5 Minutes With...

Bee Dee Bags

 

Name: Cain Gawne  Role: General Manager 

Years exhibiting with Reed Gift Fairs: 25+ years

Product specialty: Custom printed retail packaging

One word to describe what you do: Packaging

About Your Business

 

Describe what you do in 5 words: 

Custom printed retail packaging conveniently. 

 

Our customers love our business because... 

… our team provide experienced advice on customization of branded retail packaging.

 

What makes your business different to others who share the same audience as you?

Exceptional personalized customer service and the largest range in the country. 

 

Something we might not know but will be glad found out about you/your business: 

As well as custom printed & unprinted stock packaging &, Bee Dee Bags also has NaturalPak, our food packaging branch, which can also be custom printed and branded. 

Retail Right Now

What is the most significant change to happen to your business from the impacts of COVID-19?

Bee Dee Bags has been extremely lucky throughout the covid-19 pandemic and we have managed to continue to remain open and trading during the pandemic, outside of the imposed lock downs. We felt it was important to continue to operate whenever possible to support businesses, particularly those in the food and retail industry that were diversifying to takeaway and online trading to keep their businesses and livelihoods moving forward in the face of some really tough, and trying times for businesses across the country.

During the height of the pandemic earlier in the year, our main focus was to try and support our staff and customers in any way we could. We were affected by the huge delays in shipping and as the exchange rate fluctuated, we had to ride that uncertainty out with the rest of the country - but we managed to continue to move forward and used the time to regroup and refocus on what Bee Dee Bags would look like in the “new normal” world post lockdown.

 

What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in your customers over the past 12months?

2020 has obviously been a very challenging time for business, not just in Australia, but all over the world. As the pandemic hit the country, many businesses were adapting to trading as takeaway or online only stores, which meant that we saw a huge swing in the type of packaging that our customers needed. Many face-to-face stores had to quickly move to online trading, as well as cafés who didn’t previously have a takeaway option, quickly had to change their approach to sales to allow them to continue to trade. We found that customers were looking not just for new types of packaging, but also education on how packaging can be used in new or different ways.

 

How has 2020 – the year that was - changed your perception toward what you do/how you operate?

With all the changes in the retail and takeaway marketplace Bee Dee Bags were very lucky that we were uniquely placed to be able to assist many of our customers with their transition to an online or takeaway platform and supply them with the retail and food packing that they needed to continue to move forward.

We have always had a safety first approach at Bee Dee Bags, but certainly, in the face of the covid pandemic, we had to really reinforce that safety culture within the company. We rapidly implemented social distancing policies to ensure that our staff were able to operate safely under the covid restrictions, as well as ensure the health and wellbeing of both our staff and customers.

Operating under these types of restrictions was a bit foreign to the team, as we were used to being a tight knit community and being able to meet face-to-face with each other and with our customers. We certainly leant a lot about video conferencing and have become very good at holding online meetings!

On a positive note, the best thing by far to come out of the pandemic from a Bee Dee Bags perspective, is that it has highlighted to me just how amazing, versatile and resilient the Bee Dee Bags team really are, and how much the team can rally and pull together in a crisis. As the General Manager for Bee Dee Bags, I am incredibly proud of our team and how they handled themselves and supported their customers and their community during such uncertain and volatile circumstances. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with! 

How has 2020 – the year that was - changed your perception toward what you do/how you operate?

With all the changes in the retail and takeaway marketplace Bee Dee Bags were very lucky that we were uniquely placed to be able to assist many of our customers with their transition to an online or takeaway platform and supply them with the retail and food packing that they needed to continue to move forward.

We have always had a safety first approach at Bee Dee Bags, but certainly, in the face of the covid pandemic, we had to really reinforce that safety culture within the company. We rapidly implemented social distancing policies to ensure that our staff were able to operate safely under the covid restrictions, as well as ensure the health and wellbeing of both our staff and customers.

Operating under these types of restrictions was a bit foreign to the team, as we were used to being a tight knit community and being able to meet face-to-face with each other and with our customers. We certainly leant a lot about video conferencing and have become very good at holding online meetings!

On a positive note, the best thing by far to come out of the pandemic from a Bee Dee Bags perspective, is that it has highlighted to me just how amazing, versatile and resilient the Bee Dee Bags team really are, and how much the team can rally and pull together in a crisis. As the General Manager for Bee Dee Bags, I am incredibly proud of our team and how they handled themselves and supported their customers and their community during such uncertain and volatile circumstances. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with! 

Your Thoughts On...

The creative process behind what you do/how you stay inspired:

I am constantly looking for ways to be innovative and we are very passionate about the environment, so we have shifted our focus to finding and developing new, environmentally friendly, retail packaging.

I find inspiration in everyday items that most people wouldn’t think twice about, like a coffee cup, the bag that the last item you bought came in or the wrapping paper that your birthday present was wrapped in. Most people may look at these things for a few seconds and think, that’s handy or pretty, but when I look at it, and I’m trying to envision how we will develop the product to be improved and environmentally friendly. I am lucky to be supported by an incredibly creative and talented team, they also keep me inspired to keep innovating and creating new products and lines to meet our customer’s needs.

 

Resilience:

Resilience is a key element to any business, especially in the face of such challenging and uncertain times. To continue to move forward, a company and their staff need to have a level of resilience to overcome challenges as they arise. It’s great to have plans and to follow that path but I think it’s also important to retain a level of agility and to have the ability to shift with times as circumstances change.  As the country singer Jimmy Dean once said “I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Resilience and attitude make all the difference!

 

The secrets to getting a customer to return for more:
Quality products and quality service. The big difference between us and many of our competitors is our people. We have a great team, who are there to help customers with advice, information, ideas and just someone to talk to when you have questions - rather than having to send an email, or completing a contact form online which goes to an unknown person. The reason our customers return is because we deliver quality products and customer service, we show that we are not just there for a sale, we are genuinely there to support them.

Looking Forward

What is your #1 bestseller that we need to know about?

Brown Kraft Paper Bag. These bags are not just trendy; they are a versatile, reusable, environmentally friendly bag that fits many different retail settings. It’s our customers favorite “go to” range of bags.

 

What is the key element of a successful trade event?

Good crowds, great atmosphere & lots of preparation and planning.

We love seeing our customers come back to visit us every year and hearing about what has changed in their business whilst showcasing our new products and just having a chance to meet people face-to-face. It’s always great to sit and talk to a customer, walk them through some options, show them samples and hopefully inspire them and help them to learn how they can customize their retail packaging. On top of that our key ingredient is having the right team on the floor.

 

What are your observations on the challenges/and opportunities ahead for our industry in the retail recovery process?

I feel the recovery from covid for the retail industry may be a slow but steady one. As the country begins to come out of lock downs to get back into the swing of things, there will still be restrictions and social distancing requirements for businesses to contend with, which may mean reduced foot traffic; specifically for some of the bigger shopping centers and chain stores as people try to avoid the crowds. This could be good news for the smaller, boutique independent stores as shoppers may start to look for retailers located closer to home, with less crowds and less stress.

Another challenge we continue to face is supply disruption for shop owners as Australian retail relies heavily on imports. I would see a need for retailers to develop more flexible and resilient supply chains to consistently meet customer demands whilst also being able to cope with any future swings in the market and industry that may occur. Again, this may be a fantastic opportunity for self-made, handmade and smaller, independent retailers to boost their sales as shoppers may look to alternatives for imported products.

Obviously, there is a big opportunity and a big shift towards online retailing and takeaway food sales. In the current sales environment it’s probably ideal to have a “back up plan” if you are a bricks and mortar retailer and develop strategies so that businesses can continue to trade if there were to be another lockdown or similar pandemic event. Covid-19 has certainly been a hard lesson for us, and everyone in the retail sector to learn, but it certainly has helped us to become more strategic and resilient in terms of our supply chain and planning for future changes or delays in product supplies.  

The Final Word

The best thing about living in Australia is knowing that no matter what happens in the world, this genuinely is “the lucky country”. Australians will always band together in hard times and overcome challenges as a community. It’s just part of who we are as a nation. That’s why I still feel positive that the industry will not just survive, but we will revive and reinvent our retail sector to be a more versatile and resilient market that will grow and continue to thrive into the future. 

Bee Dee Bags supplies a large range of Stock, Custom made and printed retail packaging products; such as paper bags, plastic bags, reusable bags, postal satchels, tissue paper, wrapping paper and garment bags. 

 

Published February 2021.