Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Yuki Lee. I'm the co-founder of Bagitan Packaging Company - a company that produces paper packaging products in China. Our primary products are paper bags, food packaging, foil packaging, and other disposable packaging products used in restaurants and takeout meals.
Since our inception in 2008, we have expanded into a company with annual net revenue of $200,000 and over 50 employees. It has been an incredible experience working with my partner - Frank Ouyang, he created the company Panda Paper Roll (see the story here), and we have learned many lessons along the way. I hope our experiences will be helpful to other entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business in China.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The backstory of Bagitan Packaging was interesting: we have been in the thermal paper rolls business since 2010. With the expansion of our business, many of our customers asked for "paper bags," "disposable food packaging," and other packaging products from us.
So we think: why not start the packaging business ourselves, just like we ever did in the thermal paper industry?
The most efficient way to improve yourself and your business are to learn from your competitors, do the same as them, and eventually do better than them.
We also recognized that packaging items are important in our everyday lives, such as restaurants, coffee, retail, and grocery. The consumable packaging goods industry is enormous, and it provides consistent revenue for our company. A great majority of the world's goods ship in some sort of packaging, so it behooves us to give these products to our customers. The possibilities are endless, and we're excited about the changing future of packaging.
Also, with the environment protecting factors, disposable paper packaging products would have a vast market. Our ideas eventually turned into action, and now we are proud to call ourselves the leaders in China's packaging industry.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Manufacturing our first product was easy for us because we already had experience in manufacturing thermal rolls. We bought a second-hand flexo printing machine to do the custom printing on the paper bags (our customer usually printed their logo on the paper bags, usually with 1-4 colors). We finished the following paper bag-making process (adding the handle mold). And finally, we will complete the carton packaging with our workers.
Our customers usually send the artwork of their paper bags to us, then we can let our in-house designer work on the mockup design. But we also find some freelance designers on Fiverr to work on the design for us sometimes.
We have different paper qualities for our customer’s options based on their usage; the paper types can be brown kraft paper, white kraft paper, waterproof paper, art paper, kraft board, etc.
We always send the paper packaging samples to our customers before they order us. It usually takes us 5-7 days to complete the samples and we’ll send them to our customers by international Express (DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc.). After getting the approval of our customers, we are ready to arrange the bulk order production.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Although we had some existing customers who ordered the paper bags and other paper packaging products, we still want to expand the market, especially the overseas market. So we created a new brand, "Bag". It is a made-up word that comes from the word "bag."
Continue and persevere in the SEO industry because it will give you long-term benefits.
Our brand "Bagitan" means we can "bag" everything. We applied for the trademark from the Trademark Bureau and created its website.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
SEO and Google Ads are our two powerful weapons to attract and keep online customers. SEO is a complex process. It requires 12-20 months to work on the website continuously. It is a painful process, but the result is exciting - it can drive free traffic every day to your website, even when you are sleeping.
Before your website gets a decent amount of traffic, Google Ads is a helpful tool to attract traffic and investigate the market.
We have a lot of experience with digital marketing. Our marketing department uses various tactics to assist us with our internet marketing. Some strategies include:
We use the blog platform to "teach" and share the packaging knowledge with our customers, such as some terminologies in the packaging industry. Also, we created some Infographics to make "sharing" more attractive. We are using the blog to track all our new projects, packaging ideas, and remember the wonderful experiences that we had with customers.
Social media marketing is essential for businesses. We use our brand to reach customers through various platforms. Since we have a lot of experience in the industry, we know the basics of SEO. Our marketing team is trying to apply all tactics to our website.
Since some of our existing customers are large companies, we send regular emails to notify them of sales, new products, and relevant updates.
SEO (search engine optimization)
We have a reliable SEO team that optimizes our website, including online and offline optimization. Our website needs to rank on the top page in Google and other search engines.
Our SEO starts from competitors' analysis. We found out the top 10 competitors in the packaging industry on Google, then we will analyze the keywords, traffic, domain rating, popular content, etc. from every website. After that, we will do the "reverse engineering": we will duplicate the same work as them and gradually do even better than them.
We monitor our website traffic by using Google Analytics and make outbound marketing campaigns to increase the number of visitors, leads, and conversions. It allows us to make real-time changes to our technique to expand our site's performance.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our business is good now, and we think it will be better in the future. The most beautiful part of the packaging business is that paper packaging products are consumable and used every day in the world. When the products are used out, our customers will order the products from us again. It can create repeatable business and constant profit for us.
Our goal is to have a 200% increase in revenue by 2025. To achieve our objectives, we will continuously invest in our business and develop high-quality products. This is like how we built our business ten years ago.
We plan to expand the product line and enter more global markets. We will also invest in technology (such as automatic production machines to reduce labor costs). We will build a more efficient and growing business.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The most important thing we learned through starting the business is to persist. We only had less than ten customers when we started our paper packaging business. After ten years, we now have over 100 customers in the world. The process is challenging, but we are always persisting in the industry.
With digital marketing, you also require persistence. SEO is a long, complex process. You need to learn new skills, get rid of old habits, and focus on the long-term benefits of digital marketing. Our advice is to continue and persevere in the SEO industry because it will give you long-term benefits.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use WordPress and Cloudflare for our business. WordPress is a free CMS to build a website to share industry insights and knowledge with our customers. Cloudflare is very good at CDN (content distribution network), which can help distribute the website content worldwide to increase the speed of our website.
Another tool we use is Fiverr, we use it to find some designers to do the design work. Our customers always want to have a paper bag or paper packaging mockup before they place the order to us. We can let the designers do the mockup for us easily and efficiently.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice for other entrepreneurs is: learn from your competitors. The most efficient way to improve yourself and your business are to learn from your competitors, do the same as them, and eventually do better than them.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below, maybe we can discuss the packaging industry or online marketing ideas.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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