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Smell the coffee

A Hampshire health food shop gets social with its niche organic coffee pods

Local retailing performs best when it meets customer demand and then spreads the word.

Impressed with Organically Speaking’s ability to source organic fruit and veg as well as wholefoods, skincare and household products, many of Jess Hughes’s customers wondered if she could work her magic with pods for their fancy coffee-making machines. Jess and her team – Jo, Laura and Pauline – did their research over steaming organic lattés.

“There are many different pods available on the market but little choice and availability for organic coffee pods,” says Jess. “The majority of our customers have Nespresso or generic machines that require a specific size and type of pod.

“So we set about finding a delicious organic coffee that we could import ourselves to fit their machines.”

You might expect these to be unearthed in Italy but the team found them in Portugal, much to the delight of their customers. The coffee is 100% roasted Arabica bean from Peru and Mexico, blended in Portugal (the Portuguese are world-leading experts in blending coffee) and available at 5/10 or 9/10 intensity.

The next stage was to expand sales. “We chatted to Your Healthy Living magazine and our pods were entered into their awards in the Best New Product category,” says Jess. “We then discovered that the publisher, JFN Productions, also have other services such as helping businesses with their social media platforms.

“We had previously considered getting some help with this area of the business but found that most Online & Social Media companies were more used to dealing with much larger companies rather than small businesses like ours.

“We wanted a company that would better understand the needs of a small business and importantly the industry that we are in. JFN was a much better fit with this so we decided to do a three-month trial on Twitter.

“We continued looking after our Facebook page ourselves but handed over the day-to-day management of Twitter to Alex Higgs at JFN. I have to admit I was sceptical to start with as I wasn’t sure how it would work having someone that didn’t actually work in the shop posting on social media.

“However Alex and I chatted through what I wanted to achieve from the arrangement – things like getting more local followers and traffic to our shop, promoting our new coffee brand to customers as well as to other trade customers, and so on. So far so good!

“We let Alex know of events and products we are promoting in the shop so they can be promoted on Twitter. We have extended the contract and will continue to monitor but being a small business owner, you do end up wearing too many hats! So as well as giving us a more structured and professional image for our Twitter page, it has also helped a little with time management and juggling all the day-to-day jobs.”

Organic everything

Established in 1999, Organically Speaking started out as a vegetable box scheme delivering locally in Hampshire.

The shop in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, was opened in 2004 and today sells a growing range of organic fruit and veg, hampers, skincare, vitamins and organic groceries, dairy, meat and fish. There’s a kitchen accessories and household section and the store is part of the Ecover Refill Scheme.

“Many of the products that we sell are from small producers,” says Jess. “We deal with organic farmers for a wide selection of our meat and vegetables within a 25-mile radius of the shop.”

Organically Speaking on Twitter: @OrganicSpeaking

Organically Speaking on Facebook: Organically Speaking

JFN Productions social media team: [email protected]

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