Herbie said

Help us build the greatest e-shop for you

Hello Steepster community!

We are starting up an online tea shop and want to create something what every tea lover would enjoy. In order to do that, we need your help so please share your experiences.

Our main idea: quality tea does not have to be expensive (and our initial calculations support that). To ensure quality we will buy supplies only from wholesalers who comply with EU regulation on organic farming (Euro-leaf).

What we would like you to do is share your experiences with online tea shops:
- What is the most important thing for you as a customer when buying tea (not neccesarily online)?
- Something specific that you liked? (e.g. quick delivery, product range, etc.)
- Something specific that you did not like?
- What would make you buy from 1 shop only?
- Any other feedback?

Thanks in advance!

26 Replies

Ok, I’ll bite.

“What is the most important thing for you as a customer when buying tea”
That I trust the seller! Don’t oversell your teas – be honest when you describe them. If you try to sell me tea from thousand year old trees for 100 bucks you will never see a cent of my money. If you want to pass on some unverified information you got when you sourced the tea then state clearly that it is unverified. If you sell factory tea do everything in your power to make sure it’s genuine.

“Something specific that you liked?”
Cheap shipping alternatives, even if very slow. EU compliant and/or organic products.

“Something specific that you did not like?”
Being lied to. Tea sellers who behave like used car salesmen.

“What would make you buy from 1 shop only?”
Probably nothing. I like to shop around.

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Babble said

- What is the most important thing for you as a customer when buying tea (not neccesarily online)?
Solid steepster reputation

- Something specific that you liked? (e.g. quick delivery, product range, etc.)
In-depth knowledge of the product

- Something specific that you did not like?
Overexaggerated health claims.

- What would make you buy from 1 shop only?
I agree that I do like to shop around but loyalty programs definitely keep me coming back as a customer.

- Any other feedback?
I like seeing more vendors do youtube channels. Helps me to connect with them more.

I agree regarding the health claims. Those are annoying.

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Everune said

“- What is the most important thing for you as a customer when buying tea (not neccesarily online)?”

I mostly look for tea quality, buying the nicest stuff I can afford.

“- Something specific that you liked? (e.g. quick delivery, product range, etc.)”

I like to be able to order samples of tea, to try before I sink too much money in a tea. I also like a short explanation of what to expect out of the tea, flavor wise. Another thing I enjoy when ordering tea that is also good for business is paying for my shipping if I order enough. It encourages me to indulge and buy more teas, which is good for you.

“- Something specific that you did not like?”
I don’t like websites that are difficult to navigate.

“- What would make you buy from 1 shop only?”

There is probably nothing that could convince me to buy from only one shop, unless all of my favorites merged together.

“- Any other feedback?”

Good Luck!

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Herbie said

Hi,

Thanks for very quick and constructive feedback! Nice to see that we were not completely missing the target with our initial thoughts :)

Could you give more input on product range as well? We aim to start with up to 20 different teas and build up from there. If you are looking for something specific, there is a very high chance that we will not have it in our shop until we get our business running:
- Would you as a customer ask if a company can get/will have some product soon, even though you did not find it in the webshop?
- Would a contact-us form encourage you to do that?

We are happy to find a ‘customized’ solution for our clients, even if we do not make money out of it, but how do we ensure to get their wishes? Personally, if I do not find something in a shop, I look to another one. Any thoughts on how to avoid such situation?

Babble said

The only times I contact a site to see if they have a product is if they’ve had it in stock before.

I would not think to ask a shop if they could get a product they do not have UNLESS they advertise that this a service they could provide. Although with so many choices for tea shops I don’t know if this is necessarily something someone will seek out unless it’s a really obscure tea.

Dr Jim said

You obviously don’t understand Steepster if you think a shop with 20 teas will get us to buy only from you. I have to admit I’m a sucker for free shipping and sales. However, I’m also fairly conservative and tend not to be an early adopter; I wait for the reviews. Samples help a lot. Starting out, you might want a relatively low cost sample set just to introduce yourself.

Ask yourself what you can offer that the 700 or so other shops reviewed on steepster don’t have.

Herbie said

Thank you for your feedback guys! Regarding product range – we have access to ~1000 high quality teas and a possibility to blend custom teas. But we do need to start somewhere and build up the product range as we go. Regarding samples: we plan to offer teas in quantities as low as 10g, does it make sense to call these samples?

Ken said

10 grams is a good size for a sample, as it gives you 2 5 gram tastings.

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AllanK said

There is no way you can build a site that will convince me to only buy from your shop, unless you could suddenly take ownership of Yunnan Sourcing, Chawangshop, Whhite2Tea, Simpson and Vail, and a half dozen others I forgot to mention, but as none of these stores are for sale you cannot do this. Therefore don’t even attempt to make me buy from only your shop as only a direct act of God Almighty could cause this and I don’t think you have the connections.

Herbie said

We’ll shoot for the moon and if we miss – we’ll hit the stars, which is also quite good :) the way I see it, if we try and succeed – you win, and if we try and fail – you do not lose anything. Anyway, thank you for giving some names of the shops you like, we’ll use these for inspiration :)

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AllanK said

Also, if you really want to build the greatest e shop for tea prepare to take a long while. The best e shops for tea have hundreds or even thousands of choices. My favorite tea vendor from Aliexpress had 4000 different teas before Aliexpress banned the selling of tea. It would take most e shop owners quite a while to build up to even a hundred choices and many of them don’t have that. My favorite vendor for loose tea that is not puerh would be Simpson and Vail. They carry some 350 different teas. I don’t think you can initially match anywhere near this. In short if you are going to become the number one e shop you are talking ten or twenty years from now because that is how long it would probably take to reach goals like some of your competition already has. Yunnan Sourcing, my favorite shop in China, probably has at least 800 different teas from Puerh to green, white, black, hei cha, and herbal. There is no way you can initially compete with a shop like Yunnan Sourcing and you are fooling yourself if you think you can. The basic fact is you will probably never be able to offer teas for the prices that Yunnan Sourcing does with them being in China and dealing with a lot less middle men in the tea trade.

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Herbie said

Hello all,

Thank you for all the feedback! For the past month we have been working very intense on the concept and currently are in the testing phase. We will start crowdfunding campaign on the 1st of August and ship out first orders in September. Until then, we would really appreciate if you looked at our website and FB page and came back with any additional feedback you have! Thanks again, so far you guys have been very constructive and helpful! We hope that you will see the potential in this project and help it to succeed

https://www.organicherbie.com
https://www.facebook.com/OrganicHerbie/

AllanK said

I took a look at your website. I gather from the fact that your prices are in Euros that you are from somewhere in the E.U. I thought you were US. I am most likely to buy my tea from China first, America second, and any other countries last.

Herbie said

Fair enough. The location is unfortunately something that we cannot change at the moment :) just out of curiosity, what are the factors for you to choose US retailers above UK, German, French, etc. retailers? Food safety/quality certifications, shipping distance, currency exchange rates?

AllanK said

I would say I choose a US retailer first if I can get what I want because the shipping price is lowest and uaually free if I spend over some amount. From China there are good shipping options too. Plus there are things I can get from China that I can’t get somewhere else. There are a couple of European stores I have bought from but not many. If a European retailer had something I cannot get elsewhere like Puerh.SK than I would be more likely to buy from them.

Herbie said

In our case, we are offering free worldwide shipping. The shipping cost does not change that much due to distance so we decided to remove that part. The only problem is the delivery time – it is 3-5 business days within EU vs 5 – 15 business days anywhere else, but we hope that free shipping will make up for it, until we get a faster solution. The other part is product range and we will continuously expand that. Thanks a lot for your input and I hope that at some point we will be able to find what you are looking for at our store :)

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Think about the different type of tea drinkers there are out there and try to focus on what their wants and needs and wants are. Are you going after the serious tea drinker who is looking for rare high quality tea, or the more casual drinker who shops at places like DavidsTea? That’s a kind of question you need to ask yourself. Like you guys I started out with about 20 products and tried to offer a diverse product line. The problem was that for most people it either wasn’t diverse enough with only twenty varieties OR it wasn’t deep enough (I only had one type of oolong). It might be better to focus on one type of tea and build from there.

I also have to say that selling online is so tough. Many of the companies out there have a huge head start on young companies like ours. The amount of effort it takes to run a business successfully is roughly 10x harder than one will initially think it is. You are going to have to put in ten times the effort your opponents are putting in.

One advantage I think you have over North American companies is that you can sell to the Russians at a much cheaper shipping rate than us North American companies. If I were you guys I would be marketing to Russians a lot.

Herbie said

Hi Panda,

These are very good insights and food for thought. Thanks!
We ended up having ~100 different teas (15 – 20 per category) and will build up from there. Regarding shipping rates – we tried to set up our business in a way that shipping costs are not that different per country so we will offer free worldwide shipping. The only problem may be the delivery time, but we do hope that free delivery will compensate for that and we aim to improve the delivery time once we scale the business.

Cool! Glad I could help out. Hope you can sell a lot of tea!

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Hey there.. It was nice reading all these suggestions.. I am from Sri Lanka, the producer of Ceylon Tea, the best in the World. I am from a company called Stassen which supplies the best quality black and green tea in every from.

I’m not here just trying to sell, but looking at your idea, i wanna suggest our tea to you and i can guarantee you will not turn down the offer once you try our samples..

In case you are interested, please check our our website www.stassentea.com or write to me on [email protected]

I will be more than happy to assist you in whatever way possible..

Wishing you all the very best with the online store..

Herbie said

Hi,

Thanks for information. We’ll investigate and get in touch

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Herbie said

We will be launching a crowdfubding campaign on the 1st of August and will have some attractive offers for our supporters. You can sign up for the campaign’s mailing list and among other things get a 10% discount code for our store valid from 1st September! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/organic-herbie-tea-for-you-everywhere/coming_soon

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