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Increasing Online Tea Sales

John Grams

Mana Organics' Georgie Rhein interviews Jack Strand of Strand Tea

In the Year of Social Distancing, tea sales require an online source, with a personal touch. Jack Strand of Strand Tea in Sandy, Oregon shared with us his secrets for growing online sales.

Jack Strand tasting tea in an Indian tea factory

Jack Strand tasting tea

What influenced your decision to go online?

“I love where I live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, but it
didn’t have the population to support a brick and mortar store”, Jack confided. “Initially, we relied on printed tea catalogs. But in 1998, internet shopping was just beginning. Strand Tea decided to embrace the new technology. We were one of the first to offer tea online,” he said. Jack created a Wish List so tea drinkers could choose and keep track of favorites from the 100 loose leaf teas he offered.

Jack Strand in a tea garden

Jack Strand in a tea garden

Jack has always been a world traveler. He loved walking tea fields, speaking directly with growers. From them, he began to really understand the nuances of tea. On his return, he began talking to the media about his tea discoveries during
his ‘tea travels’. He shared his understanding with members of various tea groups and organizations. By placing ads in yoga, tea and health magazines, Jack began to build a database of people passionate about tea.

Within a decade, Strand Tea had a sophisticated ecommerce website platform. He was able to manage an inventory of over 200 teas. Orders and payments were processed online. Jack began adding unique and interesting stories to the website about his travels to India, Sri Lanka and the Himalayan Kingdoms. He watched as his meaningful content began to attract repeat orders from a loyal client base.

Elephants on an Indian Tea Estate

Elephants in a tea garden. Photo Credit: Jack Strand

Jack Strand Tools for Successfully Selling Tea Online

  1. Know your purpose: Why are you in the tea business? Your purpose becomes the driving force of your communications.
  2. Do not rely on continual sales and coupons – Make specific offers with specific reasons.
  3. Choose your online system carefully.
    1. Does it include a tech service line?
    2. Is it customizable?
  4. Include an active customer service call line. Talking personally with customers is invaluable.
  5. Marketing Copy
    1. Educate tea drinkers without over-hyping the “latest super tea.”
    2. Write a features/benefits list of your teas, including facts about the tea estate and brewing tips.
  6. Invest in good website security to protect from being hacked.
    1. Write a detailed return policy since returns is an easy entry point for a hacker
  7. Use strong photos!

    Photo of tea plucker on Chota Tingrai Tea Estate

    Tea plucker at Chota Tingrai Tea Estate

  8. Have a back-up system to preserve your website.
  9. Using Social Media: Choose the tools you prefer and use them in a systematic fashion.
    1. Emails: no more than 1x per month
    2. Facebook posts 1-2x/mo.
    3. LinkedIn group posts 1-2x/mo.

Jack shared the sales formula he’s used for 22 years:
Excellent teas + Reasonable prices = Success!

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