POKS Spices (pronounced “pokes”) is a family-run business and passion project run by Abena, Founder, and her partner Eugene, Chief Operations Officer. Growing up in Ghana, West Africa, Abena learned how to cook with West African spices. Her father has been a vegetable farmer for 40 years – and his father was a cocoa farmer – so she grew up in an environment surrounded by West African food, spices, and culture. After moving to the U.S. for school in 2006, Abena worked in the food industry as a food scientist. She quickly learned that there was a lack of West African originated products and flavors in mainstream retail stores.
In the winter of 2015, Abena leveraged her food science background and West African heritage to develop the first prototypes of POKS Spices West African Seasonings. She took the prototype to a white elephant gift exchange event and it was a hit! This success led to the launch of two new products in the summer of 2016.
Since then, the POKS Spices team has added another product to the POKS Spices Seasoning collection! The three products have won eight product awards and have been featured on podcasts, TV shows, and online magazines. The POKS team aims to introduce American homes to the West African trinity of spices–chili pepper, ginger, and onion. The team was also recently selected to be a part of Target’s accelerator program, bringing them closer to their goal of being stocked in a grocery store to reach a greater audience nationwide!
Starting a small business – specifically in the food & beverage industry – is very capital intensive. Abena started out in her home kitchen, creating her products through experimentation. As a small, minority-owned company with no additional funding, the POKS team had to leverage their own skills, expertise, and finances to build their business.
Additionally, POKS products are spice-forward, meaning they contain at least 65% spices, unlike many other larger retail brand mixes. Because salt and other preservatives are not leading ingredients in their products, POKS Spices are priced at a premium compared to other products. As a small business still trying to gain brand recognition, the POKS team faced difficulty convincing people to take the leap to try their product.
When it came time for the POKS team to explore shipping products to their customers, it wasn’t long before they realized that on top of their product expenses, shipping would be an added expense. When going directly on the carrier website, the POKS team learned that they would end up having to charge customers almost twice the amount of their product for shipping. They knew they had to find a shipping platform that would integrate seamlessly with their Wix website and give them the cheapest rates. The first shipping platform they found had high fees and was difficult to use, but as a small business, saving time and money is of the utmost importance.
In 2019, the POKS team turned to Shippo to enable a seamless integration with their e-commerce platform, helping them cut costs and save time when it came to shipping. With Shippo, Abena is able to receive an order automatically in Shippo, then set the weight, choose the packaging, and streamline their whole shipping process. “It was easy to set up, and seamlessly integrate Shippo with our e-commerce platform. It takes us less than a minute to print shipping labels for orders. It has saved us so much time”, said Abena.
Additionally, with Shippo’s enhanced analytics, the POKS team is able to save money and time by optimizing their shipping process and spend. “As a small business owner, having access to systems that integrate seamlessly with our e-commerce platform, while saving us time to dedicate to marketing our products is important. That is what Shippo’s shipping platform has done for POKS Spices,” shared Abena.
For a small business, saving time is valuable. With Shippo, the team doesn’t spend time doing manual work when it comes to shipping. “The process with Shippo is so easy, it literally takes us a minute to package and process the order”, notes Abena.
The POKS team is always thinking about how to improve their customer purchasing experience by decreasing their delivery transit time. With Shippo’s vast carrier network, Abena and her team can optimize their customer experience when it comes to shipping. “For us, customer service is key. Our customers are able to get their product quickly and that to us is success”, stated Abena.
With Shippo, the POKS Spices team saved an average of $300 in shipping costs in just one year! In addition, with Shippo’s vast carrier network, the average transit time for their packages is around three days, allowing their customers to receive their products in a timely manner.
“Since we started using Shippo, we have been able to consistently access commercial shipping rates, which allows us to give the best rates to our customers without having to worry about issues of customers being overcharged or undercharged. Now, we have more time to focus on giving our customers great service and to market our products to new customers”, shared Abena.
A Shipping Solution for Businesses of All Sizes
Shippo is a single, easy-to-integrate program that powers everything leading e-commerce brands need for shipping. From a single integration, businesses gain access to over 85+ global shipping carriers. And since all carrier interactions are standardized, Shippo makes it easy for businesses to compare rates and ETAs, print labels, schedule pickups (with USPS and DHL Express), track shipments, facilitate returns, and more across several carriers, all in one place.
Connecting your online store is also fast and easy with Shippo’s pre-built integrations. Shippo can automatically connect with several popular e-commerce platforms and marketplaces, and getting set up can be done in a manner of minutes without the need for any technical developer resources.
You also have options for using Shippo: online through our web application or connected via API. The great thing about these options is that Shippo has the ability to grow with you as your business needs evolve.
For businesses that want to get started right away, the web app is a great solution. And getting started is as easy as opening an account, entering some basic information, and creating your first shipping label. For businesses looking for an even more customizable solution, Shippo’s API is the next step. With Shippo’s developer-centric API, businesses can take their automation efforts even further. Visit Shippo’s API information page to learn more.