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Reply To: Hi there,We are a small bespoke manufacturing business in the Bay or Islands that make quality wooden children’s furniture primarily for the Early Childhood sector but also primary schools and private homes.Our products have always been in the higher price bracket due to them being made well, with care with good quality materials.  Thankfully our products are known and loved but those that have purchased them but we have found gaining new business slow, especially tapping into the new build market for ECE centres to do full fit outs.We are in really competitive market and have found business a struggle even before Covid-19.  Now we are more concerned that the education sector, especially the many privately owned businesses, will be very stretched financially and that choosing NZ made quality products will be a hard choice over other needs in the business.  We would be very grateful to hear any advice, business strategies to keep up interest, promoting sales and generally how keep our business afloat in these tough times.Many thanks,SianHebe Natural Children’s Furniture(09) 4025020   info@hebe.kiwi.nz    hebe.kiwi.nz

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Kia ora Sian,
Some great advice so far. Just a couple of additional thoughts from me.

Market:
The products looks great. I’d also look into the idea of going direct to consumer (in addition to your early childhood institutions). Leslie mentioned Facebook and Google ads and ability to target parents… No reason you can’t be doing that. You’d also want to look at end-to-end eCommerce experience if you do that. No point in paying to send interested people to your site if you’re site isn’t converting. You have a great looking website – but it’s not really set-up for eCommerce. There’s some great and low cost options out there (e.g. Shopify) and you may be able to set up a front-to-back test just using a small number of products (see below). Also, as suggest by others, if you do feel like you’re losing sales (pre Covid-19) – you need to understand why, and ensure that’s not an impediment to a move to direct to market.

Product
You mention shipping costs. Are you shipping fully assembled pieces or flatpacks? My assumption is you’re doing flatpack product design… It seems to be the standard approach these days.
It’s worth doing some work to segment your product lines. Can you identify products that could be hot sellers and that can be produced and shipped on a single unit basis, at a competitive price and at a decent margin? Think 80-20. Chances are 80% of your gross margin could come from 20% of a highly optimised product line.

‘Hope that’s useful. Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn. Kia kaha!