Storbie Success Stories take a deep-dive into the businesses and the people selling online with Storbie. Learn how they achieved success, get inspiration for your online business and top marketing advice from online store owners who know their stuff!
Many consumers are opting to connect more directly with the makers of the products they consume. Successful manufacturers will be those that can facilitate this engagement. We spoke to Paul Robin from Ohiwa Macadamias. Paul shares some valuable insights for manufacturers that want to build meaningful connections with end consumers and adopt a direct-to-consumer model by selling online.
Why consumers want to connect with the makers and the growers
Ohiwa Macadamias is in the Food Tourism industry. We have our own macadamia spray-free orchard near Ohiwa Harbour in the sunny Bay of Plenty. We then process and sell our own premium quality fresh nuts through our orchard shop over the busy summer period.
Visiting customers are intrigued that our small family-owned business can create products so healthy and tasty from a little factory and shop tucked away discretely beneath the hills. They love being able to talk directly to the people that grow and make the food, and to eat our ice creams under the shade of the macadamia trees. Some are stunned that the quality of the nuts is so different to what they are used to in the supermarkets. It’s very energising for us to hear our customers so enthusiastic about the beauty of our orchard environment and the quality of the nut products.
How the Ohiwa Macadamias website supports the direct-to-consumer model
We also make and sell the Ohiwa WonderCracker. This is a top-end nut cracker designed to open the very difficult macadamia nut, but it also works for walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts… pretty much any nut.
Initially we sold the WonderCracker at the local farmers market or from our shop. Then we discovered Storbie and developed our website. The Storbie platform was so user-friendly, and support so quick and helpful, that we quickly became confident and comfortable using it. For a year or so we pushed things along with Google Adwords, but pretty soon the website took on a life of its own and we found we didn’t need to spend money on advertising.
We’ve sold our WonderCracker to customers all over the world from our website. We don’t use distributors, although we have been asked many times by people wanting to stock our nutcracker. We just sell over our website and from our shop in summer. Customers like dealing directly with the guy that makes them. They like that the product is unique and elegant and built to last.
That’s what Storbie can do for a small or medium business; it can allow you as the producer to deal directly with the end user. People love that. People spread the word to their friends. We have the words ‘Ohiwa Macadamias’ lasered onto our nutcracker, so people know how to search for us. Another good thing about online sales is that they just keep ticking along no matter what the weather, the time of day or year. It’s great to wake up in the morning, switch on your emails, and see the sales made while you’ve been asleep.
A window into the world of growing macadamia nuts
The idea of growing macadamias has been in and out of fashion over the years. We’ve stuck with it for 25 years, have seen the ups and downs of any business, and are still here enjoying the ride. Initially the idea was to get rich quick. Then it became get rich slowly. Now it’s more like make enough to keep everybody happy and enjoy the great place we live and work in. And we do work in a great place. Some customers gaze around and call it paradise. How lucky are we?
Seasons determine everything. Summer is the busiest, when we’re cooking up a storm and selling for six days a week. Autumn is for maintenance of the orchard and doing project work. Winter is for harvesting. Think climbing trees on a cold winters day and looking forward to coffee at smoko around the wood-fire. Spring is for cracking and storing raw nut product in our big chiller ready to do things all over again. Cracking and sorting is repetitive; classic rock with the volume up helps here.
Sometimes we think we’ve created an unstoppable monster; that we have a tiger by the tail. I guess that’s a good problem to have. Watch this space.