What is E-Commerce?
E-commerce is the sale of products and services over the Internet. It is the fastest growing segment of our economy. It allows even the smallest business to reach a global audience with its product or message with minimal cost.
o Currently, there are more than 250 million people using the Internet internationally.
o Sixty-nine percent of the online population has made at least one purchase in the last 90 days. By 2007, two-thirds of U.S. households will be online shopping.
o According to the January 2005 Trend/Forecasting report of The Dilenschneider Group, in the U.S. alone, the 2004 holiday season online shopping jumped by more than 25% from 2003. And in 2005 it jumped another 25%.
o The average income of Internet households is over $66,790, making the Internet user a very attractive customer for you to target.
Is an E-Commerce website right for your tea room business?
Much depends on the nature of your tea room business model.
A website doesn’t need to exist solely to sell products online. It could supplement the revenue of your already established tea room. If you sell a unique product, such as loose leaf tea, you might find success reaching others around the country that do not have access to these products in their own towns.
The Internet provides a global audience of potential customers and it never closes. Information about your tea room can be easily added to the website and updated as required. Your customers will have access to information about your business 24 hours a day. You can add pictures and video. In addition, your customer will even be able to buy from you 24 hours a day and learn your best hours of operation of your tea room.
Tea Room Tip:
Promote your website address everywhere including your stationery, sales forms, brochures, leave behinds and advertisements.
The internet has opened the world to small companies and tea rooms are no exception. Owners of tea rooms should consider the revenue opportunities presented by having a web site on the internet that promotes the tea room business and provides product sales opportunities with only a small investment.
With the introduction of new and cost effective tools to develop web sites, the tea room can be advertised and promoted to a larger audience. The web site helps put forth the mission statement and message of the tea room visually and in an effective manner. One company that develops websites for the small business is Go Daddy.com at http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/default.asp
E-Commerce and Affiliate Programs
Opportunities for sale of loose leaf tea are particularly attractive when combined with effective web based e-commerce through affiliate programs. For the tea room this can be a source of additional revenue with a very small investment. All that is required is a website, links to the tea supplier and an internet promotion plan.
Generally, loose leaf tea e-commerce sites list tea and tea ware offerings as well as information about tea and other value added benefits. Some have retail and wholesale features (ideal for tea rooms) as well as value added features.
Chose a recognized quality and feature rich e-commerce site that specializes in selling and supporting loose leaf tea products to tea rooms. Deal with a site that allows the direct purchase of tea in tins, bulk tea, teaware, tea club memberships, gift cards and other tea related items. The site should also encourage feedback on products so the highest quality can be maintained.
Affiliate programs afford a small entrepreneur the ability to leverage the website of the tea manufacturer through their own affiliate site. Through this technique the affiliate can minimize their investment and maximize their return on product sales. An affiliate relationship is established by agreement between the affiliate and the manufacturer whereby each party benefits.
There is more to an affiliate relationship than a simple agreement however. The affiliate must be provided with marketing support, account feedback and prompt payment of earned commissions. Most good affiliate programs share a number of characteristics:
o Real-time reporting statistics
o Real-time email alerts upon each sale
o Payment on a consistent monthly basis for initial and repeat orders
o High price-point products that are easy to sell and allow for substantial affiliate commissions
o A comprehensive package of rich content articles and banner advertising that the affiliate can reprint and use for marketing
Of special note for marketing support is the availability of banner ads that are high quality and effective. These are particularly useful affiliate marketing tools.