I never expected it to be easy, nor did I want it to be. But, I never expected selling a product to be so tough…
Many of you will have seen a post on Facebook this week where I shared my feelings about my current situation. If you didn’t see it, said:
Having a really difficult time at the moment. I desperately want to write a blog post about it but I hate to be negative and I know things will get better. I just wanted you to know that if I’m quiet it’s because I’m struggling. Struggling to sell a lot of flour and beginning to wish I’d never entered this experiment. I can no longer do the things I love…but spend my days doing what I hate (selling) whilst making no money. There I said it. I’m feeling sad.
The response to it from those who read it was incredibly touching. I had so many comments, helpful suggestions and general love that it brought me to tears for the umpteenth time that day. I also had phone calls from other small business owners I’ve met in the last few months offering up their support and help. Wow.
As I said in the post, I hate to be negative so I generally don’t let you know when things are tough.
However, the things that I have learnt over the last few months are pretty shocking and I really wanted to share them with you so that you have an understanding of why I’m finding things so difficult.
For those of you who don’t know, I had a buyer for my current batch of flours. A company ordered a tonne and then pulled out of the sale at the last minute, leaving me in the predicament that I currently face.
As a way of getting the flour on the market I chose to sell single bags of flour on Amazon.
My decision was based on the fact that you, my customers, could buy a bag of flour with your other shopping and try it out without paying extortionate postage fees.
When I sent the flour in, I had no idea that it would be classed as an ‘add on’ item…meaning that you have to buy £20 worth of other things in order to receive it. That was my first disappointment.
Now I find that I also pay one of the three fees that Amazon charges every time someone makes a purchase and then asks for a refund (for whatever reason – I don’t find that out). Amazon charges me when you change your mind and don’t buy it!
I knew when I started selling on Amazon my profit would be close to zero (20p to be precise – if people don’t get refunds!!), but I also knew that it was a way of potentially reaching customers that I wouldn’t reach any other way.
So, aside from Amazon I have been working hard to get the flour stocked elsewhere. I have made hundreds of phone calls, left dozens of messages and written hundreds of emails. Most end up with no response…
The ones that do respond lay down their terms for selling which are way out of my reach.
I’ll give an example of one wholesaler who did actually respond to my phone call and follow up email.
They wanted sale or return along with an £800 plus VAT advert in their magazine.
Another wholesaler wanted a 9 month shelf life (I wish I could wave my wand and make that happen).
Speaking to Marianna of Superseed Pasta this morning, she had a response from a wholesaler who hasn’t responded to me at all. They wanted her to place three £1000 adverts in their magazine as a prerequisite for selling her pasta!
In addition I have been attending and looking into attending shows. To give an example of how expensive this can be, I was recently quoted £1800 plus VAT for a three day event in London. This seems pretty typical of the big shows.
So please forgive me when I have ‘off’ days. Sometimes I wonder what on earth I am doing. Why I don’t just go out and get a ‘proper’ job that pays me a steady income.
Then I receive emails and contacts from you, telling me what you have baked with my flour; how you have been following me over the years, and urging me to continue…and it reminds me why I am doing this.
I want to help others in our situation…feeding our children and/or ourselves with white refined rice-based products is not healthy and I firmly believe that what you put in your body is what you get out.
The best solution is to avoid gluten-free products all together and live a naturally gluten-free existence…focussing on eating fresh vegetables and fruit along with meat, fish, nuts, gluten-free grains, starches etc, but let’s face it we all want baked products sometimes!
My flour offers the opportunity to bake delicious products, without strange ingredients, that taste great AND provide nutrients…
Anyway, if after reading this you are wondering how on earth you can support me and make sure some money comes my way and not into the pockets of big companies you can do the following:
- Buy from one of my stockists
- Speak to your local health food shop, deli or farm shop and ask them to contact me to order some
- Talk to your local cafe that makes gluten-free products and let them know about my flour
- Buy 6 packs from me directly and store them in the freezer if you think you won’t use them for a while.
I get through around 3 bags a week making bread, pancakes/waffles and the occasional cake and I feel happy knowing that there are no weird ingredients in those things that I make!
As always I thank you for your loyalty and understanding. I’m not looking for sympathy by writing this post. I merely wanted to share the reality that I face at the moment, along with other start-up businesses in the UK.