While the pandemic did bring about a slew of new challenges for the industry to hurdle, it also introduced new solutions to help businesses grow. Through this adversity, many small businesses have linked arms through B2B e-commerce channels, forming a network that allows suppliers to expand their distribution reach and retailers to diversify their portfolio of local offerings. Among these providers is Hen of the Woods, whose leaders recently shared how this could evolve the industry’s future.
“For the small businesses that don’t necessarily have a national footprint yet, these B2B e-commerce channels give them the opportunity to become available nationwide overnight,” explains Nick Marckwald, Chief Executive Officer and Founder. “Depending on who the online wholesaler is, there are also opportunities for free or partially paid shipping. Most of them have competitive negotiated shipping rates as well, so suppliers are able to send their products to new markets that may not have been accessible before.”
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Hen of the Woods has taken advantage of these benefits, shipping its artisan kettle chips as far as Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada.
Starting off as a potential restaurant plan, the three chefs at the helm have evolved their concept to create the snacking brand known today for its wide variety of delicious chips, dips, seasonings, and chocolate. With the help of B2B e-commerce sites, Hen of the Woods has expanded its reach to more than 1,300 retail locations from coast to coast and is looking forward to future growth.
As Brady DeLong tells me during our conversation, by utilizing these B2B services, the company, as well as many other small businesses, are able to become competitive in the food and retail sectors.
“Having these outlets available creates a landscape where smaller businesses can actually contend with larger chains,” says Chief Operating Officer and Sales and Marketing Manager Brady. “They also allow for a direct line of communication with us, the brand, and we pride ourselves on our customer service for our small independent accounts.”
Likewise, these channels have provided Hen of the Woods with better access to a wide array of retail outlets due to how products are shipped and the quantities in which they can be ordered.
“We get all of their orders out same day using several different shipping models,” Brady continues. “Not only do we direct ship, but we fulfill local delivery ourselves. There’s obviously a lot that goes into it, but these networks are offering valuable resources to us as well as giving local retailers access to our products as if they were a larger national group without having to order on the large scale that might be required from other distributors.”
In addition to increased access to new markets and control of its shipping and inventory, in utilizing these B2B outlets, Jason Dranschak, Chief Financial Officer, Production Manager, and Logistics Manager, explains that they also create the opportunity for greater profits.
“Small businesses working together allows them to have that extra capital to grow their business, and to hire more employees. They can be thriving instead of having to cut down on margins,” he says. “This is especially crucial in a time when all of the prices across the board for raw materials and shipping have continued to go up. You’re able to trim some of that fat and use that money elsewhere in the business.”
In turn, as Jason continues to tell me, this gives companies like Hen of the Woods the ability to price their products in a way where they can retain as much profit as possible while offering the best possible price to buyers.
All in all, as companies like Hen of the Woods and other small businesses have jumped on board with these B2B outlets, new opportunities for growth have continued to sprout up, leaving the question of how these channels with evolve moving forward.
What’s next for Hen of the Woods and B2B retail platforms? Stick with Deli Market News to find out.