Continuing our Start Your Own series, we interviewed Joe Cooper, co-founder of Buy Whole Foods Online to find out what it takes to start your on own online health business.
Tell us a bit about Buy Whole Foods Online – what is it and what can we expect to find there?
Buy Whole Foods Online (BWFO), is a family run business that was founded just 10 years ago by cousins Joe (me) and Arthur. When we started out all we sold was Goji Berries which were very specialist at the time and our office was a garden shed. Now we have a brand new warehouse & stock over 500 different products.
Our range varies from every day wholefood staples like nuts & seeds, to some weird and wonderful herbs and super foods, and we are always looking for new products. We try to be a one-stop shop for all health & wholefoods, and our customers love our range.
What inspired you to start Buy Whole Foods Online?
What really inspired us to start Buy Whole Foods Online is that there was a lack of health foods online at the time. Living and eating healthily has always been very important to us, but unless you lived near a local wholefood shop there wasn’t much you could do. So we decided to start Buy Whole Foods Online to make healthy living easier, and bring natural food to more people.
That being said we are huge supporters of and love local independent wholefoods stores as they are a tradition of the industry, and we often supply to them, and do what we can to help them out.
What skills did you come to the business with already?
When we started, Arthur had worked in health food shops since he was 16 and I in the digital marketing industry with websites and computers, so we both brought something to the table, without which Buy Whole Foods Online would not have been possible. We needed Arthur’s product and industry knowledge and my marketing and web design knowhow.
Digital technologies have always been a huge part of our business, and we are always looking for new and innovative ways to grow Buy Whole Foods Online, and improve the user experience.
How have bloggers helped you grow your brand?
Bloggers and influencers are a huge part of our business and the industry as a whole. For us they have helped us to build our brand to what it is today by helping spread the word about our brand name, identity, range & quality to potential new customers. Influencers are invaluable as their followers respect & value their options and views.
Bloggers and influencers have played a massive part in the driving force behind this healthy revolution we are in the middle of.
No matter how many followers they have, 100 or 100 million, their passion for healthy living is vital for the healthy movement, and making people more aware of their health and the world around them.
We are very excited to work with bloggers and influencers of all sizes. We see it as mutually beneficial as we want to help them grow their brand and profile, while they are helping spread the word about Buy Whole Foods Online.
What’s the most challenging thing about setting up your own online shop business?
The most challenging thing is keeping faith in the first few months and years. It’s the toughest time for any small business, but as long as you keep the faith and are willing to accept some small losses, grow and adapt, anything is possible. Don’t expect to make much money in the first year or two (if you do, then that’s a bonus!) and be prepared to do everything yourself at the start.
If you need to learn how to do accounts or business planning then do that, as it will be invaluable in the first few years. It can mean some sleepless nights, long hours & some hair pulling, but once you get it right, there is no feeling like it.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started?
We don’t really have anything specific. If we hadn’t done things the way we did, including making mistakes along the way, we may not have built the business as well as we did! It also means we have learnt a massive amount along the way which we can now apply going forwards.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting to create their own online wholesaler?
Our advice to anyone starting a new online business is to know your niche and audience. It is such a competitive industry, but if you find what you are good at, and do it better than anyone else and focus on that, you will have greater success than if you try to take on everything at once. That is exactly how we started with goji berries, which were hard to find at the time. We gradually grew the business from there.
Also make connections as much as you can, as the right connections can really help your company grow. And always be willing to help others, as they may be able to help you in return.
Watch a video about Buy Whole Foods Online here.
If you are a blogger and would be interested in working with Buy Wholefoods Online please get in contact with Buy Whole Foods Digital Marketing Executive Aedan Kiernan on the contact details below.