me driving this Amazon strategy internally on outside. Everyone else I’m working with, didn’t have any e commerce background. And so it was really me evangelizing it. And that was because as soon as I got in there, I went. This isn’t what I thought it was right? I thought, well, what the hell am I doing here? And almost instantly, I knew I needed help. And so, to be honest, it was just a naivety on our side as to what Amazon was just another ecommerce platform. It’s not just another it’s a whole ecosystem unto itself. And you don’t go into that without experts on board and and so given our strategies, a hands off strategy we don’t want To build solid strength, we’re a smaller company, we want to control things from Australia. It just made complete sense to go with an expert in this area. And it didn’t take me long at all, you know, just searching through the dashboard alone. And looking at the different reports, I realized that we didn’t have the skill set on
success, we need to find that skill set.
James Thomson 23:23
So I want to change gears a little bit here, Ben, and I want to talk about your professional mentors, and the kinds of advice that they have given you over the years as you’ve changed the types of industries in which you worked. And you have more breaths than most people we talked to, in terms of different industries, different types of jobs. Talk to me about the kinds of mentorship that you had and the kinds of advice that have helped you get to the place where you are today.
Ben Rohr 23:52
JACK, that’s a really interesting question. I’ve got a very, very checkered background in terms of my hopping across the industries a yacht was a classic case of getting through high school and doing well without exceptional going to college and doing well without being exceptional because oh my and I chose these broad based top topics because it was more about employability. I’m a Gen X was more about employability than aspirational. I want to be, you know, the next Hugh Jackman or therefore I’ll be an actor was more like if I’m going to get through life. I’ve got to choose something that is, you know, there’s a job at the end of it kind of thing. But at the same time, as you go through life, you realize, yeah, you’ve got to enjoy things. And if you want to be successful of things, and this is very early in my pace, one of mental with it effectively, it was like a fin tech startup and he was so passionate about what we were building them and I was more on the finance side that he was actually even explicitly say it to me, he made it very clear that if I was to be successful, I needed to find something I really enjoyed doing. And I, you know, this checkered background is probably a sign that each thing that I’ve sort of switched to meant, I really didn’t enjoy it before I made the switch. And I had to look for another challenge or get to a point where I’ll be getting bored and, or whatever I wasn’t what I wanted to be. So I made this move. And funnily enough with where I am today, I’ve been in, you know, with the same good for five years now, which is long as I’ve ever done with anyone. And I’m really enjoying the challenges and the process that we’re going through and growing out this brand, working with the founders that had this, this amazing property. And then, you know, trying to bring this to the world. Yeah, I think I’ve found it a few times and actually So, yeah, that was one particular mentor. But as you go along that journey, you need to develop the confidence to be able to make those switches and, and different mentors over the years have shown me that, you know, I was always a bit risk averse in the younger years where you would be nervous to make that step. Get those mentors sort of said to me that don’t be nervous. I mean, I’m really lucky I’ve grown up in an era where we’ve had come to Australia actually, until probably now has had hasn’t had a recession since the early 90s. And that was wrong when I was finishing hospital. So we’re having this great period of growth that has bring bought you know, full employment opportunities and things like that. I really feel for some of the younger people today, going through what we’re going through right now and and trying to understand how I would act in this situation if I found myself without a job. So yeah, the mental is pliva pop but also I I see myself as incredibly lucky to be living through Such a prosperous time for the Western world anyway, for developed nations.
James Thomson 27:06
Hey, thank you for sharing those insights with me, Ben. I want to wrap up our discussion today by asking you a question around the overall experience on Amazon that you’ve had. What What advice would you give to brands looking to manage their online presence on Amazon, such that they could create alignment with the kinds of work they’ve done in creating distribution and other channels?
Ben Rohr 27:32
Look, I honestly the very first thing and I this is going to look like plugging a box but i’m not i can tell you, I’m telling you, he made an expert. He made an expert that will help you navigate, we refer to Amazon internally as the black box. If you don’t have an expert, then you are not only luck will determine how well you go on that platform. No one wants to go into business based online, right? And, and then try to align that with you the things you can control is so important. And so you need an expert that’s going to be able to help you, you know, tell your brand story that you can control in the way that you can control through the mechanisms that you can control like your own e commerce store, brick and mortar distribution channels. And you need to be able to communicate that to an expert to say, this is how you need to do it within Amazon. And it changes so rapidly. We’re saying change, you know, day to day on our advertising, and a now a brand building within that Amazon platform. And I honestly, as someone who actually hasn’t been experiencing this, I’ll put my hands up in the air and just say thank God, I’ve got someone else looking at Yes, I have a crate behind them that is doing the research to be able to then hopefully come in Take that back to us. So I can then, you know, develop an education to support and to feed this platform you feel growing rapidly, you need to feed it with resource. And no one wants to allocate research resource to thing I don’t understand. And so this is, I would say, honestly, the number one thing you need to do is get an expert, get the help. If it’s not Bob Bob’s, you know, someone else that is an expert, and, and then make sure you’re communicating to them regularly about the things that are happening and the things that you’re saying, and demand of them to explain to you what’s happening on Amazon.
James Thomson 29:38
I wish I could explain some of the aspects of the business that we simply don’t fully understand, but But certainly, I hear what you’re saying loud and clearly with looking at this Amazon sandbox as a creature in and of itself. So, Ben, Ben, I want to thank you for joining us today. For those of you interested in learning more about Ben’s organization, please visit the loo Cut australia.com Thanks, James.
Thanks for listening to the Buy Box Experts podcast. Be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web and we’ll see you next time.