This is a follow up story for Fernweh. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Fernweh is a coffee subscription company that started in 2017. I am Courtney, the director of the company. It was my dream and vision to try different coffees from around New Zealand without being locked into a specific roaster. With that dream came Fernweh. I chose the word Fernweh as it means a longing for a far-off place. With wanting to create a longing for delicious coffee a side hustle was born.
Our flagship product is the 3 monthly Subscription, each month we partner and feature a different roaster in New Zealand. This enables our customers to drink coffee and travel around the country without leaving their homes.
From where we started 4 years ago, Fernweh has blossomed and developed into a beautiful side hustle that connects our customers with extraordinary roasters.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since starting 4 years ago the business has grown at a steady pace. We have put a lot of emphasis on SEO and Google Ads which helped boost our brand awareness and increased sales. Once our SEO was in a good place we focused on Google Ads.
With the pandemic in mind, our business skyrocketed. Since everyone had to stay home, they needed coffee. Kiwis without coffee is a disaster, so we were able to ship and provide delicious coffee for everyone stuck at home.
Each lockdown we’ve had, we have seen an increase in orders and sales. We have launched a few new products and have a plan throughout the year when we introduce new things.
The chocolate box has just launched, which is chocolate and coffee. We have partnered with a local chocolate company that has provided us with the goods. For Christmas we introduced a taster box which includes 3 different christmas coffees, these sold out last year as many people from out of country bought them as gifts since they couldn’t return home.
For new marketing strategies, we have been mainly focused on Instagram. Doing stories, posts, and interacting with our followers has helped us see a massive improvement in engagement. Posting in our journal and sending out consistent emails have also increased our sales.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
In the last year, we haven’t been too focused on marketing and have been trying to improve the consistency in which we engage with our customers. We were a part of a foodshow that took place a couple of months ago. It was great exposure however we didn’t know what to expect or how to present our unique product because a booth with just subscription boxes is boring.
With a struggling world right now, customer service is a key element. Meaning engaging with customers on a personal level has helped encourage us through the tough times.
We handed out over 2000 samples of single-origin coffee and collected emails. While the data we received is invaluable, we felt like we may have missed some opportunity to sell our subscriptions. It was hard as we didn’t know how to get people to sign up that’s why we collected email addresses and would email them information. However, we found quickly that once people leave the foodshow they often forget which companies are there as there are so many so next year we will be more prepared. It was a good learning curve because it helped us learn how the public perceives us, how different age groups react to a subscription service and what information we need to hone in on.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
This upcoming year we are planning on launching some different boxes with options. For example, the chocolate box will have some other local chocolate companies featured too but the customer can choose which one they would like. As well we are working on a new approach to our subscriptions which is our 5-year plan.
We plan to put as much choosing power into the hands of the customer so that they can choose which single origins they would like to try. Currently, we decide who we feature for the month, which has been great as there are so many roasters to choose from. Developing this on our site has proven tricky as many elements go into making it seamless.
Our short-term goal is to work on our marketing strategy for the upcoming holiday season and to start strong next year.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
My advice is to keep going no matter what. The world is tough right now and for businesses that are struggling or trying to get off the ground, it can feel discouraging. However, keep plugging along.
In a struggling world right now, customer service is a key element. Meaning engaging with customers on a personal level has helped encourage us through the tough times. Responding positively will usually dissolve a situation quicker than anger, we often see struggling companies react poorly or not at all which is unhelpful when you have customers. Also reaching out to other companies and people in the coffee industry has helped as well.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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