Thursday March 20, 2014 | 4 comments
I started working on the idea of opening an online tea store in my country, Colombia, about a year ago. It’s something I’ve wanted to do out of my passion for tea rather than because I see a big market for it, or think that I’ll get rich doing it.
Actually, the number of tea stores in Bogota, the capital, is quite small. Colombians, as you would expect, drink a lot of coffee. Bottled tea is rising in popularity, but drinking loose leaf tea is still rare.
The name of the store is Kyusu Teas, which will be fully functional soon. All the content is in Spanish, but please feel free to look at the tea pictures; which will teach you a lot. I took great care in presenting the best images possible with the help of my brother, Andres, who is a professional food photographer.
I selected two initial vendors for my Japanese tea store: Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms and Kurihara Tea. The store is absolutely transparent about my vendors. I won’t use my own brand; I openly promote the suppliers themselves.
Regarding teaware, I decided to wait to offer at a later date because more time and money would be required, delaying opening even longer. My budget is very limited, so for starters, I resolved to keep the focus on tea.
Next, I needed to get a sanitary registry for each supplier in order to import legally into Colombia. This was the most time-consuming part of the process, requiring a lot of paperwork. It took more than six months!
Pricing was very tricky, because Colombian customs impose a high tariff for tea and a sales’ tax, calculated on not just the cost of the tea, but also fees for insurance and shipping. As usual for imported goods in my country, the tea will be at least twice as expensive than it would be if it was purchased in the US.
For the store itself, I used Open Cart (which is free) and bought some extensions to improve it. The final tweaks were completed by a paid developer, but it wasn’t expensive.
Finally, I’ll be advertising primarily through social media. Tea tastings will be held regularly. The site will also host a blog in Spanish.
Compared to the existing tea stores, I’ll offer single-origin Japanese teas of a previously unheard of quality. However, the price is also going to be considerably higher.
The teas will arrive soon, but because I am purchasing such small quantities, my shipping costs are expensive due to fixed import fees. At the outset, I won’t get a healthy margin. As things improve, I’ll hopefully get a better deal for both the customers and myself.
I think it will be an interesting project, what do you think?