How 3 creative Kiwi businesses handled COVID-19

COVID-19 rocked the boat for many small businesses in New Zealand. Business owners had to work hard to stay afloat. These three awesome Kiwi businesses hustled to help their business survive the storm of COVID-19.

Paintvine: Bringing you Banksy in your living room

Before COVID-19, Paintvine was a 100% on-premise events company hosting ‘paint and sip’ events in bars and restaurants around New Zealand. Since then, they’ve completely evolved their business model to 100% online. Paintvine Online offers a Netflix-style service where people can select which painting they’d like to recreate, using the art supplies they’ve been sent. Watching the videos, you then follow the artist’s directions from the comfort of your own home. 

Previously, Paintvine’s success was focused on the number of tickets sold to each event. Now, it’s all about subscription revenue for the online classes. This opened up an entirely new market for the business, with 60% of purchases being first-time customers of Paintvine.

“The biggest challenge for us has definitely been managing our cash flow. The online offering is not generating the same revenue that we were bringing in before. We had to work on understanding what we can strip back in the business and how we can amplify this new offering to drive revenue into the business.” Alex Hamilton, Co-founder and CEO of Paintvine.

Alex says his best piece of advice is not to be too hard on yourself. This pandemic was out of anyone’s control and came about so quickly, so it’s important not to take it personally and to remember how far you’ve come on your business journey.

The Caker: Bringing joy to your bubble

Jordan Rondel, a.k.a The Caker, started her business in 2010 when she went from blogger to full-time baker in a space of what felt like overnight. Now living in L.A., Jordan faced some tough challenges when both LA and Auckland operations had to press pause. 

As events were cancelled, and lockdown measures began, there was no way to sell cakes. Luckily, The Caker also sells cake kits, which are high-end make-at-home baking mixes. These kits were a saving grace once COVID-19 hit as it was a source of revenue coming in while people weren’t buying freshly made cakes from the store. But two weeks into the lockdown, the kits sold out. 

When New Zealand moved to Alert Level 3, Jordan was determined to get the business back up and running, and her staff back to the bakery. They came up with an idea, to start making ‘bubble’ cakes, designed to feed 4-6 people in people’s lockdown bubbles. They were a hit!

“Cake brings people joy and in these circumstances, it’s important to enjoy the small things. I’m so grateful that people took the opportunity to order a bubble cake, it’s been fantastic.” – Jordan Rondel, Founder of The Caker.

Forty Thieves: Juggling demand during uncertainty


Brent and Shyr are proud owners of  nut butter company
Forty Thieves. They use natural, nutrient-rich ingredients to make their delicious nut butters, which are sold in 250 stores across New Zealand. 

COVID-19 impacted the Forty Thieves business in a number of ways. The initial challenge was that some production staff didn’t feel safe to come into work, which meant Brent and Shyr had to get back on the tools themselves. A lack of resources added pressure during the crazy period of Kiwis “panic buying” where production had to be increased and fast. This spike in sales was great for business, but demand started to slow down once Kiwis’ pantries were full. 

Brent and Shyr also experienced a massive shift in consumers purchasing online, partly because of lower stock in supermarkets and the convenience for customers.  

“In March, we saw this initial trend of sales being made online, and this was solidified in April. This shift in purchasing behaviour has opened the mindset of a lot of consumers who would traditionally buy in-store. As a manufacturer, this has shown us we should explore the online channel more and look to invest in this.” Brent Godfrey, Forty Thieves.

Brent and Shyr decided to offer free shipping on all online orders to help customers get their hands on Forty Thieves products if they weren’t comfortable going to the supermarket. This paid off as messages of support flooded in from customers. Brent says you’ve got to learn to adapt and be flexible if you want your business to do well. 

To learn more about how our customers and partners are handling COVID-19, check out our latest videos here


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