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PR: Digital and logistics paired up to save small businesses from corona closure


With coronavirus having an effect on all businesses, a partnership between two businesses in Kent aims to give the smaller ones a chance at survival that they didn't have before.
It's already saved one firm from corona closure - with 150 people kept in jobs and is an e-commerce website from one company, paired with logistics and distribution from another.
It's making this usually complicated system accessible to those who want to sell online but haven't got distribution, enabling them to get back into business or pick up, plus compete with the larger companies that do already have logistics.

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Sarah Hawes

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70-year-old family farming business saved by online shop and new sales model

How do you save a 70-year-old family business that can't sell to its commercial customers?
Build a new website in a week that links online sales with the logistics side for delivery, and service the domestic market instead of the commercial one.

This is what Watts Farms did after coronavirus lockdown left them with warehouses full of food and drink at its 10 sites across Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.
Due to the food service industry grinding to a halt, restaurants, hotels and schools were cancelling their orders, so the £400,000 stockpile of food was looking like it was going to waste and 150 jobs would be at risk with such a huge loss.

They needed to do something and fast, and so they turned to digital experts Kayo based in Kent and asked for the usually impossible - a website in a week to start selling online to the domestic market - to save the stockpile and keep their staff in jobs.

Whilst the website was being built, Watts Farms was working on delivery logistics, using their vans and staff for home deliveries rather than commercial ones.
The website links their e-commerce and logistics, ensuring full automation.

Kayo's Managing Director Richard Pilton, said: "Currently, the large companies are monopolising online sales because they have the ability to sell online and deliver. We wanted to give smaller businesses the opportunity to do just that and open again."

A month after thinking their family business might be facing collapse, 14,000 orders have been taken via the website. The initial £400,00 stockpile was saved, plus more has been ordered in and sold on top, with the online sales their sole route to market now.
2,000 orders were taken in the first fortnight, worth £100,000.

Customers included supermarkets with higher demands and local people unable to get to the supermarkets, find what they needed or unwilling to go out.
The business, jobs and stock were saved and with the sudden diversification opening up a whole new market for the company which will be taken forward post-lockdown alongside the commercial side when it picks up again.

Ed Grey, Director of Watts Farms, said: "During the coronavirus outbreak, I saw that our trade foodservice business was dropping off a cliff with restaurants closing and seeing the panic buying that was happening at the supermarkets I wanted to sell my products online to help and prevent loss of jobs.

"I contacted Kayo with the request fully expecting them to tell me it would take a month but within a week we had the website up. We tested it and made changes and were very happy - we had transformed our business!

"Not only does the new website provide a valuable resource for people to buy their food shopping, it's also helping the business stay afloat during these difficult times and ensures our team of staff stay in their jobs which is an incredible news."

Kayo has now added the package to its services -suitably named The Garden of England.

Managing Director Richard Pilton, said: "After working with Watts Farms, we realised that some businesses needed not only a website, but logistics too. We're in unprecedented times where some companies are being forced to be storage companies due to them being unable to sell or deliver their goods. This needed to change.
"When we emerge from isolation they'll have taken a big leap in going digital - something they may not have thought of before or were hesitant in doing; they've now been pushed.
"We spoke with logistics experts Alan Firmin to see if it was possible and we are now able to offer websites with a click and delivery system in place, online store, payment gateway and fully accessible on mobile, tablet or desktop.
"We can also provide an app alongside it too."

The reductions are made possible by smaller businesses sharing deliveries with others - instead of setting up their own logistics.
It's better for the environment too - less journeys will be made with less of an impact.

A spokesman for Alan Firmin, said: "Farming is part of our heritage, so we are pleased to be involved with a project that was an offshoot of an idea that saved a fellow farming company.
"Kayo's approach to helping get businesses back up and running is inspired and by partnering with us, not only will they have the online sales platform they need, but also the distribution network too.
"It's not something we've done before but when Kayo asked us, we thought it would be good to be involved.
"We can now work with clients we may not have had the opportunity to meet before, offering them a great deal on logistics; growing their business and ours too."



The website can be viewed here:

Kayo, Watts Farms and Alan Firmin are each available for further comment or information - please request via Sarah Hawes at Izzy PR:
07748 631100

An image of Kayo's MD Richard Pilton is included for use, along with their logo too.


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