2020 was tough and weird. You already know that. Our business struggled like many others.
While it’s easy to blame COVID, the reality is that the pandemic is responsible for part of the blame.
There are a few fundamental issues with our business that caught up to us in late 2019 and all 2020. I’ll explore each in depth below.
First, what went well?
Online Sales Growth
I committed to growing our online sales in 2020. Then I doubled down when COVID hit in March.
There are incredible logistical issues shipping frozen food across Canada. It’s expensive and difficult to keep things frozen during transport.
As such, we’ve had a hard time balancing our costs (COGS) with pricing. We also struggle to communicate our value proposition to new guests.
Feedback is twofold:
- We are too expensive to justify a first (trial) purchase. It’s a lot to ask a stranger to pay 100-160 for bone broth that they’ve never tried before.
- Concerns that they do not have freezer space to fit 6 or 12 pouches.
We’ve worked hard to address these objections, but they still carry weight. We have more changes that I’ll be announcing very shortly that bust these objections for good.
With these constraints, online grew significantly throughout the year. Not only in total numbers but as a percentage of total revenue.
- Q1: Online = 6% total sales
- Q2: Online = 19% total sales
- Q3: Online = 17.5% total sales
- Q4: Online = 24% total sales
We Addressed Two Massive Issues
I spent most of my time developing some new products and getting them ready to launch. The goal was to have both ready for April and September respectively. But COVID… yada yada..
Our main issue is a slight lack of product-market fit.
This is business speak for not having the right mix of product offerings for your ideal consumer.
It’s a big problem. If you don’t have it, you go out of business.
But one I’ve spent most of 2020 thinking about and taking action on.
How can we adjust the products we offer to make them more suitable and enticing to more people?
Our product innovation is directly addressing product-market fit.
We soft launched one new product line at a few select retail partners in December.
The other new product you can pre-order here.
It launches next month and it’s already selling like crazy. You’ll want to try some before we sell out. It’s on sale at 15% discount until Jan 15.
The other issue is planning our online growth
I’ve invested a ton into content marketing and SEO in 2020. It’s working. Our traffic exploded in December.
The problem: most of the traffic growth and 50% of our total traffic comes from the US.
Currently, I have nothing to sell my friends from America.
Despite the phone calls and emails I get every day, I can’t ship to them.
It’s expensive and difficult to export our frozen bone broth to the USA market.
I’ll have more news to report soon. Be sure to subscribe to our email list for updates in Feb/March.
I’m seeing early success and leading indicators that my innovation work is going to pay off. We have way more interest from large grocery store chains than ever before. We landed one and are in talks with a few others.
What Didn’t Go So Well
Retail Sales Down vs. 2019
COVID left a huge hole in our total revenue for 2020. Retail shopping has changed forever. Shoppers do not explore stores the way they used to. And we rely on exploratory shopping for consumers to find us in the freezer.
Retail sales were down a ton for us between March-August. Our usual summer sales decrease, combined with COVID, made things difficult to manage.
They finally recovered in Sept-December (thank goodness). Retail is different now. We’re going to adjust to thrive despite it.
Product Launch Delays
We were supposed to release one new product in April and two others in September. We missed these by a wide margin. Sure, COVID is certainly to blame for one of them, the others I learned a lot from.
A couple of high level goals that are guiding Bluebird in 2021.
1. Online sales at 35% of total revenue.
This really changes the scope and strategy of our business and will be challenging as we expand into more grocery stores.
2. Land at least 1 tier 1 conventional grocery store chain
There are a few big ones in Canada. We need to land our products into one this year.
3. Launch our new product line into the US market
Pretty self explanatory. The USA will help us achieve goal #1. Further, it increases the upside of our business.
That’s it from me. Thanks for reading and thanks for continuing to support my small business.
We’re a tiny operation. I’m grateful for every sale or referral you give us. It means the world to me.