How to Start an Online Coffee Business
How great would it be, combining business with pleasure? Personally, I couldn’t think of anything better and in this article, I’ll show you exactly how to start an online coffee business.
There are many benefits to selling products in an online store, not least of all because you can run it alongside your day job until it becomes successful enough to become your full time job, that is.
Is selling coffee online profitable?
Selling coffee online can be extremely profitable. You only need to take a look at places like Etsy and Amazon to know that coffee is a great product to sell online. And, according to Statista, there were more than 166 million bags of coffee consumed worldwide in 2020/2021. That’s a lot of coffee!
Now more than ever, online sales of are booming. As a customer, it’s effortless as well as rather fun finding and purchasing a product online and waiting for it to be delivered directly to your door.
So, let’s jump right in and I’ll show you how easy it is to start a coffee business online!
How to start a coffee business online
1. Choose what platform you will use to sell your coffee.
Although there are many ways to start a coffee business online, here are three of the most popular ways of selling on the internet:
With Shopify you can customize your store the way YOU want to. It looks like an actual website and you will be able to use your own domain name, for example, www.littleboxcoffee.com. Not only is it user friendly but there are so many templates to choose from to make your website look professional right from the start.
(If you would like to see how Shopify works and whether it will suit you, make the most of their 2 week free trial.)
Shopify charges are made up of a monthly fee plus credit card transaction fees. If you want to make your store look professional, you will need to purchase your own domain name, for example from GoDaddy.
I would highly recommend Shopify, which is why I’ve made it number 1. This is especially true if you’re planning on scaling up your business in the future.
Amazon is one of the most well known online ecommerce platforms in the world! This trusted online platform is visited by millions of visitors each and every day. Setting up shop with Amazon means that your products can be sold to many countries throughout the world, not just the one you live in.
A great plus to setting up shop with Amazon means that you don’t need to hold inventory as stock is kept in their warehouses. There is no real shop to speak of and all you need to do is list your product in order to get selling, after you are approved of course.
The cost of listing and transaction fees does mean that profit margins are cut but that being said, every business will have running costs.
These costs will typically be in the form of listing fees and transaction fees.
Etsy is best know for selling products that are or related to handmade goods. I would definitely recommend promoting your product through Etsy ads, if you choose to sell items via this platform. And, the more products you are able to offer for sale, the better. A minimum of 10 products should be available to the public when you set up your store. Now although you may only have one type of coffee to sell initially, you could make up gift sets. These are really popular and can be suited to a variety of occasions from birthdays and Christmas to simply saying thank you. Selling coffee prints or bespoke cards could also bulk up your shop, giving customers a wider choice of products while your brand builds.
Listing fees and transaction fees will also apply when using Etsy to sell your coffee online.
I would recommend using Shopify to start selling coffee as an online business.
(You may heard of an app that is used in conjunction with Shopify, called Dripshipping. I would advise caution due many complaints about their sub-standard, generic labels. It’s a shame as the concept of automatically sending out coffee to customers on your behalf is a great idea and would leave you free to concentrate on promoting your great product.)
2. Find a Private Label Coffee Roaster
When you have chosen a platform to sell from, you will need to find a private label coffee roaster that will provide you with the coffee for you to sell in your online store.
What is a private label coffee roaster?
A private label coffee roaster will not only roast but package and label bags of coffee with your brand for you to then sell as your own. You can choose from ground to whole bean, light to darkly roasted.
You could also choose to go the organic route, healthier for all, or even Kosher, although these will cost more.
Tips for choosing the right private label coffee roaster for you:
- Find a private label coffee roaster that provides small minimum order amounts. As your brand becomes more popular, you can order larger amounts thereby increasing your profit margins. If things don’t go to plan then at least you won’t be sitting with mountains of coffee that you are unable to shift.
- Make sure they offer a range of products. If your business suddenly takes off, then you will easily be able to expand to sell other products without having to switch suppliers.
- They offer different bag sizes. This is handy because you might want to expand your range and for example, create gift packs using smaller bags of coffee. This means that you won’t have to shop around to find someone else to do it for you.
Private Label Coffee Roasters
How to start an online coffee business: Private label coffee roasters
Take a look at these private label coffee roasters. They are a great starting point for you to get a feel of what’s on offer and how they work.
It may seem obvious but make sure to order a sample of the type of coffee you will be selling. If you are selling a product, you will need to vouch for it. This will increase your chances of your customers ordering more of your product and hopefully telling their friends and family too.
Right, now that you’ve settled on a supplier, it’s on to the fun part!
3. Coffee branding
Use these useful tips to help you come up with a coffee brand
Some may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised at how many people make mistakes when choosing a name for their brand.
Tie your brand name in with your product, if possible. Write down as many words related to your coffee product, like ‘latte’, ‘cappuccino’, ‘beans’ and even the name of the coffee bean or plant to see if you can work them into your brand name. Perkulatte Coffee or Roastmaster Reserve are great examples of this.
- Check that the name hasn’t already been used. It is really disheartening to, after hours of brainstorming, settle on a name only to find that it has already been taken. A simple Google search will help you find out if your choice of brand name has been taken or not.
- Needs to be easy to read and easy to say and more importantly, not offensive to other cultures. It should also have no religious connotations which could be potentially offensive. Again, a simple Google search will tell you what you need to know.
- Choose a name that you’ll be able to use on all your products, not just the coffee itself. You never know what you’ll be selling in the future and successful businesses often expand into other areas within the same niche.
- Test the name of your brand with family and friends. If they don’t understand it, then neither will anyone else.
Once you have found a name that hasn’t already been taken and you think fits your product, then it’s time to get your logo created!
4. Create a logo
Maybe you’re proficient at Photoshop and can whip one up in no time but if not, you can search online for a free logo maker or you can go to Fiverr and get one custom made for you. I myself have used Fiverr for multiple projects and there are so many brilliant designers who will save you time and money by doing what they do best.
If you do happen to choose Fiverr, this is what you can expect:
Using Fiverr to create your coffee logo
With Fiverr, you can choose a logo style which will help you narrow down the type of look you’re going for. You will then be given a multitude of sellers who are offering gigs within the style you’ve chosen.
When choosing a seller, you are able to see how much they charge for the job, how long it will take and you reviews that other users have left for that seller.
Once you have chosen a seller try to give them as much information as possible on how you would like your logo to look. Send in photos or images of colour schemes or other logos you like the look of and they will do their best to do what you’ve asked. The more instructions/descriptions you can give them, the better!
After working on your logo, depending on the package you have chosen, you should be able to make at least one revision. Then when you are happy, the seller will send you your logo.
5. Marketing: Social Media
Now comes my favourite part of setting up a business – working on promotion. Social media is such a powerful marketing tool but you need to be consistent.
Take a look at the following video to get some great tips on social media marketing.
You should now have a good idea of everything needed to set up and promote your online store.
Don’t forget that you will need to pay taxes once you start selling products and earning an income from them. Check out this great article which explains more about taxes, specifically in the USA.
Summary: Steps to selling coffee online
- Choose a platform through which to sell your coffee online
- Find a supplier/coffee roaster and place an order for a sample
- Come up with a catchy brand name
- Create a logo
- Decide how you will market your coffee
- Set up shop and start selling!
All small businesses require time and effort. However, if you keep at it, you WILL get there. There is so much information available at your fingertips online and many small business owner support groups on Facebook if you get stuck and need help.
The one thing you left out or at least did not cover is to whether you would recommend full bag mockup print or labels and what recommendations you could provide besides Roastar …which happens to be a pricey product printing business. Usually their MOQs start at around 500 on up, which could put a damper on those who have smaller budgets.