Running an ecommerce business is tough. It’s even more difficult when the products you ship include live bees. In this instance, accuracy and efficiency in order tracking and team communication are key.
Crown Bees recognizes these challenges all too well. A year ago, the company ran most of their operations using unorganized spreadsheets. But they found a tool that integrates all their functions in one dashboard. This allows them to save time, better serve customers, and strive toward their eco-friendly mission. Learn more about Crown Bees and how they overcame this common business challenge below.
What the Business Does
Sells healthy hole-nesting bees and a variety of bee-raising supplies along with quality support and educational programs to ensure customer success
Specifically, the online store includes live mason and leafcutter bees, supplies, equipment, and bee houses.
Connecting people to nature by educating customers about sustainable bee-raising and pollination practices
Crown Bees has been part of the industry for more than a decade and is dedicated to helping customers succeed. In addition to their products, they provide research-based educational resources to help its customers become successful beekeepers. Ultimately, Crown Bees is striving to achieve its vision of living in a society in balance with nature where more plants and food are produced through natural pollination by solitary bees.
How the Business Got Started
To provide an eco-friendly solution to increase food production.
Founder Dave Hunter started the company back in 2009. He wanted to help build a future where food production keeps up with population growth naturally. Troubled by the current honeybee collapse, he researched the need to diversify pollination. And eventually more people began realizing the impact they could have on the environment in their own backyards.
Crown Bees basically created the industry. So they’re recognized as leaders in beekeeping supplies and education.
Working toward their mission.
Every year, Crown Bees gets to help gardeners raise hundreds of thousands of solitary bees. This allows them to increase bee populations, ultimately leading to more pollination and more food.
Crown Bees used to utilize G-Suite and huge spreadsheets to track customer data. But this left the company with some communication issues. They never knew who had updated which documents. And this led to wasted time and loss of accuracy.
Karl Alexander, marketing director for Crown Bees said, “When dealing with live animals, accountability, timeliness, and accurate data are crucial.”
Integrate tools into one platform.
Since tracking order fulfillment is especially important when dealing with live bees, Alexander decided to improve accuracy by changing tactics. Instead of relying on huge spreadsheets, he began looking for a tool that integrated multiple functions.
He ended up finding a solution with a familiar provider — Zoho.
Crown Bees already used Zoho Projects. But they were unaware that they could cover so many other functions with Zoho One.
Alexander says, “I focused on looking for tools that integrated and I honestly didn’t think I’d find them all in one place until I looked into Zoho.”
Once they implemented Zoho One, they started seeing improvements within a month. The company uses Campaigns, CRM, Desk, Analytics, and MarketingHub heavily to automate their marketing, sales, and customer service. They also use various other tools like Projects, Cliq, WorkDrive, and Forms.
Alexander adds, “Our efficiency has drastically increased since everything is now automated and unified, creating an incredible difference and streamlined company processes.”
Expanding their wholesale business.
The wholesale section of Crown Bees’ website has nearly doubled in sales in recent years. They’re also considering subscription models where customers can essentially rent bees.
All of this is made easier by the automation and organization they enjoy with Zoho One.
Alexander says, “We especially like working with Zoho because they’re always innovating—it’s almost like Zoho knows what our business needs before we do and it’s changed how we do business completely.”
Images: Crown Bees
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Annie: Is the company selling their products and services on an international scale? I educated beekeeper students on digital marketing and social media activities, back in the day. It was fascinating to see the potential with honey products, drawing parallels from other products, e.g., chocolate.
While we do mail products (not bees) internationally with FedEx, our focus has been to solidify our position in the US and then began helping new regions globally with this same “customer support” model. Solitary bees are found worldwide!
We are currently working with university partners to create curriculum for various grade levels. Teaching about bee diversity is relatively new to a world that thinks all bees create honey. …when in reality about 10 species of 20,000 bee species produce honey. 🙂
Thanks for reaching out!
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