Monday, November 19, 2012

Tea Business Spotlight 13 - Enjoy Better Tea

Welcome to the thirteenth of our Tea Business Spotlights, in which we allow tea people to share insights on running their business. If you're a tea business owner and you'd like to take part in an upcoming spotlight, please contact us.

Enjoy Better Tea
Worthington, Ohio

How long have you been in business?
I first started selling coffee and tea online in 2006, so more than 6 years.

What is the size/scope of your business?
We import Pickwick tea and Douwe Egberts coffee from the Netherlands, along with many other imported and premium brands. We do buy a small portion of our products from US distributors. We sell tea through our website In addition to retail sales, we have a wholesale business line with some small specialty stores.

Why tea?
Originally, we were focused on imported coffee so tea came up naturally as an addition to our business. Our focus is on premium tea, imported by distinctive tea producers, often with long and storied histories.

How did you get the ball rolling on your venture?
I started out having a small ebay store where I sold some of my favorite coffees and teas. I spent weekends, then later weekday evenings too, in procuring products, filling orders and mailing the packages. As my business grew, I involved my wife and 3 daughters to help with the packing and mailing of orders. Eventually, I hired a part-time assistant, and a few months later, I quit my day job in Information Technology. Today, I have a staff of 4 full time and 2 part time employees, and I am looking to hire a new salesperson. My wife and daughters still help out too!

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your business?
We have a great selection of tea products all at reasonable prices. In fact, we get that feedback often, that our prices are very good.

What were/are the biggest challenges of getting into/being in the tea business?
The obvious challenge of being in the tea business is the amount of competition in the marketplace. Quality tea is available in a lot of different places. Our goal is to offer premium tea at exceptional prices and by doing that, be a leader in the marketplace.

What would you do differently, if anything?
I can honestly say I wouldn’t do anything differently. My plan is to continue to build on my sites, adding new products as I find them, and continue to challenge the competition.

How's business?
Business is good. When the tea site first started, we had 5 tea brands and business was slow, but steady. Today, we offer more than 11 premium brands, along with tea-making accessories, and we have many repeat customers. Because we offer a subscription service for both coffee and tea orders, we have a strong, loyal customer group. We also offer discounts in our newsletters – the tea newsletter is published and sent once a month – and we are on Facebook, Twitter and we have our coffee blog, with a section devoted specifically to tea. (We have a very beneficial relationship with a social media consultant at The Pink Anvil folks handle our online presence - and they are taking new clients!)

What advice would you give to someone who aspires to be in the tea business?
Think about the approach you want to take in the market. You want your idea/product/service to be at least somewhat unique. That is, offer something different, or offer something old in a new or unusual way.

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker

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