Start an online tea business

An online tea business can be lucrative, but as with all businesses, you can maximize your chances of success by following time-tested guidelines. Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world and its popularity appears to be growing.

In the same way, the business of selling tea is also blossoming. Online tea businesses take advantage of the rapidly rising trend in Internet shopping to offer tea products to anyone with an Internet connection. While once mainly popular in Asia and in a few European countries like the United Kingdom, tea has spread to all corners of the globe with aficionados coming from all social strata.

Unlike a tea café or teahouse, an online tea business is relatively easy to manage with low startup and overhead costs.

Getting started

The first step in setting up your tea business is to obtain a business license and/or registration. You must have the proper business credentials for the tea supplier to take you seriously.

Once you have your license, you must set up arrangements with at least a few reliable suppliers. If you plan to sell Chinese tea wholesale, for example, you should do some research on suppliers to ensure that you will not run into future problems. Choose an English-speaking wholesaler and build up good relations with your contacts.

Look for suppliers that can provide good prices on all the items you will need to get the best return on your investment. You will benefit by carefully choosing suppliers that will deliver the product on time without any problems. Hong Kong suppliers are generally the best because they have the advantage of having better mastery of English along with better shipping rate then main China.

You must also be careful to choose suppliers that provide high quality products. When you offer tea retail, it pays to stick to high-grade tea. Most low-grade tea consumers will purchase the product at supermarkets rather than buying it online.

To learn more about tea, visit the suppliers that you eventually choose. They will be more than happy to provide you with all the information you need to know about the products.

Check on your country’s import regulations

Each country has different rules and duties on foreign imports, so you should research this information in order to formulate an accurate business plan. The United States, for example, has no import duties on tea, but European Union countries are strict on pesticide use.

In Australia, any tea found infested with insects is destroyed immediately without any recourse for the importer. India imposes a 100 percent duty on all imported tea to help protect their domestic tea market.

Offer specialty products

Rather than attempting to offer a wide range of tea products, it is better to sharpen your focus. Become a specialty tea business that caters to a particular niche in the online tea market.

Passionate tea lovers are looking for online stores that really know their stuff and that will offer tea that is a grade or two above other stores. Show the customer that you know your tea and your business will benefit.

Set up the website

Once you have decided on the types of products you will offer, then you must create your online tea store. This will require obtaining a web host or web server, a domain name and necessary software including an online shopping cart application.

Many web-hosting providers offer special e-commerce packages that include everything you will need from page encryption to shopping carts and analytical software. Amazon and EBay are examples of large sites that offer users the ability to set up online stores. However, there are many other options available including using third party applications with smaller Internet service providers or even with your own servers.

Promote, promote, promote

As with any business, online or offline, marketing is essential for success. Marketing does not just happen at the startup phase, but it is a continuous process even for the most successful businesses.

Search engine optimization involves creating web pages that appeal to major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. These pages should have quality content rich in targeted keywords. The content should be fresh with regular news updates.

In today’s high tech world, businesses must engage on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. Networking on social media is much like business networking in the real world at mixers and other events. The idea is to create relationships with your online community.

Regularly update your social media feeds with interesting content and your online community members will come to depend on you for news and information. In this way, you can entice them to visit your online tea store.

Commitment over the long term

Selling tea wholesale is not different from other businesses in that it requires commitment over the long haul. The owners must also manage their time wisely because they are competing with other stores selling the same product.

Think about committing from three to five years to the business before expecting tangible results. Use your time and money wisely and remember to be adaptable to an online environment that changes rapidly. The businesses that get ahead are those that show determination along with the ability to find their own niche