A BUSINESS based on the 'try before you buy' experience was forced to innovate when the Covid pandemic hit.

Until the crisis struck, York-based Maximise was a leading supplier of Tester Blotter strips to manufacturers and retailers in the scent, fragrance and flavour industries.

With clients in 56 countries, millions of its highly-absorbent pieces of card were being used, mainly for allowing customers to sample perfumes in high-street stores and airport Duty Free shops.

Covid-19, lockdowns and the working from home trend had a huge impact on scent and fragrance commerce and, in turn, on Maximise.

While other industries benefitted from the growing online retail landscape, there was no easy way of giving customers the 'try before you buy' experience that is fundamental to such a subjective product like fragrance.

The Maximise team recognised the need to help clients adapt to the online retail environment by providing them with samples they could share with at-home shopping customers.

Their innovative response to the crisis has led to their nomination for The Press Business Innovation Award.

Within weeks, they devised and launched a new direct mail marketing service.

Designed to be delivered to customers' doors or inserted into magazines, it created scented marketing products which include Swipe & Smell patches and brochures, Peel & Seal Tester Blotter strips, sample cards and letters.

They also introduced a direct mail distribution service, so clients could capitalise on their customer databases and respond to online enquiries for samples.

The Swipe & Smell brochures are being used by brands Jo Loves and Ashleigh & Burwood, while several wholesale trade partners are using Swipe & Smell items for their own B2B promotions.

Maximise was founded by Andy Hudson after he was made redundant in his late 40s.

Originally a print company specialising in print and packaging for the beauty industry, Andy saw the potential of a company dedicated to the niche market of fragrance and scent testing.

Maximise narrowed its focus and started supplying luxury brands with plain, branded and embossed Tester Blotters.

In 2016, they invested in a digital strategy resulting in several innovations, including QR codes on Tester Blotters that enable clients to incentivise potential customers and track sales conversions; videos explaining and promoting Maximise's products; and the ability to upload logos via the Maximise website, allowing clients to personalise Tester Blotters.

Maximise is now experimenting with further innovations to reduce its delivery overheads and keeping track of valuable orders.

*The Press Business Awards, now in their 30th year, celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship and success in our region, with 10 categories to choose from.

Find out more about the awards here.

Open for entries, the awards nomination deadline is August 15.

To enter your business, visit Press Business Awards.