Small Business

Demystifying Supply Chains + Logistics With T2

It’s one thing to start a product-based business and sell to a few people locally, it’s quite another to scale it in a way that not only meets (and exceeds) customer expectations, but does so without causing stress and burnout at head office.

This month we talked all things Supply and Logistics with Perdita Collyer, Global Supply Chain Manager, Christian Shaw, Global Logistics Manager and Chris Stanko, Lead Creative at T2. This product-based company has been able to grow from a single shop in Fitzroy to a global powerhouse, that’s now stocked worldwide and boasts 66 stores within Australia.

Fiona Killackey

Perdita Collyer, Global Supply Chain Manager at T2 with the supply chain team. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Perdita and Christian Shaw, T2’s Global Logistics Manager. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Inside the T2 offices in Collingwood. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Today T2 boasts 66 stores across Australia and a slew of global stockists. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Fiona Killackey
20th of July 2018

There are few products which sit alongside us as we experience the spectrum of emotions that is life. A cup of tea — whether sipped nervously during a job interview, enjoyed by a bride on the morning of a wedding, or made for a loved one travelling through grief — can do wonders in terms of silent communication. It was this love for tea and the connection it fosters that drove T2 co-founders, Maryanne Shearer and Jan O’Connor, to launch the business way back in 1996.

Within a year, the company was wholesaling into some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, a tactic that increased international recognition and appreciation. ‘T2 has come a long way from the early days, when the tea was hand packed in the back room of the Fitzroy store, to having a global network of suppliers and copackers,’ says Perdita Collyer, T2’s Global Supply Chain Manager. Today the company boasts 66 stores across Australia and a slew of global stockists sharing the brand and its tea to a worldwide fanbase. ‘With fast growth, we have found the need to be very forward focused in our planning, and to invest in our supply network early to ensure that we can keep pace with demand for our amazing products.’

This forward-focused attitude was present in 2004, when despite only 52% of Australians even using the internet (ABS), T2 chose to launch its online store. ‘We had only a handful of orders placed in that first year,’ admits Christian Shaw, T2’s Global Logistics Manager. Back then ‘orders were hand packed under very manual circumstances, relying on the keen eye for order accuracy.’ Despite the labour required, the launch focused the company on the customer’s overall online shopping experience, something Christian says is still ‘at the forefront of every decision-making process’. Today, ‘all orders are managed through our Warehouse Management System, that adds efficiency and accuracy to a fast-growing environment, while still keeping our “hand packed” traditions, ensuring that each and every T2 customer’s experience is still at the forefront of everything we do.’

It’s this absolute commitment to meet (and exceed) customer’s expectations that has led T2 to become a globally adored company. Yet it hasn’t come without its challenges, in particular attempting to sell a food item across various countries. ‘I think the biggest challenge has been when we expand internationally, as each market has different requirements, and the requirements continue to change as new legislation is passed in each market,’ says Perdita. ‘From a supply and brand perspective, this has meant a lot of work to navigate the different requirements and produce product that is compliant globally. Key to this has been our Quality and Compliance team, who work very closely with our Product team to ensure we tick all the boxes for compliance.’

Investing in expertise has been key. ‘Our biggest investment has been in people and systems,’ says Perdita. ‘Whilst Supply had always existed as a function in the business, it wasn’t until 2015 that we invested in expanding the team. In the last three years, we have grown our function within the business to help unlock value and opportunities as we expand our global footprint.’

If giving advice to budding food business owners, Perdita stresses that success results from finding the right suppliers and forming genuine relationships so that logistics, and consequently, customer experience is not left vulnerable. ‘Invest in passionate people and find a great network of suppliers — we are only as good as the experience we can offer our customers, and that starts with ensuring we produce a fantastic product and get it to our customers on time.’

With an ever-expanding fanbase and new teas coming out all the time, what’s next for this innovative and iconic company? ‘T2 loves to experiment which means we are always brewing up something new!’ says Chris Stanko, Lead Creative at T2. ‘With every cup we brew, we’re shaking up the way people drink tea, inspiring a global community of tea lovers to reimagine their world, sip by sip, cup by cup.’

Shop T2 Tea online or find your nearest store here.

Inside the T2 offices in Collingwood. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Perdita stresses that success results from finding the right suppliers and forming genuine relationships. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.


1. Start as You Mean to Go On

As the team at T2 relay, part of their success is due to their early investment in their supply chain, and processes that met (or exceeded) customer’s expectations. Regardless of your size, consider what’s working for your own supply and logistics, what are the common roadblocks and how could they be automated, delegated or eliminated. This may mean meeting with Fulfilment and Logistics providers like Fulfilio (Australia) or Shipwire (US), finding a mentor within your industry, or investing in a Supply and Logistics consultant to help you improve the way you work.

2. Under Promise, Over Deliver

Poor supply chains and ill-considered logistics can break a company. In a line made famous by Top Gun, don’t let ‘your ego write checks your body can’t cash’. If you promise next-day delivery, that means the very next day. If you go hard promoting a launch date, show up on time (Hello Apple Airpods). Ensure your marketing function has access to live inventory reports so that customers aren’t left clicking from an Instagram post through to an ‘unavailable’ product page. Remember, it takes years to build a reputation and seconds (or in the social media era we live in, one post) to break it. It’s far wiser to under promise and over deliver than to make a promise and break it.

3. Do Your Research

Are you planning to sell your products internationally? If so, do you know which language text must be displayed in? Are any symbols used globally recognised? Is the product name offensive in some languages? Is your product compliant with laws of that country? If you’re manufacturing in China, have you taken into account Chinese New Year? These are just some of the questions product-based businesses should be asking themselves well before promotions go live. Research to avoid future remorse.

4. One Team, One Dream

We’ve all been there. You’re excited about a parcel being delivered, but then it’s late and when you contact the brand you bought it from, you’re sent off to deal with a third-party; becoming a ping pong ball in a game of blame. Strong brands take the time to build relationships with their fulfilment and supply chain providers, so that when things do go wrong they’re fixed quickly. They also invest in the best solutions for their customers, such as partnering with a company like Parcel Point for simple returns, displaying clear online returns policies, offering instant chat or a phone number for customers to make contact, and having a back-end that makes live inventory, customer purchase information and product forecasting simple for all staff.

5. Own Up to Mistakes

No business is perfect and at some point, your supply chain or logistics process will stumble. When this happens it’s best to admit your fault to customers rather than shy away from it. I recently had an issue with a pair of Melody Ehsani earrings, but rather than ignore my email or point the blame at someone else, they were quick to apologise and had another parcel organised and on its way to me within minutes of receiving my email. This would just not be possible without a high level of internal focus on supply and logistics. Rather than make me dislike the brand, it only made my love for them stronger.

Fiona Killackey is a business consultant and coach and the founder of My Daily Business Coach, a consultancy that provides business coaching and consulting, branding + marketing workshops and creative ideation.  Fiona will be teaching a new workshop this August in Sydney for people wanting to start a business, Loving Mondays: How to Plan and Start a Business.

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