David Lau said

Feedback on Asha Tea House's Online Store

Hi everyone, I’m writing to solicit feedback on our online store. We’ve been really busy building our tea house, which is slated to open at the end of this month, and have hardly had any time to polish the website.

If any of you have recommendations for improvements please let us know here. Whether it’s service, product descriptions, photographs, or literature/videos about origins and tea advice don’t hold back! Feedback on your shopping experience with us online is welcome as well.

We’ll have a special promo for your input. Thanks for helping us provide a better product and service!


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website link: www.ashateahouse.com

29 Replies
Missy said

I really like the photography. Brilliant pictures here. I have to admit I played with the pictures following my cursor for a fair amount of time.

The information about each tea seems appropriate. I’m pretty new to tea but I’ve read that people really like to know about harvests for quality purposes. I did notice most of the teas have a price per unit format. I found one that didn’t but perhaps that is normal and I just don’t realize it. It was the 2008 Jing Mai Ancient Trees Green Pu’er.

In your brewing guide you show some parameters for multiple brewing. An excellent addition in my opinion. Breaking brewing down to some very simple steps is an awesome way to make a newer person more comfortable with making tea.

I feel like the site is too white. Maybe a back ground graphic? I did find a link that didn’t work for me.
http://www.ashateahouse.com/pages/making-oolong-tea-on-alishan

Yeah that’s all I can think of right now. Good luck!

David Lau said

What did you think about the length of each description. We’ve tried to keep it short and add links to further reading.

We plan to add more content about the harvests. What did you think of the “origin” information that we’ve added here? I’m really big on place so we’ve focused on that aspect of the tea origin. Perhaps more information about the farmer? More faces?

There was a couple links that didn’t work, hopefully I’ve fixed them all now. It happened when we migrated from Wordpress.

Missy said

I like the length of the descriptions. They are helpful with out prejudicing me about what I should taste. I still get a bit of information on how the tea is processed. Good tidbits for me to browse here. Links are brilliant. I can go into more depth if I should like. I don’t have to wade through a bunch of information if I already know it, or even if I’m just pressed for time.

A few more faces would be excellent. Again any thing that makes your company more human will make me feel like I’m getting to know it. The pictures you have added already feel like I’m viewing this exotic, mysterious culture. Kudos for that. Adding a bit more will only add to the allure.

I really like the origins information. The experiences and bits about the area you’ve got up make me want to take my own tea journey. Score for you! I found they were short and interesting enough I didn’t want to use them for bed time reading. I think you’ve got a good balance in providing information about places and the time a reader would have to invest to complete it. I feel like I got to know you a bit, an excellent way to reach out to customers. I’m a curious person, so I would love to read more about the farmers. Perhaps add a bit of the culture in that pertains to farming community. Maybe a bit of back ground on them. How long have they farmed? Is it a generational thing?

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Blake said

I do have one recommendation. Personally, I’d post a link. =]

It’s not difficult at all to find with a simple Google search, but it’s far easier for potential customers to get there by linking it.

http://www.ashateahouse.com

In all seriousness, it’s a very clean site.

Missy said

That was the first thing I thought when I was done reading the post. I found the link on his profile. I totally forgot to post it here like I had planned. I’m getting old me thinks.

David Lau said

A link, duh. Great recommendation Blake =)

Thanks, we plan to add our graphics in soon so it has some character to it.

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Azzrian said

Very nice photos / slide show – on the home page.

Excellent photos of the teas – all uniform and quality!

Question – if a tea – example this one http://www.ashateahouse.com/collections/tea-shelf/products/2005-bigleaf-black-puer
Does not have choices in quantity then what is the price for? One ounce? I would want to know exactly how much I am buying for this price offered.

Found facebook, twitter, etc and newsletter easily – thats good.

Nice videos and information – good Our Story page

I see the same guy in many photos – nice looking Asian guy – who is he? Are you he? What about YOU? I want to know more about the faces behind the company name especially if he is going to be showing his nice face so much and speaking in first person “My first unofficial tea lessons started during visits with my family in Taiwan. Oolong tea was always on the table during meals, and after dinner, my cousins and I would run out to buy bubble tea and to set off fireworks”

Menu page is not working properly – photo does not show up or something is showing up as a square with ? in middle.

Lovely tea cups but maybe explain to an idiot like myself WHY they are so expensive. Tell the buyer who may not know about tea cups of this caliber why they are worth this investment and or have some more “affordable” tea cups.

No items show in clearance section which is fine I guess but I would try to have something in there at all times if possible.

No sample sizes? I like sample sizes. Do you offer free samples to bloggers? Do you offer discounts ever? One thing I hate is having to seek high and low for a discount code or codes only offered to specific groups. Let us know IF we are facebook friends or follow twitter, etc we can get them IF we can. Don’t make us work for them like some tea companies do. My time is worth money. Not speaking to you specifically but all tea vendors that make me search high and low for a discount code. And trust me a 10% discount will for SURE push me over the edge to make a nice purchase or even purchase more if that 10% saves me the shipping fee.

Hope those ideas help!

David Lau said

Thanks for all your ideas. And yes, we need to update our team page to include photo’s of everyone.

Tea ware is pretty tough to describe and perhaps that’s something we’ll take down until we have more offerings, and both commercial and artisan level wares.

No items in clearance right now as we have a very small selection. Good point though, we’ll try to keep something here.

We went away from individual samples and have been planning to add sampler packs soon, sorry for the delay. We sometimes offer free samples to bloggers, you can send us an e-mail.

We will be vigilant about deal transparency. Shipping is free on all orders actually, we should add a free shipping icon in.

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Hi David,
I am excited about the store opening and will definitely come visit!

I like your website. It gives out a good amount of information without being overly pretentious. I’d like to see sample sizes also, or perhaps sampler packs for more of the offerings. Also, it would be nice to see you round out your product line a bit more in the green tea and the teaware categories. Will you be adding the white teas I see on the “menu” section to the online store?
Amy

David Lau said

Thanks Amy. Sample packs will be added soon =). The packaging was a little bit problematic as we don’t pre package the samples. They tend to go stale quickly that way. We’ve found a solution though and should be adding that soon.

We’ll try to add some greens and whites and more tea ware. It might be at least a month or two though. Our staff and space are stretched thin right now though and we don’t want speed and service to be compromised.

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David Lau said

I’m glad a lot of you liked the photo’s. Amongst numerous rejects there are always a few good ones =). We though about putting a copyright watermark on the pictures but this makes them look really ugly. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Azzrian said

Perhaps right clicking disabling the photos is the better route. That way no one can steal them from your site.

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The photos look great. I will say from a bloggers standpoint, I like being able to “swipe” the photos because then we can easily add them to a review without having to go through the effort of taking a screen shot and doing the photoshop thing. But, from a tea purveyors perspective, I understand the concerns of having the photos stolen, as I did have some pretty remarkable photos on my site (I found a fantastic photographer who was willing to trade her services for tea!)

The site looks nice, and it is very easy to navigate which is good. My only thought is it seems a little too white. I guess I prefer the background to be a little less bright, but, that’s just me, so, I wouldn’t really call that a bad thing.

As far as product input, here is a link to the tea that I’ve reviewed of yours: http://sororiteasisters.com/2011/10/13/pure-heart-alishan-from-asha-tea-house/

You don’t have to add that to your site, of course, but if you’d like to, you may.

More thoughts on the photos: I don’t know if you have thought of this, but, perhaps instead of a watermark, you could include a logo on the photo, that way it is clearly YOURS but it would still allow the bloggers like me to use the photo.

Another thought on the site too, I notice as I look through the products that the location of the name of the tea, it actually looks (at first, quick glance) that the name belongs to the tea below it as opposed to the tea above it, because the boundary box that surrounds the name and picture of the tea is very light in color, and much larger than it needs to be. I don’t know if there is a way to change this to make the box either smaller, or to put the name of the tea above the photo. Again, this is not a big deal, because this is something I just sort of noticed as I glanced around. Just little things. You know? I guess that’s the artist in me, looking at the tiny things rather than focusing on the big picture.

David Lau said

Thanks for pointing these design elements out. A design overhaul is definitely in order soon.

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So, a couple things I don’t think other people have mentioned…

1) I don’t think I like that hello bar. Its a neat little app, I’ll give it that. I’m curious what your future plans are for it… because if all it’s going to do is tell me about the newsletter, it’s probably wasted real estate. Plus, it covers up your login button.

2) It might just be me, but I want more captions on your photos on the pages with the tea. It’s awesome that you have ‘backstory’ pictures… but I just want a little one liner such as ‘This is a garden in Ping Ling’. Or let me know what the statue says in this picture: http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0097/5092/products/taiwan_winter_2011_082.jpg?3721

Still curious, by the way :)

3) On your ‘About Tea’ page, you should totally make the images to be links as well as the writing underneath. In particular the one for ‘Watch’. It looks like an icon, a smartphone icon. My first instinct is to click on the picture (think of your desktop right now… do you click on the picture, or the writing underneath?).

4) That third photo of Li Shan is amazing.

5) You offer free shipping (or it’s built into the price, whatever). That should be more obvious on the site. After not being able to find a shipping link anywhere on your site, I proceeded through the checkout process to see what shipping was going to be. If you don’t have a page devoted to shipping costs, you should definitely have something posted on every page that says free shipping. Really there should just be a shipping and payment page. If nothing else you can put your free shipping policy, who you ship using, and what payment methods you accept.

6) Warn me that your checkout takes me to a different site. I’m probably not really going to a different site, navigating from a shopify storefront to a shopify checkout, but looking at my address bar and seeing a different company than the one I started off with almost guarantees I will cancel an order.

Reading this over, I think it’s coming off a little snarky. I in no way intend to be snarky, just… you know, straightforward and factual. I think it’s awesome that you’re using us as marketing research :)

David Lau said

Your feedback is really helpful Dylan. It’s not snarky, there’s tons of room for improvement =).

I don’t know how to get away from the checkout taking customers to paypal unfortunately.. A full on merchant account right now doesn’t make sense. I’ll have to look around and see if there’s any alternatives.

The words beneath the ping lin princess statue 坪林社區just mean Ping Lin Community / Township. Haha.. sorry to disappoint you.

Missy said

Is it possible to just warn people that they must navigate away to pay?

It’s actually about two steps prior to the paypal part.

From http://www.ashateahouse.com/cart, hitting the red button on the side that says “check out” takes you to checkout.shopify.com. I think it’s the cart page that needs the warning (maybe it’s just me, and I’m paranoid).

And thanks for the translation. That totally blows away the ‘Now Entering Random City’ signs around here :P

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Will said

Looks good. I saw the site last week, because my wife’s friend from high school is working on it with you. Will your retail shop be open for business by 4/21?

Some minor nit-picky feedback:

1) Work on the categories. Having Oriental Beauty (an oolong, though a heavily oxidized one, and identified as such in the text on your site), Chinese style red tea, and ripe pu’er all under “black” tea is potentially confusing. I would either stick to the Chinese system of naming or the Western one, but don’t mix the two. Whatever name you use, these teas are not at all in the same category.

2) It’s great that you have the characters for many of the cultivars and regions. Using a consistent romanization system (ideally Hanyu pinyin) for Chinese names will help keep things standard you have “san lin xi”, but “li shan” and “a li shan” (yes, it’s 杉 not 山, and most people in Taiwan don’t pronounce the ‘h’, but the pinyin is still shān). Also, if I’m not mistaken, it’s “杉” not “衫” (lin root, not yi root).

3) Adding more photos of the wet leaves and the brewed tea liquor as time goes on will make it easier for people to make informed decisions. I think for online tea buying, it’s also really helpful if there’s a way to buy sample sizes.

As far as more positive things, I like that you’re providing some information about the cultivars and processing, and I like that you’re not trying to carry too broad a selection or too many flavored / scented teas. I think the site design is pretty clean.

David Lau said

What a coincidence! Great to meet you Will. Most likely the end of the month. Good point about the categories. I spelled Shan incorrectly, oops, thanks for pointing that out.

Pictures of wet leaves and liquor is something we need to do. We had them for the first couple products, but the background wasn’t consistent so we took them off. http://www.ashateahouse.com/collections/oolong/products/pure-heart-alishan-2011

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candlelite said

I accessed your site on a mobile browser, which is how I do most of my browsing nowadays. Here’s some feedback I have for your site:

1. Your site is extremely left oriented. The page renders a good width, but there is not enough content (or the formatting of poor) such that most of the info is on the left two thirds of the page. Esthetically it looks kind of awkward.

The next two are probably mobile specific:

2. Your menu is completely not usable on my browser. I can only get to the root link but cannot open any of the menu items.

3. When looking at each tea, the control you use to show other teas is not usable on my browser. It just loads the static links and the scrollbar is not functional.

4. I think there needs to be more content in general on the site. I agree with Missy above that there is an uncomfortable amount of white space on the site. Perhaps reducing the padding on some elements and tweaking formatting will help. The strange amount of blank space makes the site seem like it is not complete and ready.

5. Your photos are beautiful, but also very sterile. When I look at your site, I enjoy the eye candy, but feel no attachment to you, the person selling me the tea. Who are you, how do you choose your teas and why should I trust your choices? I think this is the biggest downfall of the site. As I am browsing I want to feel comfortable, welcomed into your world and invited to participate in it.

6. There is a strangeness about the way the teas are presented. The photos are kind of small and zoomed out, so they look the same, and the font is too little for the space. It’s as if too much attention was paid to make every photo uniform. I think it’d be better to emphasize how unique each tea is. I wish the photos were more zoomed in and the text wasn’t so weirdly formatted.

I hope this is constructive. I think you have a lot of good material to work with, and hands down the best tea farm photos I’ve seen. I wish you the best of luck!

David Lau said

Hi Candlelite. I agree with you that the site doesn’t have a personal enough touch to it. Will definitely look into additional content to make the site feel more complete and to add personality.

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I love the photos. It’s nice seeing pictures of the actual tea you are getting! The close-up view of the photo is nice as well — the more detail, the better! It might also be fun to add some photos of the tea after it has been steeped. I personally like seeing the color of the tea, plus the expanded and wet leaves.

The website loads quickly for me and offers a simple, clean presentation. I’d love to see a little bit more color… especially since your website opens with such amazing photos of the green hills! I like the maroon and black uniform font for the tea description, but perhaps a more colorful font or background for your name?

I am a fan of your website and look forward to purchasing some of your tea in the future!

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