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For tea sellers ONLY

68 Replies
KaiMatcha said

Hi everyone, my company is called KaiMatcha, and right now we are just selling our ceremonial grade of matcha called KaiMatcha Premium. You can learn more at http://www.kaimatcha.com.

We just launched this month and it has been tough going so far. I get frustrated because I know my product is superior to others in my price range but people just aren’t buying. I have tried running some Google ads, but nothing has converted yet. I have given away some free samples on Steepster, and hopefully once the reviews come in we will start seeing some more sales. That will cover the hardcore tea drinkers, but my goal has always been to spread the word about the amazing health benefits of matcha to the general public. I need to figure out a way to get more exposure to the tea, and get people just to try one can. I know once they try it once, they will be hooked.

Any advice or critique/suggestions on the website or tips for marketing would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

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Hi KaiMatcha,
It would seem that you are one of my most direct competitors. It’s a good thing, the market for matcha tea is big enough for both of us. Perhaps we can help each-other.
First of all, I do like your site, but I have noticed that you only have one product. From my experience, people like variety. My problem is the opposite, too much variety. Perhaps you could add some a little bit variety.
Stores that offer variety do better, because there is always a chance customers that want one thing, will also buy something else while shopping there.
Also, your product, while high quality, is at the higher price range. It’s like houses, the more expensive the house, the harder to find a buyer for that.
Also, the 3 and 6 can deal you offer is a bit pricy. Not many of my orders come close to $100 and rarely around $180.
One solution that I can offer, is to offer at low price samples. If you believe that your product is that good and once people will try it they will want to buy more. Unfortunately, it’s the customers that have to believe that your product is superior, not just you.
I used to have a tea that I loved and thought it was the greatest product ever and could not figure out why it was not a bestseller. Unfortunately, people like different things and what I liked was not the same thing that most of my customers liked.
I have ran some Google ads, but it’s a waste of money. In the long run, it’s better to pay someone that can help you with organic SEO.
Which reminds me, even if you have the best product out there and no one can find your store, not many sales can happen.
Also, giving out samples to bloggers helps. You get a nice exposure. Problem is that you never know if the review will be good or not, but at least you’ll get some honest opinion and can make changes accordingly. Don’t give up, adjust. Hershey filed for bankruptcy 7 times before he became hugely successful.
I’m kind of new to selling matcha as well, but it looks to me that attending the shows can get you noticed. I’m saving money now and will try to attend one of the Fancy Food Shows next year. It’s a bit price, but I hope I can get more business that way.
Not sure if this all helps or not…
I have a question to you and perhaps you can help me with this. I’m looking for someone that can package my tea into tins and it looks like you already found one. Can you share their info?

No info? OH well, I guess this only works one way….

Red Leaf, you did not reply directly to KaiMatcha. If they are not subscribed to this thread, they may not have seen your reply. Try contacting them directly? It is more likely that they did not see your question than it is that they are ignoring you, I think.

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Kally Tea said

Hi Steepsters, our site is www.kallytea.com
We have a few issues, but the latest is in agreement with an earlier post from Red Leaf Tea, Technical issues!
Grrrr!
We had one of our most aggressive sales over Labor Day weekend. Friday night through Monday night, no one could post orders! What a nightmare. We have never had any serious issues like that before and it has to happen then and for an extended weekend. And is was a big one, it took until Wednesday morning early to get it resolved. But Sally (my wife) said it’s old news, and forgotten. But man, what a crappy weekend. And who knows how many customers we lost. Technical issues for sure is the worst in my book.
For fraud though I’m banging (not knocking) on wood thankful we have not had that hit us yet. Good tip on the out of state delivery address though. Thanks for that one!
In closing, putting this post out here is a wonderful idea Red Leaf! Although we all are “competitors” the reality of it all is that there is plenty of business for all. We all have our different strong points and that shines through to our customers. It sure is tough to reach all of them as we don’t have the huge budgets like the Adagios and Teavanas of the world. But on sites like Steepster it seems to appear most patrons like the smaller companies as we tend to provide fresher as well as better innovative blends than the “big boys”. Together we can provide true honest pleasure to our customers in products as well as services.

I had my share of problems when I was making improvements to my old software. I would hire some less expensive “experts” from overseas and they would make some changes to my store, to add a new feature. After testing the new additions, it would work fine and I would pay them. Only a few days or couple weeks later I would find out that some other feature would stop working. Of course the “experts” would say that they did nothing wrong and they could fix it for extra fee. After a few new features and fixes, my program was so buggy, that I had to get a totally new one. Quite an expense. Since then I went with different shopping cart software (cs-cart) and any changes I need, are ONLY done by the guys that created that program, since nobody like them knows how it all works, and I don’t mean some parts. They know what features are connected with other options, so if they need to make a change somewhere, they know where else to change the code to make it all work well. Plus they give you 3 months warranty on all work. Can not say enough of good things about them…
Anyway, I still on occasion get some problems, created by me when I try to make improvements. That’s why I try to reward anyone that sends me an email and let’s me know that something is not working correctly. Without those emails, sometimes it can take a long time to find out why the orders are not coming any more.
I feel bad about your promotion, but I can beat our story. Listen to this: 2 years ago, on early December my store stopped working correctly and instead of my pages, some strange code would appear. It took 2 weeks to fix it. They were done by December 22nd, and by than the best month of the year was gone. I have spend money on fixing the software and not made any money. Needless to say, problems appeared 2 weeks later. That’s when I decided to get a new program.
Hope it all works better for you :-)

Kally Tea said

You sure got it too Red Leaf! Man, no matter how bad you think it is, there’s always someone who has it worse. I sure don’t envy that down time issue.
Agree on when we get an “idea” to make the shopping experience better, and the proverbial monkey wrench gets thrown in doesn’t it? Side note, ours was completely out of the blue, which added to our frustration. But at least it wasn’t over Xmas!
But all has been well, thank you for the well wishes.
Right back at ya!

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I wanted to find out how do you guys deal with returns.
I don’t have a lot of them, but when I do I’m afraid to put it back in sale in case someone has tampered with it and had some crazy idea on how to hurt other people, so every return goes to garbage. Am I to paranoid? What do you do?

We accept returns postmarked within 5 days of the customers receiving their package.If a tea hasn’t been opened it is restocked. If it has it is discarded. It is a waste but absolutely necessary to ensure everyone’s safety.

Do you find that allowing for returns helps your business? We do not accept returns but have been thinking about allowing for teaware returns.

We rarely have returns but when we do we find that the more accommodating we are the more appreciative the customer. I have had cases where a customer has returned a product and placed another order. Also, word of mouth for us small businesses is very important and the more positive things our customers can say the better. Having a great product isn’t enough these days. You really want your customers to have no reason to go anywhere else.

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Supplies (except tea):
Since getting different supplies like packaging does not make us compete, perhaps you can share some ideas, supplier or links to help everyone out.
For example: I used to use padded envelopes for my shipping, but found them to be bulky and heavy for shipping. Since than I use Tyvek envelopes:
http://alturl.com/rkq2y
They are light, so it does not add much weight, unlike padded envelopes. They are waterproof. May not seem important, until client calls that someone left the order by the door during rain.
Anyone else?
Help needed: I’m looking to find some company that can put may product into metal tins and seal it. Does anyone has any info on this?

Wish I could use those envelopes. Unfortunately, since we use bags for our products we have to use boxes to protect the tea. We use Uline and often look to see which boxes are on sale since they seem to have a fair amount of sales. Hmmm, sorry I can’t help with the tins. I’ve seen self sealing tins but you would still need to put the product in those tins.

I’m looking for cheap eco friendly pouches for tea. Anyone know where I can find some in the $.10 to $.20 per bag range? Unfortunately, the only eco friendly pouches I’ve found have been far more expensive than the regular ones.

I personally use these:
http://www.stockbagdepot.com/flat-pouches/aroma-metallize/2-oz-gold.html
I’m not sure if they are Eco-friendly though.

I think the eco-friendly ones are usually brown paper. Thanks for the recommendation though.

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Aloha everyone. My name is Elyse and I am building Tealet (www.tealet.com). We have been live since May and have been growing quickly. Our company is a bit different than other tea companies because we are a social enterprise that assumed a mission from a non-profit called the International Tea Farms Alliance. This mission is to connect tea growers with tea lovers. This mission is currently manifesting into a direct from grower marketplace and curated subscription. Changes are happening quickly as we adapt to the market and the new growers joining our network.
This discussion is very interesting for me because we have recently accepted funding from a VC firm in Silicon Valley and there is much pressure for us to scale and grow the business quickly. I was lucky enough to recruit a technical co-founder and media director that I can work with around the clock (literally, we share an apartment together in Silicon Valley and are working from when we wake up until the wee hours of the night). We have built a beautiful website and have started to pay for traffic via google adwords. These conversions have SUCKED so far, either because paid traffic is not relevant for our product or we are playing with the wrong keywords. We didn’t want to use free tea samples as our go-to strategy, but have started playing around with the strategy. We started building and managing communities on social networks and have started to give free tea to select parts of the community so we can test the conversions. For the part of the community that are supporters from the startup community conversions have been very high, we still don’t know why, but for the most part they are new tea lovers and the sample of tea we provided was probably the first time they ever experienced loose leaf tea. It is very important for us to provide a complete beginner’s experience. There is so much established competition that seasoned tea lovers trust, I think it is difficult for us new players to gain their trust.
Our highest conversions are from people that we can interact with face-to-face, but this offline marketing is not scalable. We are currently working on ways that we can engage with people on a really personal level. Finally, we have seen great success with video. I admit that we need to do more blogging, but it is so time consuming…
All in all, online tea sales is difficult, but I think there is plenty of opportunity for all of us if we find our own niche way to reach the ENORMOUSLY growing marketing. Good luck everyone!

I have done some PPC ads and the only once that made money was Google. I have hired some SEO “experts”, but with my budget and their expertise, the results were the same. Recently I have subscribed to an SEO system that I will be implementing after the New Year. Hopefully, the return will be better on this one.
I think I have noticed that in recent couple of years, the amount of tea sellers have increased dramatically and competition is fierce. It’s hard to sell tea when everyone else has the same product. Sure some are a bit better than other and the price varies a bit, but it looks to me that each one of us needs something that would set them apart from the others. Like David’s Teas, he makes custom blends, different each time. Wish I had this idea long time ago.
Just my 10c…

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Have you noticed that USPS has raised the rates A LOT for international shipping. For example shipping 3oz to Canada used to be $3.30 and now it’s $6.91. That’s more than DOUBLE. This makes me rethink the free shipping promo to our friends in Canada, UK and other countries.

Kally Tea said

Yes, we had a shock as well.
USPS is barely holding on to their business too. Rates just never end going up.
The PRC was supposed to curb these type of increases, so could you imagine what the rates would be if they were not there? And what happened to NAFTA?
We hate to put this burden on customers though.
Just gotta keep trying to sharpen the pencil!
EeeK!

Sil select said

As a Canadian Customer, I’d just like to say, that it’s greatly appreciated if you can give us the heads up if you are thinking about increasing the shipping costs or changing them in some way. Most unhappy about the huge increase as well – total shock to most

Kally Tea said

Yes, you are right, we are not doing anything in the foreseeable future, but we have to watch it closely. Believe me, we fight VERY HARD before we ever implement increases. We’re proud to say, we’ve been able to keep our prices right where they are!

We are a bit frustrated here. More than doubling rates is not very fair. We had to raise rates at least for now. The increase was just too extreme. Our lightest packaging weighs 6oz, so even for 1oz of tea that comes to 7oz. So, unfortunately our minimum shipping charge comes to $8.75 for Canadian customer (we only add $1.00 for packaging materials and package related costs). I’m looking into lighter packaging for our International customers and possibly doing a flat rate of $9.99 to Canada or maybe even distributing some costs by raising US rates a little.

Babble said

So I don’t know a whole lot about the business aspect, but do business owners have any sort of power? Could people possibly get together a petition for them to lower the rates? They doubled so much so quickly that it almost doesn’t seem fair.

Or is this one of those things that because the USPS is doing so badly, you have to take what you can get?

Unfortunately, it’s “my way or the highway” kind of deal :-(
We have no say so whatsoever

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Aloha everyone, this is Elyse from Tealet. I just wanted to let you guys know that we are currently launching a wholesale marketplace for tea retailers and shops to order tea online from our grower network. If you are interested in sourcing tea directly from the grower with stories, photos, and videos for you to share with your customers sign up for the program now and we’ll let you know when it will be ready: http://wholesale.tealet.com/
The wholesale marketplace will be different than our retail marketplace. We will not be handling the tea, only facilitating the relationship between you and the growers. All tea that you order will be shipped in bulk packaging from the farm to your facility. Some farmers will be selling their tea in retail packaging in bulk so retailers don’t even have to repack the tea. Prices will be right and quality will be top notch!

hi Elyse!

Aloha!

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wow, what a nice thread yall have here!

hi everyone, im not yet a tea seller but hope to be – real soon :)
i will probably be the smallest of all the small tea purveyors but we all gotta start somewhere, right?

i know that when you start a business, it is like a baby that requires attention 24/7..but i cannot do that and can operate only part-time because i will also be studying (it’s a long story) so i actually have a ways to go before im a real tea purveyor. (this is supposed to help you guys who are already established businesses to feel better about your problems, haha)

anyhows, my biggest problem right now is that i am based in the Philippines (that’s in Southeast Asia, below Japan above Indonesia)

well, where im based isnt really the problem as much as the hassle of having to go through customs (insert terrified face)

i know nothing of it, hahaha!

ok, i need help in pricing as well :)

I’m sorry to tell you that working part time may not bring the results you may expect. When I stated this business I was working 12-16h a day to generate some sales. 3 years later,now that I have a bit more sales, part of my time is used to prepare and pack the orders and rest to generate new orders and I still work about 12h a day.
It’s a competitive business where you are going against other people that are also starting tea business, but they are going to put a lot more hours into it. Just a friendly warning :-)
One advise I can give you is to get a partner to help you get it started.
Can not help you with customs since I’m not familiar your country laws. You may want to find some company that will help you with customs brokerage.

you are so sweet start this thread and help out! thanks Red Leaf Tea :)

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Hello all,

I love this thread and its so great to speak and learn from those who have been doing this for a while.

I am a purveyor of Pu’er Tea and I live in the land where TEA ORIGINATES. We are in Xishuangbanna and partnered with a family of Pu’er Tea(Sheng Chaa) Farmers here in Yiwu.

If anyone is interested in adding a very fine Pu’er Tea to their lineup, shoot me an email [email protected]

Cheers
Nicholas
Misty Peak Teas

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