Aquafresh seafood rides a wave of rapid growth with the marketing power of Upstock
When Jonathan McPherson bought Aquafresh, a Nelson fresh fish processing facility and smokehouse, just over a year ago, there were bits of paper covering every desk. To grow the business, he knew it needed a digital overhaul and fast.
"I had to change for growth. Before Upstock, everything was manual, that was ok for when we were processing only twenty orders a day, but in the past year, we've grown that to hundreds a day. It would be torture without Upstock."
Jonathan cast his net wide, looking for the perfect tool to take his business to the next level. So what made Upstock stand out?
"There was a bit of competition at the time for my business. But I could see that Upstock had the strongest marketing arm to it."
As someone with a strong background in marketing, Jonathan found Upstock stood out from its competitors because it wasn't just about organising his ordering, it was also a way to showcase his products.
"I've got new customers coming on just because they see my Upstock newsfeed and start ordering. I've got food markets north of Auckland buying products regularly, and I've never even spoken to any of them. It's that simple."
Chefs who order from Aquafresh say ordering through Upstock has made their lives so much easier and improved their access to getting the freshest catch of the day.
James Rutherford, Owner and Chef at Hardy St Eatery says using Upstock has eliminated so much wasted time and confusion between his suppliers and his team.
“You have to be on the ball with fresh fish and order first thing in the morning. Not having to get on the phone during a busy breakfast service is amazing. Upstock has been a game changer for ordering with Aquafresh.”
“We used to waste time chasing orders. Now Upstock shows us where they are every step of the way. Invoices arrive straight away too, so there’s no chasing those either.”
“No more ordering double-ups. Before, our shift workers couldn’t see what had already been ordered by someone else. Now they can jump on Upstock and know if a product’s on the way or not – so yeah, happy days!”
Riki Day is Chef at Hawker House and Bar and has struggled with other tech in the past. With Upstock he doesn't have to wait until morning to order, he puts his orders in the night before.
“I'm not that tech savvy, not too many chefs are. But Upstock is all really straightforward. Each night I just login and see what fish Aquafresh has available, and I get next day delivery without waiting until we can make a phone call.”
“You get little notifications, when your order’s been packed and received, which is handy cos if I'm not at work, I feel reassured the goods have arrived”
“It's a lot quicker than all of the other apps. I get my ordering done within a minute pretty easily.”
Since taking over Aquafresh, he's also grown his staff from 9 to 17 and cut wasteful downtime on the factory floor. Upstock's integrations with Foodstuffs, Cin7Core (formerly Dear Systems) and Xero have helped him to retain staff and increase productivity.
"The factory team told me their biggest frustration was waiting around because the ordering system wasn't joined up. I don't want people standing around, and they just want to get in and start working. In the old days, they'd be waiting for a label or a packing slip. With Upstock, that's all automated."
“Now I can add the extra shifts my workers have asked for. Everyone's happier coming to work – it's a really positive vibe.”
More from our chat with Jonathan:
How does Upstock help with your particular needs as a seafood operation?
Fish is a seasonal and weather-dependent product. Upstock makes it so easy for our customers to see exactly what we have and when. It's especially good for our chefs who want really up-to-date information about what we have fresh. With Upstock, they can see my full product and price list. It's fully transparent. I put up availability each day. If they're mainly after fresh fish, I've coded all the fresh products with the word 'fresh', and then they can just see the list of fresh products when they type 'fresh', same for 'smoked'. Now they can see what's available, so they order more and more often. So yeah, it feels like it's growing the business all by itself now.
What do your restaurant customers think of moving to Upstock to buy from you?
I've actually just had a chef in this morning – Joe Horton from The Styx Restaurant – and he said: "This Upstock is bloody fantastic". Joe thinks it's great because he can see the product range. Before, he was just buying Tarakihi. Now, he's buying Southern Kingfish, Gurnard, and Groper. So he's now buying a much bigger range due to Upstock. Now even if a new customer rings in with a phone order, I just put it into Upstock myself the first time, so then they get an email, and they go: "Oh wow, what's this Upstock?" and start using it for their other orders too. I've got a lot of my chef customers into ordering from me using Upstock, and they think it's fantastic - now they're using it to make their orders with other suppliers too.
You've been growing fast since you took over. What are your future expansion plans?
We're already expanding into Australia, but Upstock will really help us pick up a wider customer base in Aussie, to help us expand faster. Yes, you need an 'anchor customer', which we have, and to have your product on the ground, and we're in the throes of getting there. Now that Upstock is in Australia, I can see Upstock in Australia will be a great benefit to us for export growth as well.
Which integrations are you using, and what improvements have you seen?
It goes from the Foodstuffs Exchange into Upstock, then into my inventory system Cin7Core (formerly Dear Systems), and then into Xero, and it's all connected together. For example, I've just now pulled all the Upstock orders through for today – that's 100-odd orders, which would take a lot of time to enter manually. It would be torture without Upstock and those integrations, now that we're growing so fast. I use Cin7Core for inventory management, and when I started with Upstock, they were working on that integration, so I got to be a 'test puppy' for that, if you will, and it's just been going from strength to strength. Now that we can edit in Upstock, before it comes into Cin7Core, that's been another game changer for time-saving.