Davolio launched her confectionery business Lavolio four years ago when she had the idea to create a new kind of sweet. The concept involves a thin sugar shell as a preservative, but it’s what’s inside that counts – nuts, chocolate, real fruit pieces, spices, coffee, and vegetarian jelly ingredients mean the brand has a lot of textures on offer, as well as flavours. The confectionery is then packaged in handmade, sophisticated boxes. It’s the whole package. The business went from humble beginnings to being stocked in Fortnum & Masons and being sold across Europe in just four short years, partly with the help of Amazon Marketplace. Now she has opened her first high street sweet store. We caught up with Davolio to hear her story. How did you start selling your product? I started selling at food markets around London, and after a few months I was doing 13 different markets. That’s the first time I saw people buying my products, and it’s where I also found my first stockist – we are still supplying them today. I went from food markets to supplying delicatessens and boutiques. I had six stores selling my product, then 40, then I started supplying Fortnum & Masons. I guess that was a turning point for my business, because it gave us a lot of credibility. Now we are in about 400 stores around the country. We also started selling online directly to the customers. We built the website and people started ordering and we noticed a lot of recurring customers as well. Now we’re also opening our first store in Parsons Green, so we took a path that was the other way around than most people, and so we have become really multi-channel. What’s the difference between selling on your own website and selling on Amazon Marketplace? The great thing about Amazon is that it does the fulfilment for us. If we only had our website, we’d literally be picking and packing boxes probably more than 24 hours a day. Picking and packing is quite stressful and unsustainable as we grow. It’s also more convenient for the customer to just click a button and get the box delivered with Amazon Prime. What are the main advantages of Amazon Marketplace? It’s a very credible market, and it’s so widely used – it’s the market leader in terms of reach. It has also enabled us to start selling in different geographies and nothing has really changed for us except, for example, adding some German labels for the German market. Everything else is the same – we ship the stock to the fulfilment centre in the UK. How do you make sure you get noticed on such a large website? As with every marketplace there is competition, so the difficult thing is to give visibility to your products. We’re a small business so we don’t really advertise, but I’ve discovered that the more people that buy your product the more your product becomes visible. It’s like a snowball effect. If people keep buying your product, you increase in rank and the more you’re highly ranked the more you’re on top of the page, so that’s kind of how it worked for us. We have organically been able to increase sales and visibility thanks to our customers buying our products. What would your advice be to a business looking to start selling online? I think the most important thing you can do is to have a really fantastic product, something that speaks for itself. The only way to get people to come back to you is if you have a really remarkable “wow” product, and you know people will leave good reviews and come back for more.
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