How to create an online tea business without any investment ?
Please note , that this is the another possible fully functional concept ( not the theory ) , which works for some of our customers and people who we personally know.
Why we write such an article? Why some vendor would create possible competitors or help to existing ones to grow? As you have noticed ( if you are a tea vendor ) that many of our articles are also informative and useful for tea vendors. In fact, we know from statistics that our blogs are followed mainly by the tea vendors 😉
We are happy to share our knowledge and experience for common cause : sell tea the right way with fair competition. If you are not our wholesale customer and your tea business is growing, we are very happy. Tea drinkers like diversity and eventually some of your customers will buy something from us as well. By increasing amount of other tea businesses we also increase the chance of sales ( shops promote and attract / teach new people about the tea culture ).
So how to start with minimum investment? It could be also written as Start a Tea business for Free! Because your financial investment from beginning is only for tea to drink your self with some basic brewing equipment. Further investments are also optional , as internet marketing tools for example.
1.Learn and “be learned“
In whatever level of tea drinker you already are, there is always something to learn about the tea. Learn – buy samples and try , compare , read what seller writes and how close it is to your taste / feeling. “Be learned” – get known among the tea drinkers . And that’s where these two aspects come together hand in hand. Purchase samples from already famous vendors, purchase teas ( samples ) which you see people posting ( buying from the particular vendor ). Those people would be eager to read your reviews about the tea they have also purchased and you will become a friend with many fans of those vendors very quickly. Same time you are slowly getting an attention of the vendors as well. That’s the part where your investment might decrease without diminishing the learning curve. Some vendors, especially new ones , will be eager to send you free samples for review / advertise basically 😉 Your audience will grow exponentially and more free samples will come to your way. You might get some opened doors into the groups where no vendors are allowed ( usually those which are established by some vendor ) since at this stage you are just a tea lover and blogger.
2.First tea sales
Here you come to stage , when you have to decide which way to do that . The core idea, not the online platform. Few options are available :
3.purchase the tea in bulk and get discount
Drop-shipping is bit harder than it sounds ( as it says to be the 0 investment, yet not always true ) . You are facing to high competition ( in any case of course ) but also lower profits and some hassle with cases like synchronization with existing tea business located on other side of the globe ( not the internet issues but actual reliability of the delivery , quality sustainability..and many other problems ) . You can google “dropshipping sucks” for more details.
Collective orders is a very good and smart way to start with minimum investment or almost 0 ( depends which way you do it ). You gain more audience, you see what they are interested in ( your tea market research ) and you have your bit for free or even make some money on it.
Buy tea in bulk is the option which costs you some money but might have it’s positives. Many vendors would be willing to offer serious discounts on their branded products, since you are proposing to promote their company ( the vision of gaining more customers coming to their website after ) . Sure you will need to get conditions right, so at least customers from your country will not find more convenient / cheaper to do so.
3.Create your own brand
Once you gain certain audience and start making some sales, it’s up to you when you make that step and create your own brand. Custom packaging, private puerh pressing with private label ..etc. That all can be done from smaller amount these days and in combination of your personal visit the country of tea origin , would apart of the educational purposes also work as the best marketing tool. Pictures from the tea gardens, stories about ethical sourcing of your tea ..and so on. Many foreign tea vendors come to China every year and don’t buy tea for some competitive prices. In many cases more expensive than would buy from wholesale supplier ( who purchases few tons every year ). Yet, they manage to sell it even with their necessary margin to cover all those expenses related to such a tea trip. Mostly thanks to that marketing “wrapper” around their product , which is mostly made of generally available tea ( although claimed as an authentic …our blog Tea Marketing for more details ) .
4.Growing your tea business
Eventually you will find your self in no need to support anybody else’s tea business ,but only yours. You will start looking for private source of the tea which wouldn’t be that obvious all over the internet and disclosed prices with origin ( other online tea shops exposing them selves on social media where you trying to promote ) . Running your independent marketing campaigns by sharing your products on places where you are known already. Well, here you need to be careful. As you already know at this stage, that most of those “independent” tea forums, groups ( FB ..etc ) are run by admins who are either good friends with certain tea vendors or they are vendors them selves. Since you are not going to promote those sellers anymore, need to approach with this matter cautiously to not get your self banned.
You also need to be careful with promotions and where you send your samples for review / advertising. There are some individuals who run “independent” tea blog / discussion platform offering sample reviews but they do the tea business them selves as a different entity. ( different website on different name ). That’s kinda “smart” tea market research.
Other , not less important , parts of online tea business , like online shop platform , legal terms and conditions, shipping options …those vary, based on your country and ability to handle certain things. These days plenty online shop platforms / templates are available on internet. Some are free , some are for reasonable prices. Certainly I wouldn’t recommend any competitive platform like Ebay or Amazon , since those are a price driven platforms ( more in our blog Smart Tea Buyer ).
Remember, no need to start with big cash but need to love what you do. This is not a big business oriented concept ( for that are other ways “How to” ) and takes few years to get to stage of being self sustainable tea business. So the patience and passion are your best companions during that journey!