Jo Macfarlane is a Scottish candle maker who dreams to export globally and crack Europe. She has a few digital challenges in her way, but here’s how she plans to overcome them and get exporting globally.
Scottish entrepreneur Jo sells her candles in boutiques, gift shops and florists and creates bespoke candles for clients such as the Fairmont Hotels, Highland Chocolatier and Scottish Hotel of the year Rufflets.
She has also started selling her candles online, and is hoping to learn how to maximise her online presence and ability to export globally at the upcoming free-to-attend Amazon Academy in Edinburgh on 23 May.
The business is based in Anstruther, on the East coast of Scotland, and so does not have same advantages to export globally that a city-based business would take for granted. However, that has not stopped Macfarlane from holding high ambitions for her business.
Here, we outline some challenges to export globally faced by Macfarlane, and how she hopes to tackle them with help from the Amazon Academy.
Gaining a global reach
Macfarlane plans to start export globally in the near future, and the world is her oyster.
Taking on new countries and trying to export products can be tricky if you’re going in on your own, but with Amazon Marketplace small business owners have a ready-made, trusted service to promote their offering to a global customer base.
The Amazon Marketplace helps level the playing field for small businesses by offering them the same global audience as well-established retailers. It’s also had proven success with UK marketplace sellers achieving over £1.8bn in exports last year through Amazon, a 29 per cent year-on-year growth.
“I am looking forward to attending the Amazon Academy to learn about growing my business online, not only in the UK but internationally,” she said.
In addition, UK sellers can sell across Amazon’s websites in a variety of different languages. This gives businesses a strong advantage, as naturally customers prefer to make purchases in languages they are familiar with.
“I am looking forward to learning about growing the business online and the opportunity of entering Europe with a service in their local language,” said Macfarlane.
“To be able to offer my customers a reliable known service in their local language is very important to me.”
Attention to detail
Taking operations overseas doesn’t just mean finding buyers – it means shipping your products to the recipients as well, and that can mean a lot of work.
Not only that, but once you factor in logistics, languages and shipping, it can become a costly enterprise
To help alleviate this pressure for its Marketplace customers, Amazon introduced Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA). FBA stores, picks, packs and delivers on behalf of the small businesses on the platform.
In other words, businesses can scale dramatically using the global network while leaving the heavy lifting, payment processing, delivery returns and customer service to Amazon. Also when a business joins FBA, their products instantly become eligible for Prime customers too, meaning faster delivery to customers.
“I am excited to learn about the fulfilment centre and the option of selling on Prime as currently all my storage is at home,” explained Macfarlane.
One of the digital challenges Macfarlane faces on a daily basis is “being flooded with digital distractions disguised as opportunities,” and perhaps many small business owners would agree with her.
It can be difficult, especially when you don’t have a tech background, to establish which tools will add value and which are too complex for a small business.
Amazon’s suite of services aim to do the leg work for you, you can plug in your business and reap the rewards. The Amazon Academy event aims to teach all SMEs how to do this, but if there are other digital challenges on your mind, you can still benefit from speaking to Amazon’s event partners.
Enterprise Nation, Scottish Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Spark will all be at the event so you can find the support you need to face any digital hurdle to your business.
There are other benefits to be gained from the event as well. For Macfarlane, one of the main reasons to attend is simple.
“I’m going to be networking and meeting like-minded business owners at the event to find out how they plan to grow their business through Amazon – it will be inspiring.”