The Lab

Lights are on and Everyone’s Home

A Guide For Setting Up A Website

About the Author:

Hey! I’m Mike a new Coffee Trader at Royal Coffee NY. Before Royal, I managed a large scale e-commerce operation for an amazing coffee company based out of Monmouth County NJ for just over 7 years. In my time doing that, I learned some tricks to building a successful online operation without wanting to toss your coffee mug across the room. Along with managing their e-commerce operation, I also was lucky enough to have a hand in their marketing efforts, green buying, product launches, and almost everything else. In the time I spent working with them, I was studying green coffee and everything that goes into getting coffee from point A to B which is what eventually led to me working with Royal NY. As one of their newest traders, I’m basically living the coffee lovers dream of being surrounded by amazing coffees 24/7. Well… that was until CoVid-19 hit.

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CoVid-19 has rattled the coffee industry to its core. Business owners everywhere are in complete panic mode (rightfully so) and are trying their best to get things back on track or as close to as possible. While this is a rough time for physical retail shops, the door for e-commerce is wide open. Never built a web-store? Never done any marketing? Never thought of yourself as a coding wizard? Worry not!

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Getting Started

Building a web store is a lot like building a brick and mortar location. You want to design it to fit your brand as perfectly as possible and to be an inviting space for your customers. Take Blue Bottle as an example. Their brick and mortar stores are open and spacious with smiling staff waiting to help you with any question that you could possibly have. You can find what you’re looking for easily and all the product info is laid out on the table (literally). Now look at their e-commerce store. Same simplistic design, same spacious feeling, same wording that their baristas would use. Basically, there is no gap between their website and physical store experience. Simply put, they knew exactly how they wanted to portray themselves and how they wanted their brand to speak. Simple design, great coffee. That’s what you should aim for with your e-commerce shop. You want it to inherently answer as many questions as it can so that you can focus on getting your orders out the door.

Now creating a website can be a daunting task to some, but there are easy ways to get it done quickly and efficiently. Before even dreaming of opening your coding textbook or Google search, take a few seconds to map out exactly what you want to do here. Think about your products (in this case coffee or merchandise) and what exactly you want to sell. Please note that this will take a bit of knowing your community to plan effectively. Take a second to look at any bag sales that you have made over the last year or so. Were most of them ground for your customers or did they take them home as whole bean. Were most of them from a certain producing country?  Another helpful tip is to also think about packaging these products (i.e. excessive padding required, assembly, etc.) while thinking about whether to offer them online or not. If it’s going to be a pain to package and there isn’t much demand for it, maybe wait to add it to your store. If it’s easy and in high demand, go for it!

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Building Your Awesome Site

Like I said, to some building a website is like pulling teeth. But it absolutely doesn’t have to be! To make this as simple as possible so that you can start to get things back on track (or as close to), consider a template-based site builder.

· Shopify or Squarespace are great examples of companies that are easy to work with and have excellent customer service. Once you’ve chosen which platform you will be using, it’s onto designing!

· Keep things simple and clean. The last thing that most customers will want to deal with is a slow load up because you thought that a background video of flying kittens would be cute and inviting. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make your site as loud as you want color-wise, it just means that it might work in your favor to have a plain background and great photos (of your shop or your employees) for people to see or some coffee origin information.

Now for your home page, you want to pretend that it’s the entrance to your physical shop.

· For most, the first thing they want for their customers is to be welcomed into the shop. You can do this easily by having the first photo on your homepage (besides your logo) be a staff member and/ or customer smiling with a cup of coffee in the picture. That way you’re showing that you’re a coffee shop who cares about the customer experience.

· Next up if you choose to do a slide show, it should be your products. This can include any product photo that you want to sell and a button overlay (which is an option on both Shopify and Squarespace) to direct the visitor to the product page. Usually, I’d suggest a locations slide to showcase your café to newcomers, but… these are weird times and online is the location that you want to primarily promote, so maybe skip that part for now.

· After you’ve uploaded some images to your slideshow or image bar, it’s time to tell your story or at least a little snippet of it. The real idea here is to lay out who you are and why they should care. A story about the name of your brand and the idea behind starting the company would be a great start to this section.

e.g. Brand x was an idea that one long time coffee lover thought of for well over five years. After five long years of deliberation, John Doe decided to take the leap. Brand X’s focus is to help coffee producers live a better life and to share their story with each and every customer. Better begins now.

Now that you’ve got your little story snippet and you’ve explained yourself; you have two options.

1. To add products to the homepage for customers to shop without having to navigate the site (highly suggested)

2, To leave the homepage as simple as possible and let customers use the navigation bar to find their way around.

Statistics show that the rough average bounce rate (a page visit that abruptly ends) is about 41-55% (per Rocket Fuel.) Now, what does that mean? Basically, that means that people’s attention spans are short if they don’t have an immediate reason to care. So… give them a reason!

Hook them early in their visit with a pop up (inherent to most template-based stores) that includes a discount code for them to use. “Free Shipping for All New Email Subscribers!” is the perfect way to provide value in exchange for their email address. This is about getting coffee out the door as quickly as possible, but if you want to keep this e-comm thing alive for the long run it always helps to have more data available.

Once you’ve given your customer the “Why should I care” answer, it’s time to map out your shopping experience.

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Site Navigation and Uploading Your Products

So, you’ve created an amazing homepage and you want your customers to shop happily without any confusion, what now?

You’ll want to upload some products to your site.

  · Keep in mind that products will require some images, so keep your phone handy with portrait mode ready to go!

· No camera? No problem, just open Instagram and go to story mode. From there, pick a background (or a few different ones) and type out the product name. After that, take a screenshot and crop it to be square. Boom… image created. This isn’t as effective as the photo option, but hey… nothing’s perfect. Canva is another great tool for creating images for your site as well. Really, any site or app will do. Check out your app store to find one that will work best for you.

· Once you’ve got the image(s) for your product, it’s time to start creating collections. Your collections should be simple and organized. i.e. you wouldn’t want to include t-shirts in with your coffee bag collection. It just messes with the flow of your customer’s experience and will create confusion as to where to find things on your site. Keeping them as simple as possible would leave you with a few collections that will most likely look like this: Coffee, Other Goods, and well… that’s all. Your coffee can live in one collection and brewers, t-shirts, stickers and such can all live in another. This will help keep users on the site longer and make their shopping experience as simple as possible. Keep them as simple as possible.

· Now more than ever, make sure to highlight your at-home brewing equipment/ brew guides as well. Since everyone is at home, they will most likely have the time to brew themselves an awesome V60 or Chemex and they’ll love you for teaching them!

· Once you’ve got everything loaded into the site (pricing included), it’s time to decide how to ship things. Both Shopify and Squarespace have shipping features built-in and 24/7 customer service to help you get it all figured out.

Basically, you’ll need to link the site to a USPS account or UPS account (or any other carrier that works for you) so that live pricing will be shown.

After you’ve done this, you should (fingers crossed) be good to go. Do a few test runs to feel out the flow and adjust colors on the checkout page to fit your theme.

Once you’ve decided that it’s all good, hit publish and move onto the next phase of launching your site… marketing

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Marketing

This step is the easiest and the most difficult at the exact same time but take a deep breath and say this out loud to yourself, “I am the best human ever and I can post pretty photos of coffee to all social platforms with ease!” Or maybe come up with something more empowering… try some Beyoncé quotes or something.

Social media is one of the best ways to access your customers. Try these steps to achieve social media greatness!

· Start by searching for local businesses. If there is a bar in your town, then you just found the customers who stroll in at eleven a.m. on Saturdays. If there’s a bookstore in town, then you just found the quiet customer who sits in the corner reading all day. Basically, if there is another business in your town, there are customers to be found.

· Post some photos on your page (a couple to start with) to give customers something to link themselves to and then start liking their posts. If you like a few of theirs, they’ll see that you care about them.

· While you’re scrolling through and liking a few of their coffee photos, take a few notes. Do most of your customers like the outdoors? Boom… there’s an opportunity for you to take a photo of a bag of coffee on a hiking trail! Do they like interior design? Wham… there’s a chance to take a photo of a bag of coffee in your beautiful café (or in your kitchen… you know, because of social distancing and all). Throw your website link in your bio and you’ll be good to go!

Now, why would you want to do this you ask? Because we said so! No…. on the real, most humans like coffee a lot and that same group of people most likely love sharing photos of latte art with their millions of followers! Your customers live on social media (especially now that they’re home and bored to tears) and you can keep your brand in their mind all day by being a part of their feed. Once they see that their favorite coffee shop ships coffee, they’ll hop on your site and check out the menu!

Provided you’ve done a solid job building your site and you’re stoked on it, they’ll be happy to shop. Want to get a lot of eyes on your page quickly? It’s time to try out some more advanced marketing.

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Customer Satisfaction

Those orders are rolling in now and you’re trying to figure out how to handle all of them. You’ve got a few of your staff members looking for something to do? Well… there you go! This will hopefully give you a chance to give a few of your staff members some temporary relief from staying home and streaming movies while scrolling through Instagram and liking photos of cats. When your customers see how quickly their order was processed through and shipped out, they’ll be sure to return. Make sure to double check all your orders before they are sealed in their packages to be 100% that they are correct. Now more than ever, you need to hit a home run with each and every customer that orders from you.

If you’re experiencing a large number of orders coming in after only a short while, you can give yourself a high five because you’re crushing it at life. But… you should also do a little research into finding a shipping tool to help you manage your orders. There are a lot of good plugins that can help organize your order flow and even assign labels to orders as soon as they come in. Check the app store for whichever platform you choose to work off of and get one installed. There are even a few that will provide tracking numbers and such to your customers. If they see that their order was shipped and get a tracking number to go along with it, they’ll be less likely to reach out and ask questions that could have been avoided. That gives you more time for getting some more orders out the door and will surely bring them back time and time again.

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Need help figuring out where to start with all of this? Let me know! You can reach me Monday – Friday 7:30am – 5 pm EST by calling our office 908-756-6400. I’d love to help! You can also reach me via email: mike@royalny.com

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So that’s that. That’s our unofficial guide to opening a webstore and continuing to fuel your local community with awesome coffees. These are trying times and they aren’t going to be over for a little bit, so keep a smile and keep positive. Coffee is one of the only things that brings people together even in situations like this and we’re happy that you’re here with us.

Stay happy, awesome, and safe. We’ll share a cup of coffee again soon!

Mike Ward

Mike is a new Trader at Royal Coffee NY. Before joining the team at Royal, he spent 7+ years with a rapidly expanding roaster in Monmouth County NJ. In his time with them he managed their e-commerce platform, assisted in marketing, product launches, and green buying. As a certified Q grader, being surrounded by coffee all the time is his absolute dream.