For Ken Benjamin of Lignum Honey, the sweet combination of customer engagement and online payments have propelled his business through the pandemic and into unprecedented success.
Having a good idea is one thing, but turning it into a business immediately embraced by friends, family, and foodies is a triumph of its own. For Ken Benjamin of Lignum Honey, the key to success stems from the use of Interac products and good old customer care.
“We’ve been using the Interac e-Transfer platform as a source of payment since the very beginning, especially since the company started with friends and family buying from the business,” he recalls.
Ken’s business is honey; liquid gold sourced from the finest apiaries in Jamaica where the rich soil allows for the creation of four distinct varietals including Mango Logwood and his favourite, Blue Mountain Coffee Blossom, which features a delightful caramel-like taste. “People who love and understand honey are immediately into our products and they just can’t go back to regular honey,” the CEO notes. “The flavour profiles and infusions are so unique — I’m really proud of our products.”
And he’s not alone. Lignum’s fans, old and new, have not been able to get enough of the products in the short time the company has been in operation.
Ken and his wife Renée started Lignum Honey in December of 2019, a mere three months before the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns hit southwestern Ontario, where the business is based. That meant that before the pair could even begin to evaluate the success of their market appearances and make plans for future events, they had to pivot towards online sales.
The unexpected change has been a blessing in disguise, as it provided Ken with an opportunity to lean into customer engagement. He discovered that offering Interac e-Transfer and Interac Debit contactless payments while on the go was a winning strategy that kept him tuned into his customers’ needs.
Sometimes his long-time fans will send a text asking if he’s in their area so they can pick up a jar of their favourite flavour after paying via Interac e-Transfer. “We love when customers are open to sending payments that way because the easier it is for them to pay, the more seamless the experience we can provide,” he says.
Now that in-person markets have begun again, Ken regularly connects with other food vendors to swap strategies and share the insights gained from the last year. He’s especially proud of the relationships built with small businesses like Meika’s Hot Sauce and East End Vegan because he knows that building a community adds tremendous value to everything they do at Lignum.
And he’s never shy about sharing his not-so-secret weapon with other vendors. “There’s been a large shift from credit to debit at market events and would say that about 99% of our sales use Interac products and services,” he notes. “I’m not sure why customers are making the switch, but it’s great for us and other small business owners because there are lower fees associated with debit payments.”
As for the future of Lignum Honey, Ken is enthusiastic about the possibilities that come with listening to his customers and taking note of their purchasing habits. Lignum Honey is now available in 6 boutique grocers across Ontario, and Ken is looking forward to expanding into the United States within the next year as the business grows.
“I want to be a voice for change in terms of how small business owners present value,” he shares, “but I also want to showcase the value of Jamaican culture. “It’s not just about patties or jerk or oxtail, it’s about Jamaica having great honey that the world has never seen.”