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Online Ordering?

I have a serious question, I have just opened an online Tea retailer and I am wondering a few things…..

  1. How many people actually do order tea online?
  2. Is there a quality difference between an online retailer, and a brick and mortar store?
  3. What should I do to help promote my site across the US?
  4. How often do those of you who do order online actually order tea?

Thank you in advance, and please come and visit us at www.ThatTeaShop.com

38 Replies
Cofftea said

I order tea online. Infact I have only purchased tea at a brick and mortar shop a handful of times. (Only 2 B&M shops in the area and no transporation most of the time)

Quality difference, no. Higher chance of coming across something one doesn’t like ordering online? Yes. (I’m basing this on the asssumption that most B&M shops let you either sample in store, let you smell the teas, and/or buy in small quantities). That’s why I think samples are absolutely vital for an online company. A money back guarantee means nothing to me since I know tea almost always has to be thrown out if returned and I think throwing out tea, no matter how vile, is wrong.

I order tea at least once a month (Thank you steepster and 52 teas lol!).

Cofftea said

Oops, I misread your 4th question… I thought it said “How often do those of you who do order ONline actually order tea?”- my new answer is maybe once a year unless I go on vacation and get some.

I actually mistyped, to be clear, you order Tea online about once a month? and IF I can ask, about how much do you order?

Cofftea said

Yes. I order online at least once a month.

Amount really varies. Do I need one of my staples? (I buy chai by the pound) Am I just buying new things? What deals are offered? Am I buying just for myself this month or am I buying gifts?

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TY for answering my questions.
I will ask this though, how would an online retailer do samples? OR do you mean a sampler pack? IF that is the case, then that shouldn’t be too hard.

Again, thanks for your answers.

Cofftea said

I like individual samples (enough for 1 or 2 cups is fine) because there is, inevitably, 1 tea in every prepackaged sampler pack I do not like. A lot of people will disagree w/ me, but I think if you are going to be generous with your samples and put more than 2 cups worth in it, the packaging must be opaque and resealable. If they are 1-2 cups worth, packaging must still be opaque as it may take a person a while to drink a given sample (especially if they are like me and have a tea stash made primarily of samples).

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As I am now getting out of the retail tea business, I am purchasing more tea retail. When I was very active in my business, I didn’t buy tea online very often because, well, I didn’t really need to. I had a lot of tea of my own to drink!

Anyways… to answer your questions…

1. How many people actually do order tea online? I order online more often than I purchase tea from a Brick & Mortar. 2. Is there a quality difference between an online retailer, and a brick and mortar store? I don’t think there is a quality difference… but it would really depend upon who the supplier of the store (whether it be brick & mortar or online) is. 3. What should I do to help promote my site across the US? Marketing is my biggest weakness… so I can’t really offer you much advice there. 4. How often do those of you who do order online actually order tea? I order tea every month… sometimes, every week. It really depends on what entices me. I’d like to say that it depends upon my current stock of tea, but, it doesn’t, my teacup runneth over with tea but, I still buy tea like I’m running low on it.
Cofftea said

RE: “I order tea every month… sometimes, every week. It really depends on what entices me. I’d like to say that it depends upon my current stock of tea, but, it doesn’t, my teacup runneth over with tea but, I still buy tea like I’m running low on it.” … that is such a ditto statement it isn’t even funny. (Ahem… says the woman who recently spent $113 in one day on a total of 12oz of matcha- half for a friend… if Frank EVER tempts me to do that again I will arrive at his door step w/ my dog and pillow needing to camp out on his couch LOL!)

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Hey, just wanted to say thanks to all of you for your responses. I noticed that a few of you have clicked through to my site, (TYVM for that) now I was wondering IF anyone had any advice for the actual site itself. Again any help is always appreciated.

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Just as a heads up, we now have sample baskets for sale. I want to thank everyone again for your feedback. It has helped alot.

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Was hoping that someone might have a little advice for us. We want to be able to accomodate all types of tea drinkers. SO IF you guys and girls could give us a bit of feedback it would be an awesome thing. Thanks again.

Cofftea said

As far as sample sizes 1oz is fine- you don’t need to go out of your way to go smaller. It’s generous, yet not too big. You definitely don’t want to go too small- Golden Moon has a full inventory sampler set, but some aren’t big enough for a full cup!:(

LauraR said

I actually think that 10g sizes are big enough for a sample with most teas. I like to have enough for 2-3 cups with samples. I also feel that samples best come in something resealable. I know that The NecessiTeas and some other companies actually sell resealable tea pouches on their site and I like being able to purchase them to share tea with others. You could look for something like those. I often place an order that consists of maybe one larger size tea and a whole bunch of samples. If I fall in love with something, then I am usually back to place another order in a short period of time. Samples are a necessity for online tea companies….in my opinion.

Cofftea said

I agree that 10g is plenty (especially for something like pu erh) LauraR. I just couldn’t find the samples on the site for some reason so I didn’t know how big they were. But I did know they have 1oz sizes of a lot (unfortunately not all) of their teas. I agree that a sample should be big enough to make at least 2 cups. I like to try all teas both hot and cold (except for chais I try them 4 ways- hot, hot w/ milk, cold, and cold w/ milk) and to be fair they both need to be 1st infusions.

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Laura, Coffee, thank you very much for your feedback. So I should be making the sample size less than two ounces of each tea? IF that is the case, it should not be that hard. Now, should I be offering more than 4 different tea types? OR do you think it will be fine? Again, I really appreciate all the help.

Cofftea said

Yes! I do not consider 2oz of tea to be a sample at all. 1oz is even pushing it to be called a sample (although I like that size for trying something new I’d be pretty sure to like). IMO 4.5g-1oz can be considered a sample size that I would purchase. I might be more likely to buy 1oz of chai though if the sample sizes are small since I use 1 heaping teaspoon (1 heaping tsp of my fave chai weighs 4g) and I like to try it 4 ways. 2.25-3g may be perfectly acceptable to some people, but as a business owner remember you are then only giving the customer 1 chance to try that tea and form 1st impressions. Most people won’t buy 2 duplicate samples in the same order and if they do not like it the way they prepared it (for example, hot clean), they may not repurchase it to try it a different way they would probably like better (for example, cold clean). Our society is unfortunately horrible at getting past 1st impressions at times. I also really like when the weight of the sample is listed on the website for me to see. You never see tea for sale w/o listing the weight or number of bags so I don’t think samples should be any different.

4g-6g samples are plenty to me, i want to try the tea, and if i like the cup or two i make i’ll buy more

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OK, apparently I was wrong, I was talking to my wife and she just told me that it isn’t a sample set, it is a gift set, one that a person can get all of their favorite teas from our site in one convenient package. I apologize for the confusion, we are still working on the sampler box. BUT for right now, it is a gift set.

Cofftea said

I do love it though! I LOVE the tins. What do they say on them? I also love the DIY aspect of it, not something you see w/ gift sets. But yes, due to the size of each tin, it is not a sample set.

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Sadly I was not able to find out what the symbols actually say. We have updated a few things on the site, please go take a look, there is a nice Black Tea Oriental Spices Chai. Anyone who enjoys Chai, please go and enjoy. Thanks again for all the help everyone.

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dborregoa said

Not sure if you are still looking for info since you posted this a while back, but here are my 2 cents.

I personally prefer to shop at a brick and mortar store, but end up shopping online more often because I can find a greater variety. My local tea merchant has a decent selection of different teas, but not necessarily a wide selection of similar teas.

Most of the tea I buy comes from an online site, and yes, I can find higher quality teas than what I can get locally. In short, I would prefer to buy locally but have to buy online out of necessity.

dborregoa said

Seems like I forgot to address 2 of your questions.
I buy online about once a month, when I’m close to running out.
There are many things you can do to promote your site. From a customer’s perspective, the first 2 things I look for in an online retailer are fair shipping prices and reputation. Some online retailers are BBB accredited and that often is enough to establish reputation (the quality of the teas being another important factor).

When I was new to tea I ran a google search for “gourmet tea” and came across some reputable dealers I still use. You might want to consider google as they offer lots of business solutions to online retailers.

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