COVID’s impact on small businesses is well-documented, but you don’t have to show Australian candymakers David King and Rachel Turner the statistics. The married couple’s Sydney candy shop, Sticky, almost became one of them. Founded in 2001, Sticky handmakes colorful hard candy with flare and drama while crowds of customers watch—and buy. When the global pandemic drove shoppers away, the brand’s candy artisans lost both their audience...and their customers. That’s when the couple’s teenaged daughter, Annabelle, came to the rescue. A TikTok user, Annabelle knew the shop’s popular candy-making performances would play well with the video platform’s young users. The process is colorful and highly visual; the shop’s youthful candymakers know how to play to the camera. She lobbied her father to create short, fun videos for TikTok so they could replace the in-person audience they lost to COVID restrictions with a virtual one. “Dad, you have to start a TikTok, what we do would work so well on TikTok,” Annabelle told Australian media outlet The Feed . “I had to hassle him so much, I had to say, ‘dad, dad, make it, make it, make it.’ He gave up one day and he let me do it.” King was smart to listen to his daughter. Her plan succeeded in ways even she couldn’t have foreseen. When “Candy” performer Snoop Dogg shared one of Sticky’s candy- making videos on another visual platform, Instagram, his followers responded. About 1.5 million of them began following the StickyLollies Instagram account almost overnight. Within four months, the company also had 2.1 million TikTok followers and more than 30 million video views. A STICKY SITUATION
The exploding international fan base created unprecedented global demand for the candy—a situation that was both sweet and sour, since the company wasn’t prepared for the unexpected surge. “Over the past year, we have gone from 10 online weekly orders to 600. We sell out of everything we make each week—about 400 kilograms (881 pounds),” says Turner, who handles logistics and shipping. And this is no Amazon operation, she points out—all orders are hand-picked and boxed. The owners had to make significant changes, starting with their e-commerce shopping cart and fulfillment. “Our major investment in automation has been integration of a more sophisticated shopping cart into our website,” says Turner. Implementing a custom- built site “has enabled us to pivot quickly to our exponential increase in sales,” she adds. Global expansion included leasing almost 900 square feet of additional space to fill and process online orders. On any given day, seven days a week, two to four people pick, pack, and ship orders or assemble gift boxes and treat bags. One significant challenge remains, though: Product sells out within hours of availability. As a result, the company is expanding both its fulfillment and candy-making capacity yet again. “It will be nice to have our product available for more than a few hours each week,” Turner says. That sounds pretty sweet.
134 Inbound Logistics • January 2022
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