Evaluating Online Tea Stores

by Jason on May 3, 2010

in Uncategorized

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I recall someone saying that in e-commerce, there are 3 types of shopper:

  • The Snatch & Grabber: With the surgical precision of a military operation, these shoppers know what they want, and want to get in and out with maximum fluidity.
  • The Researcher: Researchers study up before a purchase. They do more comparison shopping before reaching a decision. They want to kick the tires.
  • The Hand-Holder: Hand-holders are lost little lambs, and they know it. They expect someone to guide them through the process. For them, the shopping experience is built on the confidence created by that personal touch.

What does that mean for online tea sites?

Over the next weeks (maybe months), I’ll be looking at online tea stores.

We’ve been talking about the teas at these stores, but let’s take a few minutes to look at the stores themselves.

To serve us pure, loose-leaf tea drinkers, stores need 3 main components:

1. Quality: Walker Tea Review has looked at the quality of teas, and we’ll comment on the overall quality of the tea retailer’s menu. Levels of quality come a different price points, so we also want to discern whether tea price and quality are a good fit.

2. Selection: When we find a tea and a vendor we trust, it would be great to be able to return to them as much as we like for other teas. Or, maybe we’re looking for that niche vendor who is offering something unique.

3. Tea Community: This is one of the most important, and most often neglected aspects of a tea retailer. Brick-and-mortar tea shops build clientele by being a go-to for information, news, and overall tea support. An online retailer needs to build that community to help both new and experienced tea drinkers connect to tea gardens, each other, and the larger tea environment. Because tea is not a beverage, it is an experience.

Without these 3 critical elements, an online tea store cannot meet the needs of all 3 kinds of shopper. And if they cannot meet customer needs, tea retailers can forget about transforming customers into returning visitors and ongoing supporters.

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