Our digital journey really began when we set up Curry On Cooking in 2016 and we had to create a website. The idea to sell pre-packed curry kits to British expats came to fruition when my sister Nilam moved to Spain and realised that she missed having a decent curry. To fill the gap, we began blending and selling spice mixes, which in turn led me to give up my career in the media as a BBC TV radio producer.
Technology plays a key part in the day to day running of Curry On Cooking and in our personal and business communications. Using digital platforms is a priority for a fledging business like ours as we export and sell abroad as well as in the UK. Daily communication between us is imperative as Curry On Cooking is based in the UK and Spain.
We have a digital shop front, an ecommerce website with a multi-currency platform and growing social media presence which includes Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube Channel. All this was new to us, but this virtual shop front allows us to reach a larger international customer base with low overheads, and experiment to showcase our brand. Digital mobility gives us the freedom to get ourselves in front of people and helps us to sell to retailers and wholesalers through third party online marketplaces.
Having a business based in two countries means that we’ve had to move away from traditional methods of running an office. In its place we have created a cloud-based remote office where we use CRM, social media manager accounting and filing systems, eliminating the need for physical storage.
We are on a constant learning journey to better understand the concept of running a digital business and how it relates to our current operations. One of the hardest challenges for a small enterprise is keeping up with the non-stop changes in the digital world. We must constantly assess the content we create, and how customers find and interact with us.
Being a business owner is not just about selling products. We have had to learn a whole new set of skills to work across different platforms, which at times can be a bit overwhelming, bewildering and frustrating. We have had to get to grips with and become mini experts in WordPress, Woo Commerce, videography, photography, algorithms and analytical data, and we have had to learn how to write content suitable for social media.
It’s fun coming up with new content, as it allows our sense of humour to shine through. Originally, we believed the brand would sell itself. However, we found customers responded to us through our story, as The Spice Sisters, and love being part of our journey on social media. As a result, we changed the way we produced our cookery videos. We now front the films ourselves and feature family members, including Mummy Spice.
As a food retailer, we understand but struggle with the challenges required to function as a successful business both in the offline and online world. We don’t have a branding, marketing or sales team behind us, nor do we have copious amounts of money to throw at buying ad spaces or sponsoring content. By offering free packaging and postage with a minimum spend online, we saw a significant jump in the number of kits purchased.
At times, it can feel fruitless and disheartening when working with non-existent marketing and advertising budgets but finding the right platform/s for your business and products takes time.
Social media is a fantastic way to promote our enterprise, and our brand, but getting the right tone and language is important. At times, it feels like you are feeding a voracious unquenchable creature with one question after another: How do you grow organic followers? How do you convert likes to buys? How do you keep up with the relentless churn of beautifully orchestrated images when you’re running a business and doing everything yourself?
The world has come a long way since the first website appeared in 1991. Today, there are well over 1.3 billion websites, 2 million blog posts and around 500 million tweets churned out on a daily basis. Against this backdrop, we would need to devote around £3,000 £10,000 per month to grow our profile; money we don’t have at such an early stage in our business development.
Instead, we have to be clever and strategic about how we get ourselves out there, including getting media coverage. Our business – and recipes – have been featured in magazine such as Vegan Living, been on BBC Radio, most recently BBC Radio Derbyshire, and will soon feature on Channel 5 (15 March 2018). What helps is taking time out to breathe and assess what type of digital output is important. This is where long term planning and strategy come into play. This is what we are still learning but have yet to get right.
Digital technology has been a real gamechanger for us. It’s changed the way we live and operate. And to survive as a business in this climate, you must evolve to keep up with new and emerging technology.
Despite the challenges, we believe that with smart planning we can reach out to anyone, anywhere in the world, and that’s exciting.
About Curry On Cooking
Curry On Cooking was launched by sisters Veena Josh and Nilam Wright in 2016. Nilam is a is a qualified hypnotherapist, optical illusion mixed media artist and fitness professional, specialising in Tai Chi, Pilates and aqua aerobics. Veena is a filmmaker and a former BBC TV and radio news and current affairs journalist. A mentor and coach, she teaches cookery and a regular cookery columnist.
Their Curry On Cooking Kits, which can be purchased from curryoncooking.com, are also are stocked in high-end delis, farm shops, garden centres and butchers nationwide, as well as in Spain and France. They have produced six kits for people who want to recreate the Great British Curry at home: Korma, Tikka Masala, Bombay Potatoes, Balti, Jalfrezi and Madras. The attractive and practical kits come with a shopping list and an easy to follow recipe. They are free from sugar, gluten, dairy, nuts, additives and preservatives and suitable for vegans.
For further details please about the kits and/or the next Curry On Cooking Indian Cookery/Retreat in April, contact Veena and Nilam via email: [email protected].