This week I take a look at Tea E-Commerce sites. Specifically, to outline a number of key factors that contribute to them being classed as best practice. I list some examples below of Tea E-Commerce sites that best demonstrate these factors.
The key factors include:
Is the site offering a range to teas tailored to the online shopper or is it just trying to clear existing inventory that has been deleted from and cannot be sold through other channels? To be fair, I am sure the larger brands ranged in supermarkets would like to offer a broader range of products to sell directly on their website. However, they do risk upsetting their retail grocery customers if they do so.
Do I have a choice of pack sizes for the tea that I am looking for? Does the site offer a range of pyramid tea bags and loose leaf teas, rather than just traditional tea bags?
The site doesn’t necessarily need to offer every type of tea. They could service a specific area or niche. However, based on what they do service, how comprehensive is their range?
Tea and Sympathy offers a range of teas from China, Thailand and Vietnam. To cross promote the teas within each range and promote greater trial, they offer a sampler pack from each region, including the one below with five teas from Northern Thailand.
For each tea they stock, you have the choice of five different packaging options and sizes from a sampler pack up to a large stand up pouch.
Dilmah have an extensive range of teas from a single region, Sri Lanka.
Cloud Nine is another site focusing on a specific region, i.e. teas from Yunnan province in China, in particular the Pu-Er tea cakes.
Concept, Brand, Design & or Packaging Differentiation
Does the brand stand out versus it’s competitors on branding, design or packaging?
T2 uses bright bold colours in all their designs for packaging and accessories.
Slurptea have taken a distinctly novel visual approach for identifying each of the tea varietals in their range.
Just launched, Mr Earl is a premium tea subscription service, where each month a 50g box of three different loose leaf teas are delivered to your door. He is currently offering free shipping.
Update Apr 2015 – Whilst the website and social media accounts are still live, they have not been updated for over 6 months. The Mr Earl business subscription model does not appear to have been successful.
Payment Method, Delivery & Shipping
How does the site handle payments?. Is shipping information easy to find on the front page? Do I need to set up an account to find out what the shipping rate is? Is customer service information clearly communicated?
If I am ordering for Xmas, is it clear when I need to place the order to ensure delivery by Xmas time.
There is a wide variety in the shipping charges between sites. T2 currently have free standard shipping. Tea and Sympathy offer free shipping for orders over $10. Others can charge a flat rate anywhere from $2 to $12. The Tea Centre also offer a 20% discount for the first order.
The most common shipping charge is a variable rate depending on the weight/size of the order and where it will be shipped to.
Harney & Sons and Carlisle Tea (as part of the Coffee Company), offer a clear shipping and service page respectively detailing shipping costs with a link from their home page. Other sites force you to go through the process of setting up an account or partly placing an order to find out what the shipping costs will be.
Does the site include additional useful information such as tasting notes, source of origin, water temperature, brewing time, food matching or recipes?. Are there site/professional reviews and customer reviews?. Does the site offer suggestions or similar types of tea that I might like or others have bought after a similar search?
Do they offer any additional education or training resource materials for those who would like some additional information about tea?
In the leadup to Xmas are there gift suggestions or specials for Xmas? Can they be gift wrapped and have personalised messages added to them?.
All T2 orders are gift wrapped and for an additional nominal fee you can add a personalised gift card.
NB: Throughout the whole T2 site, the font treatment and layout through could be improved to make it more readable.
The Tea Centre use simple icons to communicate brewing time, water temperature and what other products it matches with including milk and lemon. Consumer ratings where entered are also listed underneath.
Update Apr 2015 – The Tea Centre website was updated and relaunched
Update May 2016 – The Tea Centre launches new App
i Tea capitalise on the Xmas selling period by prominently communicating Xmas gift ideas and offering an extensive range.
T2, The Tea Centre and Tea and Sympathy also regularly run educational tea classes and workshops in their stores.
Is the site intuitive to use and easy to navigate?. Can I find the information that I am looking without excessive click throughs and scrolling?. Sorting and filtering of available teas? Are there visuals of what the package, tea leaves/bags and the colour of the tea look like.
Through a clean uncluttered design, T Bar are able to communicate a lot of information but still being relatively easy to read with a minimum of scrolling.
The Tea Centre make it very easy to navigate their site and sort by type or filter by other characteristics
The Lupicia website is clearly laid out, easy to navigate and shows side by side the raw tea leaves as well as the colour of the brewed tea in most cases.
by Konrad Markham
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