We continue with our mission - 2023 was our third year in operation and at the end of the year its always a great time for us to reflect on progress.
Our goal has always been to have reached10,000 households in Malta with TAPP Water Filters, and we set out to achieve this by 2026.
Increased Number of households in Malta who have purchased a TAPP Water Filter
In 2023 over 1,600 new #TAPPHero families joined us which represents an increase in growth from the preceding year.
By the end of 2023 nearly 5,000 households (up from 3,200 in 2022) have purchased a TAPP water Filter, a 50% growth rate from 2022.
After 3 years we certainly feel we are on our way towards reaching 10,000 households by 2026 - but we also appreciate there is so much more to be done.
We celebrate by thanking you for your support this year as we reached 50% of our goal.
Plastic Bottles Eliminated
We now claim over 3 million plastic bottles eliminated every year - rather than an amount of plastic bottles to date.
In 2020 when we launched we worked with generally available data of 1,000 plastic bottles per household. Today we use 600 as our average plastic bottles per household which is based on the data we receive from our customers.
More incentives for consumers to make the switch
Whilst 2022 was more about BCRS after it's launch in November 2022, 2023 was more about the re-launch of the Government Grant on Water Purification systems. This new system in particular rewards consumers for purchasing water filtration systems that do not waste water - such as TAPP water.
So we now have the stick (BCRS) and the carrot (Grant) to encourage more people to move away from plastic bottles. It's progress, and to be celebrated. But there is a long way to go. Despite the 60X more expensive cost and the inconvenience, in supermarket car parks we still regularly see large amounts of plastic bottles being loaded into vehicles.
From our discussions with customers we conclude that this is still happening because many people do not know there are alternative ways to get drinking water in Malta. We hope to continue to facilitate spreading the word in 2024.
Our Carbon Offsetting program works with the Grow 10 trees Project in Malta, this year its looking like we pay for the planting of 50 Trees (the same as 2022) which offsets all the CO2 emissions for our products in 5,000 households + the CO2 emissions of the TAPP Water Malta Ltd and Phil & Annalena personally. This year we have reduced are CO2 footprint by doing more for less CO2 emissions; the primary change was in sustainable packaging and our delivery operations.
2023 has been the year for product defects with over 2,000 occurrences of defects and 1,277 customers that have been affected in total. It has been difficult to make progress in other areas with the amount of defects this year more than doubling.
Although this number has been so high, we have also secured the solution to 98% of the defects that have occurred by finally receiving the EcoPro and some EcoPro Compact in a new plastic compound that is stronger. By January 2024 all models will be in this new compound which has been proven to be reliable.
Since November when these new compound products have been released we have had no defects reported - this in itself is a cause for celebration and we can at last say we have a reliable product.
It has been a frustrating journey for many, and for some customers it has been just too much and we have been unsuccessful in retaining them. We understand the frustration and continue to provide warranty changes for any customer affected by product design faults actively reaching out to customers who have not reported any issues in order to make sure they have the opportunity to do so if needed.
Our confidence has naturally been dented by this years experience, and so has that of our customers. However we finish this year with a sustainable, reliable product that continues to have support by the majority of customers. Thus we believe we have strong foundations to work towards our mission.
#TAPPHeroes in Malta have been hugely patient and understanding as we have worked through these issues - we are very grateful for all the kind words we receive and your feedback.
We are also hugely grateful to the team at TAPP Water HQ in Barcelona who have given us solid back up during this time and have consistently pushed themselves for a solution.
This year has also been about improving the internal systems. Although we are still only 2 persons full time in the business we have had to cope with a widely increased customer base, many more support issues and more orders and to stay efficient we have also grown our systems and procedures.
We launched an integrated omnichannel support system that means all customer contact from any social media channel, WhatsApp or email is all recorded centrally. We can access orders from this same system which also allows us to score our response rates and success in resolving customer issues.
The system is one of the top ecommerce systems in use globally, we moved to Gorgias after dropping our previous system which was much cheaper but did not make the grade. With a cost of several 000's euros a year it's a huge investment for a small business like TAPP Water in Malta - however our mission can only be achieved through top notch customer service and we believe this investment is important as it makes top service delivery much easier.
We have also invested in creating procedures that can be replicated, at some stage we know we will need to grow our team and so we need a system today that can be built on and replicated.
Our help center is now integrated into the website making it easier to access all parts of the website (last year it was a separate website) and this means that we can also design "Flows" which are self service support that are useful when we are not online. We find these are used more and more but we need to design them better and that takes some time as we learn how you make use of them.
We also made many improvements to email follow up systems and automation of as many routine tasks as possible, including a move to a complete customer management system that enables us to record preferences for our customers so that we communicate more effectively and directly rather than generally.
Customer Service Awards
We were humbled to be awarded 1st place in the Premju Servizz bi Tbissima 2023 - Online Seller category having achieved runner up status in both 2021 and 2022 it was a huge surprise to be on the podium.
Thank you for your votes which are very much appreciated.
Our social impact is always in our minds as we continue to strive to take action as a sustainable business. In total in 2023 we donated 17 complete TAPP Water Systems to be used inside facilities (NGO's) or to be used as Raffle Prizes with the sum of €1,779 at retail value being handed over.
You can read more about that here - this year we reached more organisations and increased the value of donations by 50%.
Its our great pleasure to take this action and its at the heart of our business, we also have noted that its our customers who direct this action and where we choose to help by making requests from us. It all comes from you, the #TAPP Heroes of Malta.
Live shows and Content Creation
We have had a total of 14 live shows on our YouTube channel, streamed also on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Its less than last year as we took a long break in the summer to focus on in-person events and the customer support.
Our YouTube channel doubled in subscribers, our followers on most other channels have grown steadily although engagement is higher with more comments and shares.
Our content is all home-produced, a change we made this year also and it's an area where our skills need to improve and content creation is a focus for 2024 and we have some exciting plans in that area.
We adopted the use of some AI tools to help bring content creation and writing to life more than we can ourselves. The tools we have adopted have been our guides for content creation from both a research and the content itself. The tools have enabled us to create more content, consistently and effectively - but we find the human touch is always needed.
The Top Facebook post of 2023 was a post about the 40% Government Grant available on Water Filters launched in April although the post was from July, as the weather was getting very hot and we were all drinking more water!
The Top Facebook Video was a live show on the new grant system just as the grant was launched back in April 2023;
A considerable number of our customers arrive at TAPP Water because of another happy customer. We have worked this year on making it easier to share a €20 off coupon which also earns the happy customer a €20 credit.
This year the number of referrals increased with the launch of the personal referral link, its a URL with your name on it just like this
(This is a working link that gets you €20 off TAPP Water Filters), we do love to see the creative names that you use!
We plan to work on to make this process easier and more effective for everyone and we have some new plans for 2024 in this area which follow on from the creation of the personalised referral links - did you get yours yet?
We continued in our commitment to free delivery in Malta and Gozo. In 2023 we have all seen huge prices rises in all our basic costs and delivery was one of those. In the middle of the year we transitioned to MaltaPost Premium Courier Service.
We had tested the service with some of our deliveries for a few months prior to the change and we had been satisfied with the service levels, the communication and the ease of booking orders in an online platform. In addition the professional tracking system really helps both ourselves and our customers.
The potential downside was the "One and Done" approach - so only 1 attempt is made at delivery. We were initially concerned as our previous couriers were contracted to keep trying until the item was delivered. As it worked out, although multiple delivery attempts sounds better, it often led to high levels of frustration and communication issues.
With hindsight we can say that good tracking numbers and clear information about where the order is has worked to your advantage. Most orders get delivered first time, and if the delivery is missed then its available in a location near the delivery point ready for collection.
The EasiPik locker service has been very useful and about 10% of our deliveries use an EasiPik locker selected by the customer and this service is provided free. It works very well for people at work during the day so they can pick their parcels up on the way home.
A final point is the sustainability side - we believe our deliveries are far more sustainable as we know have a number for each delivery for CO2 emissions that we can offset and MaltaPost has an ongoing commitment to ESG as a large employer and a responsibility for organisation wide sustainability.
As a large organisation we are consistently impressed with the commitment of all team members that we meet, the team at Xewkija in Gozo that collect from us and the teams in Marsa that we also are in contact with regularly. Thanks everyone!
The move to MaltaPost left us with a large stock of brown paper bags to use as packaging for our orders. However this needed considerable amounts of plastic tape to make them secure. This was not in keeping with our commitment to sustainability and so we began a long search for a better sustainable packaging solution.
We had to search for a while for a reliable solution, we tried paper bags, card boxes and also environmentally friendly tape, we also tried to source in Malta a sustainable packaging solution that was cost effective but without success.
Finally we found Better Packaging Co and opted for their POLLAST!C mailer bags that are made from ethically sourced marine plastic in Asia. This solution has been hugely effective, packing is quick and efficient and the bags are strong and look great. We are very happy with this results and we receive generous feedback on this solution.
The high standard and effectiveness of the product is just one great thing about the company, the other is that BetterPackagingCo are just awesome to work with. Great customer service and a very committed team that inspire us to do better.
The relaunch of TAPPZero
Having launched TAPPZero in 2022 with our previous couriers support, we then find ourselves in a bit of a pickle when we switched to MaltaPost.
However we were able to relaunch TAPPZero in 2023 with MaltaPost providing a return service for the refills and the TAPPZero Return bags being made of 100% recycled marine plastic.
This is an advantage too because it is entirely within the waste management regulations whereas our previous system was at best a "work around", collecting waste from you is problematic under our current waste regulations, but you returning your products is a compliant solution.
So we believe that this has worked out well and a significant number of customers now request the free TAPPZero Refill Return Bag when ordering their filters.
Repurposing the returned refills is an ongoing development project, we need to learn more about how to deal with each component, but we have made progress and with more refills returned we shall be able to develop the solution further in 2024. Please do request a refill return bag when you order, and take part in this initiative so we avoid landfill waste.
During 2023 we more than doubled our Retail Partner Footprint in Malta and Gozo and we finish the year with 27 TAPP Water Retail Partners in 25 towns and an interactive map available for Malta and Gozo.
It's a great improvement, at the same time we actually pulled out of 2 stores during the year. Our aim is still to get to every single town having a TAPP Retail Partner available.
We also collaborated with ReRoot Malta to set up an in-person service centre for faults and adapters - its still embryonic but has been useful for many people, we are very grateful for the team at ReRoot Malta that makes this possible.
We have to work clearly on our packaging which is great for ecommerce but does not exactly catch the eye of a passer by in a store, and we also have to work with our signage and display inside the stores, that is all on the cards for 2024 so look out for more growth in that area too.
Instore events were successful this year with a couple being completed and we plan more of these in 2024.
TAPP On Tour
We had a busy year at events in 2023 covering 11 events between March and August with a total of 38 days out at events meeting new customers.
On the whole all events were a success, however being based in Gozo and not having an owned vehicle does cause complications with doing so many events so in 2024 we will be focussing on a single event for 10 days only.
This schedule of events this year brought to mind the challenges of balancing the choice of a more sustainable way of living in Gozo and relying on public transport and eBikes with still developing a business sustainably and achieving the mission.
Events definitely get us out to meet new audiences but the financial, energetic and environmental costs are quite high - but we are glad to have done it with a strong commitment as we learned so much from the experience.
Looking forward to 2024
Here is what we are looking forward to in 2024
- Less defects - building on a reliable product
- More Retail Partners - our 2024 goal is 36 town covered
- Just one in-person big event for 10 days to meet both new and existing customers
- In-store promotions, new packaging, new store displays
- The launch of a TAPP Water Malta APP
- Facilitating more customer referrals - more sharing of personal Hero Links
- Focussing on quality informative content, and more video & Live shows
- More focussed email delivery - delivering content you want to read
A huge thank you for your support in 2023 - we were kept going in this challenging year by the multitude of beautiful and heart warming messages you sent to us. Each one of those messages made a huge impact on us and are what inspires us to keep going.
Wishing every reader a peaceful and impactful 2024