How to Start Selling Tea Online – Part 1

how to start selling tea online guide

Starting and running any business is challenging. Tea business is no different. The global tea market is worth over 200 billion dollars and is estimated to reach the value of over 260 billion in the next 2.5 years [Statista]. In such an enormous market, selling tea can be both exciting and confusing. Maybe the online tea business will be your first business ever, or maybe you want to include a tea line into your existing business. How to start Selling Tea Online guide will be of help in both situations.

This guide will cover:

  • Questions you need to answer before opening a tea company
  • What you should keep in mind when choosing tea and deciding on your brand identity
  • What you need to think about in advance before launching

Your passion, knowledge and skills will play an important role in running a successful tea business and planning ahead will save you a lot of time once you launch.

We prepared a review of 14 essential steps to guide you in starting an online tea business. Although online tea businesses share a lot of touching points with traditional brick-and-mortar tea shops, there are significant differences. For example, you won’t be needing a physical space, but you will need a good website.

You don’t need to go through these steps in the order they are listed, although you will need to cover some of them before registering your company. Once you start, you may find yourself coming back to previous steps, tweaking your unique selling point, changing your tea assortment, or even a business model.

The first 7 steps to a successful online tea business

1.      Decide on your business model

The first step in starting an online tea business is deciding on a best suited business model. Further steps will all depend on the business model you choose. For example, selling tea on a marketplace platform will require a different type of content, and you won’t necessarily need to invest in your own web shop.

Some questions to answer:

  • Who do you want to sell tea to? Consumers? Hospitality industry?
  • Will you only have an online tea shop, or you plan to open a traditional tea shop too?
  • Do you want to start a tea subscription service?
  • Do you want to source your teas or are you thinking about drop shipping options?
  • Do you want to own your online tea shop, or you want to offer tea on platforms like Amazon, eBay and Etsy?

2.      Create USP for your online tea company

USP or a unique selling point is as important as the product you are selling. USP should show your goal, passion and uniqueness to customers, and differentiate you from competition. And that’s not simply just tea. Try to find an answer to why your product is the best – and search it in all areas of your business, from prices to customer service.

Some questions to answer:

  • Why are you selling tea?
  • What makes your teas unique?
  • What can you offer that’s different from others?
  • What are the best things about your business?

3.      Which teas do you want to sell?

There are thousands of pure teas in the world, grown in over 70 different countries. Add tisanes to the list, and you will end up with an unlimited number of potential teas you could sell. It’s important to decide which teas you want to sell – Camellia sinensis teas such as white, green, oolong and black or tisanes (herbal and fruit teas)? Or maybe you want to sell both.

Some questions to answer:

  • Which teas will you be selling – Camellia sinensis, herbal or both?
  • Will your teas be unflavored, flavored, or both?
  • Will you sell single origin teas or blends?
  • Is organic important to you?
  • Do your teas need to be as sustainable as possible?
  • Will you be selling pure or functional teas?
  • How many teas will you offer?
  • Will you be selling loose leaf tea or tea bags?
  • Do you need to learn more about tea before you start?

Explore our pre-made functional blends or request your own recipe.

How to start selling tea online - choose teas to sell

4.      Make sure you check all requirements for selling tea online

Once you decide on your business model and teas you want to sell, you can check what are the legal requirements for selling tea online in your state or country. Different countries have a different set of requirements. For example, FDA has its own set of requirements for packaging but also for importing tea. Depending on where you live, you may also need a food permit to sell your products. You may be able to avoid dealing with some of them by – for example, choosing a wholesale company based in your own country that already sorted out many documents, or is selling locally grown tea.

Some questions to answer:

  • Which permits do you need to sell tea online?
  • What are the requirements for labels in your state/country and in states/countries you want to sell tea in?
  • Do you need a warehouse and are there any special requirements?
  • If you import tea by yourself, which documents will you need?

5.      Choose a name for your online tea company

Your name is what your customers will see first, so it’s always good to invest more time into choosing the perfect name. Try to make it memorable. However, your brand’s name and future web shop domain can be different from your company’s name. Although you don’t need to have a word “tea” in your brand name, try to make it clear enough for your future customers to know what you are selling.

Some questions to answer:

  • Will your brand name and company name be the same?
  • Is anyone else already using the name you want?
  • Is a domain with a brand name you want available?
  • If you are using two or more words for a brand name, how do they read without spaces?
  • Are there any legal requirements for naming a company in your state/country?
  • If you plan to sell tea to customers outside your country, will they be able to easily pronounce or understand your brand name?
  • What will be the personality of your brand? Do name and personality match?

6.      Create a simple business plan

Start building a simple business plan. Making a business plan may look like an unnecessary task, especially if you are financing your business by yourself or want to have a small one-person business. However, it will help you stay focused and reach your goals. Your business plan can be very concise and include only a few pages.

Some questions to answer:

  • Who will you be selling to?
  • What is your business idea and what makes it good?
  • What are your goals and projections for the next year?
  • What will your pricing be like?
  • How much will you be spending on utility bills, marketing, accounting, salaries, etc.?

7.      Register your tea company

Once you have a plan, it’s time to register your company. You are likely not allowed to sell tea products before registering a company. This may take a couple of weeks and you will need to provide all required documents. You can do this alone or hire someone to help you.

Some questions to answer:

  • How easy is to register a company by yourself?
  • Will you be selling tea as a sole proprietor or an LLC?
  • Where will you open a business bank account?
  • What are other legal requirements for registering a company?
  • Do you need an insurance?

The next 7 steps to launch a Successful Online Tea Business

After these first 7 steps you will have a clear vision about your future company. You will know which teas you want to sell, understand your budget needs, and have a registered company. Next week’s “How to Start Selling Tea Online” guide will cover the next 7 steps to successfully launch your business – from creative and technical requirements to marketing strategy and launch plan.

Need help with deciding on your tea line? Check out the cross reference list for pre-made functional blends to get inspired or contact us for more help in choosing the best teas or creating your own blends to suit your business needs.