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Success Stories: Gary Lawson from Ocha & Co.

Ocha & Co.

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Gary Lawson runs Ocha & Co. which sells a range of premium organic Japanese green teas direct from Japan. The teas are ordered vacuum-sealed in small batches from an organic cooperative and quickly shipped, ensuring they arrive in prime condition for the perfect drinking experience. They now ship to over 50 countries. Find out how they’ve made a successful business selling online:

Why did you start selling online? 

We decided to leave Tokyo after the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 and relocate to a small agricultural town of 7000 people on the northern island of Hokkaido. There’s not a great deal of work apart from farming and I needed to start some kind of business that would allow us to live here.

I had tried exporting Japanese green tea previously but there wasn’t the interest back then or the popularity of internet shopping. I still had contact with the organic cooperative that now supplies our teas so I decided to give it another go. The postal service here in Japan is excellent, therefore an online business was the obvious choice.

What have been your biggest challenges selling online, and how have you overcome them?

It takes time for an online business to build momentum and become established, so you might need to find an income from another source until you reach that point. At the beginning I started another business selling vintage Japanese items for some extra money.

Why do you use Zenstores?

We sell on Amazon (UK and US), eBay and on our own Shopify shop so hopping from one interface to another was frustrating and taking up a lot of time. Zenstores is easy to use, quite fun in fact, and saves time. We also use the search function a lot to track down orders and customer information. 

"Zenstores is easy to use, quite fun in fact, and saves time."

The support at Zenstores is really helpful and they’re receptive to customer requests. When asked, Zenstores quickly added the Cyrillic fonts needed to print labels for our Russian customers.

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About the author

Verity is a journalist and content producer at Zenstores.

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