Local artisan grows by 10% and saves 26 days a year with digital
Following seven booming years of business run from a small holding in deepest, darkest Powys, local preserve maker Lizzie Jones wanted Pantri Swswen products to proudly fly the flag for Wales. So, with international sales a reality, she turned to digital to avoid getting in a jam when managing a growing number of client accounts. Last year, with advice from SFBW, she realigned her marketing and used online CRM and financial management systems to grow sales by 10% and save 26 days.
"I knew technology was a way to open-up markets and manage customer sales and payments"
Like many, Lizzie wanted to return to her roots in Wales to bring up her family following a career in Cambridge. She said, “I combined my early experience of selling preserves in my parents’ farm shop with 10 years in manufacturing management to turn my love of making marmalades, chutneys and conserves and cakes into a viable business. From experience I knew technology was a way to open-up markets and manage customer sales and payments. So, I turned to free or affordable digital packages and services like SFBW to help me do it for real.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking Pantri Swswen is a niche business, but with a projected global compound annual growth rate of 3.6% from 2019-2024, the jams, jelly and preserves market attracts competition from all corners of the globe. And competition is fierce. Lizzie has won multiple prestigious accolades in the Fortnum & Mason sponsored World’s Original Marmalade Awards culminating in a coveted Gold beating 2000 competitors from over 30 countries.
And with both one and two gold stars from the Great Taste Awards during 2018 and 2019 for preserves and cakes, the recognition continues as Pantri Swswen develops as a luxury welsh food brand.
"I use digital to make the most of the international exposure"
She says, “I use digital to make the most of the international exposure I get from these awards, as the main challenge for me is managing my customer accounts, and invoicing and collecting timely payments.” 12 months ago, Lizzie attended a workshop on SEO and received guidance from SFBW business adviser, Paul Gadd. “It was the catalyst for change”, says Lizzie. She updated her website to attract visitors from beyond the Powys borders, and with help from Paul adopted a customer relationship management system, HubSpot, as well as an online accounting package called Wave.
"In one year, I’ve grown sales by 10%, and I’m spending less time and money on marketing because it is focused these days."
“My most valuable assets are my customers”, says Lizzie. And having one central place to store their contact details and purchases, as well as interactions they’ve had with the website or social media that indicate interest has made business development much more structured. “It’s down to HubSpot that I’m reaching more customers and communicating with more existing clients. In one year, I’ve grown sales by 10%, and I’m spending less time and money on marketing because it is focused these days. Best of all, I’m saving around 16 hours a week because I’m not chasing my tail”, she continues.
“This is especially true from a finance point of view.” Wave is a double entry accountancy package designed for small businesses. It’s easy to set up and uses dashboards so you can see exactly where you are, and even sends you bills and invoice reminders. “It was a god send for me”, says Lizzie. “My next step is to set up social media apps and build ecommerce into the website so people can buy electronically. Then, I’ll employ someone to build on my current momentum”.
She finishes by saying, “digital saves me from getting in a pickle. Those processes which underpin and stabilize larger business are now available to smaller companies at a price point that suits them. Online resources are a great leveler; they open-up competition and give everyone opportunities, whether to grow a successful operation or to have a better lifestyle. I’m so lucky that I’m able to do both because digital has save me 26 days a year, which I split between the business and enjoying my family. And that is partly down to the help I’ve had from SFBW. I can’t recommend them enough.”