How To Sell Coffee Online
Starting an eCommerce business to sell coffee online is an attractive business model. Youâll have a variety of suppliers to choose from, flavors to experiment with, and profit to gain.
Coffee is one of the best wholesale items to sell, so it may be worthwhile learning how to become a wholesaler and getting a wholesale dealer license. Profitability also depends on your final prices, so itâs important to understand the difference between wholesale price vs. retail price and .
Since coffee is already a large market, youâll need to be strategic and discerning in how you draw in customers. Hereâs what you need to know to start your online coffee business.
Who You Are Going To Sell Coffee To
Who will your online coffee customers be?
Will your customers buy your coffee from you primarily online? Will your customers be other coffee shop businesses, cafes, and small local grocery markets? Or a combination of both?
Fortunately, you can start small.
You can start with your friends, family, co-workers, and social media followers. After you feel proficient enough, you can offer your roasted coffee beans to your local coffee shop or even your local mini-market. From there, you can grow as large as you want.
You will most likely have two types of main customers:
- Individual customers and,
- Local coffee shops and restaurants.
Each of these groups has different needs for their coffee, so it will be essential to develop winning strategies to approach them and deliver exactly what they want.
Coffee shops and cafes will want larger orders of whole bean coffee. Coffee shops prefer whole bean coffees because they stay fresher longer. Once you grind up coffee, the shelf life of coffee begins to decrease quickly. Coffee shops could order 50 lbs. to 250 lbs. of coffee per week , so youll want to be prepared for that type of volume you need to ship out.
On the other hand, individual coffee customers will buy smaller bags ranging from one 12 oz. bag to 3 lbs. bags of coffee at a time.
Build Your Brand Online And Offline
Building your brands social media presence is another excellent digital marketing strategy to drive traffic to your site and increase sales. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram also allow you to connect with your customers and build a stronger network. Having a large social media following also benefits your brand by making it appear more reputable and trustworthy.
Facebook is a great way to reach a large audience, as it currently has 2.23 billion active monthly users worldwide, and in the U.S., . By creating a Facebook page or group for your online coffee business, you can build deeper relationships with customers and have conversations with them directly in comments on your posts.
Because of its visual focus, Instagram is an excellent site for showcasing your products, as well as reaching a younger demographic. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of people in the U.S. between the age of 18 and 24 are Instagram users. This demographic also loves coffee and has driven the growth in gourmet coffee consumption in recent years. Instagram allows your company to connect with people through branded and popular hashtags and is an excellent way to show the personality of your company.
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Decide On The Products You’re Going To Sell
We touched on this a little bit in the above section, but you must decide how the products you’re going to sell will differentiate you from other online coffee sellers.
For instance, are you just going to focus on selling coffee online, or are you going to add other products like baked goods, coffee-related gifts, coffee-infused foods, and branded merchandise, like mugs? Again, it’s good to start small, but adding new products as you scale keeps customers curious.
Another thing you may eventually consider is whether to sell coffee machines online. These can be profitable and you might be able to market a specific machine that has proven to enhance the coffee you sell.
If you don’t want to keep an inventory of coffee machines or other products on hand, you can always choose to dropship this part of your business and still roast your own coffee. Just be sure to keep your niche in focus as you expand.
Develop Your Online Coffee Brand
You can offer the most amazingly delicious coffee, but you will be hard-pressed to sell any of it if you have a poorly developed coffee brand and marketing strategy.
Your coffee brand plays a pivotal role in your online sales.
The trust your coffee brand creates with your customers will be the only way they can determine whether or not to buy your coffee.
As a part of your coffee brand, your name and slogan will help customers either remember you or quickly forget your business. And you don’t want them to forget about you!
While you want to choose a memorable coffee business name, you also want it to be clear and concise. Additionally, it should be easy to spell, pronounce, and find online.
Choose a coffee business name and create a logo that people can easily remember, trust, and embody your coffee business’s purpose.
If you need help creating your logo, consider getting a freelance graphic designer at 99Designs or Upwork.com.Once created, utilize your logo on your website, social media accounts, and coffee bags that you are selling.
Once you get your logo, create an ink stamp of your logo to be used on your coffee bags. The look of your coffee bags and packaging will go a long way for customers in determining whether to buy from you.
How To Sell Coffee Online From Home Step #4
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Meeting With Local Buyers: Pitch Your Product And Earn Placements In Stores
Connecting with retail buyers is a matter of persistence. There are marketplaces and agencies that can help you get in front of people, but when youre starting out, theres nothing as powerful as the in-person pitch.
- Start with local stores and regional distributors. Trying to pitch Whole Foods right off the bat is a recipe for disappointment. Buyers from local stores are generally eager to work with local businesses, are more accessible, and have less red tape to deal with.
- Start cold calling and door knocking. Call stores and ask to speak to buyers. Send cold emails directly to a buyer when you can find their contact details. Drop off coffee samples for the team to enjoy and make sure to leave a 1-2 page sell sheet that tells buyers why your coffee is so special as they sample your coffee. Remember, persistence is key!
- Be prepared to tell your story. Stores already sell coffee, and buyers hear pitches every day, so be ready to demonstrate what your coffee means for the stores customers. Does it satisfy a particular niche? Is there something unique about your process or values? Rehearse your story and break your key messages down into quick, bite-sized arguments.
- Present a marketing plan. Grocery stores need to know your coffee will sell without them having to market your products for you. Presenting a plan for how youll inspire customers to buy your coffee from the store is sure to get a few impressed looks.
How To Start Selling Coffee Online In 10 Steps
Selling coffee from your home can be fun and challenging, whether it is your career, pastime or supplementary income. If you want to get started selling coffee from home, but do not know where to start, follow these instructions for starting a coffee business online.
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Start Selling Coffee Online
One of the better strategies is to create an online store of your own. Affiliate marketing is a good option if you do not want to deal with packing & shipping or customer service.
I wouldnt recommend joining a multilevel marketing company to sell coffee. You often end up spending more than youll ever bring in.
Opening your own store is simple with the right software. In this case, I recommend trying out Shopify. You can have your own store in minutes.
Then it is a matter of customizing your store with the products that you want to carry.
Coffee Stores That Use Shopify
There are some successful coffee companies that use Shopify for their businesses. Some of them include:
Determine What Coffee Products You Will Sell
Once you know who you will sell to, you can determine what type of coffee products will best fit their needs.
You may want to experiment with different product offerings such as coffee boxes, coffee gift sets, or subscription types of orders for those that want to have the same coffee blend delivered every 1st of the month.
While you will want to determine what your competitors are doing, you also want to offer something different or novel. Perhaps, you will like to offer a specialized gift service or a type of specialized blend.
Our friends at Bohemian Roastery offer wood-fired coffee that provides a different flavor that is hard to get anywhere else. Additionally, you may want to sell other related coffee products, such as coffee mugs, coffee t-shirts, or coffee-BBQ rub. The possibilities are endless!
How To Sell Coffee Online From Home Step #3
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Begin Creating Online Content
Creating outstanding content for your website is essential to selling your coffee. Here are a few types of content you will need to create for your online coffee business.
- High-quality photos. People want to see what they are buying before they make a purchase, so fill your site with high-quality photos of your coffee. Include multiple views of your coffee packaging and coffee beans, as well as photos of people brewing or enjoying your coffee. Choose images that engage the senses and are aesthetically appealing. When customers can visualize the product in action, they are more likely to make a purchase.
- Detailed product descriptions. Make sure to include detailed product descriptions that describe the flavor notes of each coffee product. Compelling copy will engage potential buyers, as well as helping them choose the right coffee for their tastes.
- Other written content. Use sales copy, blog posts, and other written content to develop your brand voice and share your companys story. Compelling and interesting written content will help customers feel connected with you and your coffee brand, which will lead to more sales. People love to support brands they can trust and relate to, so fill your site with real and genuine content that your customers will enjoy.
So Why Do Most Coffee Shops Fail
Answers to this question are likely to be multi-faceted and will vary from one cafe owner to the next, but the consistent underlying pattern will be failing to plan.
The same is true of selling coffee through an online channel. Most online coffee websites fail because they didn’t take into account the exact costs and efforts required to operate.
To avoid making those mistakes, the full end to end steps you need to take to sell online need to be outlined and considered.
This would include everything from sourcing the coffee, roasting the coffee , shipping and storing the coffee, and building and promoting the website.
Other sticky details include ensuring payment processing is facilitated, a clear way of handling returns and customer service is understood, and packaging the coffee.
Fortunately, in this next section we’ll outline the steps you need to take to start planning accordingly.
Starting a Coffee Business Online
In this section we’ll outline the steps you need to take to start a business selling coffee online along with different approaches you can take to building the business.
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Coffee Shop Supply Specialists
Were proud to offer both wholesale coffee shop supplies and the knowledge youll need to make the most of your machines and setup. Our reps have their own experience in the coffee shop scene to offer. We can walk you through everything from best brewing methods to menu planning, shop layout, and more.
We dont just offer coffee shop supplies wholesale we give you all the tools you need to craft your ideal customer experience.
If youd like to gain more confidence in using and maintaining your brewing equipment or gain insight in designing your best customer experience, were ready to help. Give us a call or check out our menu of coffee supplies and wholesale products here.
Be Patient When Price Is An Issue
If that new restaurant decides on another coffee roaster with prices, quality, and service similar to yours, well, it happens to all of us. For every aspect of closing a sale that is under our control, there are a dozen things that are not under our control. Move on. But if you lose the account to a roaster with prices significantly lower than yours , its likely that coffee is on a list of things we can fix later, like the wrong shade of paint in the restrooms. Dont be pushy, of course, but drop coffee off when there is a reason, like holidays or the anniversary of their opening, stay in touch with the aforementioned bartender, and eat at the restaurant occasionally.
Everyone involved in opening a new restaurant is in an anxiety-filled free fall for months, waiting to see if they are among the 40% that fly or the 60% that splat. There will be panicked changes to the menu and shake-ups in the kitchen, but eventually, if/when things stabilize, the fine tuning will begin. The bathrooms will be repainted, the wait staff will stop wearing ties and start wearing jeans, and one day somebody will say, Hey, dont you think our coffee should be as good as our desserts?
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Selling Coffee Online You Will Take On The Following Roles:
- website designer
- inventory manager
- customer service representative
When it comes to starting an online business, thats just the way it often is you are a one-person band. All of these take some time to get your footing. Start slow, be methodical, and patient. Try not to get overwhelmed.
If you hang in there and stick with it, you will have a better chance of reaching your goal!
Private Label Coffee Roasters
The private label coffee roasters will be providing the product you will be focused on selling. While in most ways you are their customer it’s probably better to think of them as a partner. The better a relationship you develop and the better you collaborate ultimately the more you will find your product and retailing operation improve.
Most private label suppliers will go beyond simply providing coffee beans. To secure private label clients many of them will offer services including custom roasting, packaging, and access to experts who can help you make decisions in developing a coffee that reflects the product and brand you are looking to build. Many roasters will also offer a choice of blends they’ve already pre-selected.
Since these companies are also responsible for importing the coffee beans from their place of origin they will also take on the burden of the various certifications one can acquire. Depending on your brand and your priorities, certifications like “Organic”, “Fair Trade”, and “Bird-Friendly” are likely ones you’ll want to inquire about.
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What You Need To Know About Coffee Roasting
Coffee might not be exactly what you think it is. In fact coffee beans aren’t even technically beans.
Coffee, the beverage so many know and love, is made by roasting the seeds found in the berries of some types of “Coffea” plants and trees. The two most common plants used are Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora .
Coffea trees grow best in mild temperatures and need frequent rain to thrive. The average coffee tree can yield roughly 0.9kg of coffee beans per year.
The fruit from those trees is almost always handpicked and the seeds are extracted.
And so we’ve come to refer to those seeds as “coffee beans”, and they provide the first ingredient needed to make coffee.
Determine Whom You Are Going To Sell To
As an online coffee brand, you will have two main types of customers: individual buyers and local coffee shops or other businesses. Each group has very different needs in a coffee provider, so it is essential to know your target audience before determining what type of coffee your brand will sell. While cafes may prefer to buy larger bags of whole beans so they can grind them fresh daily, a busy restaurant may prefer pre-portioned ground coffee for quick and consistent brewing. Individual buyers will likely shop for single-serve capsules or bags of whole or ground coffee beans they can use at home.
Different customers will also have different concerns when it comes to the flavor and quality of their coffee. Some people prefer rich, dark roasts, while others enjoy caffeinated light roasts. Some coffee lovers prioritize specialty or third-wave coffee and want to know the origin and source of their coffee beans. Other customers may seek organic or fair-trade coffee.
Choosing a niche market for your coffee brand is often the best method for narrowing your customer base. Rather than trying to create coffee that appeals to everyone, you can focus your efforts on one group of coffee drinkers. This strategy will allow you to specialize your coffee flavor profiles, marketing efforts and company branding to your customer base.
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How To Become A Coffee Distributor
For a coffee lover, becoming a coffee distributor can be the ideal marriage of business and pleasure. No matter your target demographic, it’s important to become knowledgeable in the production and types of coffee from various regions of the world. Your knowledge of coffee, in addition to your ability to procure different varieties, will make you a helpful resource to area restaurants, stores and gourmands.
Taste different types of coffee. Hold a tasting in your shop or with your friends and family and find out which coffee you like the most. You will be better able to sell coffee that you like to drink.
Contact the makers of the brand of coffee you want to distribute. Find out if they have a specific distribution program or if you can purchase their coffee wholesale and sell it on your own. Make sure you understand what the minimum orders are and any other fees and costs for which you will be responsible.
Take orders from your clients and place the order with the coffee wholesaler with whom you are working.
Stay in contact with your clients. Don’t be pesky and bother them all the time for new orders, but make a habit of stopping in every week or so to have coffee and let them know about new discounts or products that come out.