Coffee + eCommerce
Start selling coffee online.
Save time setting up and "selling" - so you can focus on producing great coffee instead.
Who Am I?
My name is Travis Reason, and I'm a digital marketer who specializes in search engine optimization and all things relating to selling online.
I'm also a Shopify consultant who has helped a few in-person coffee places get their websites up and running.
I've assembled some guides that should save you tons of time if you want to learn how to sell coffee online.
Keep reading and I'll walk you through detailed guides on building coffee websites, selling coffee on Amazon, and sourcing partners to build a sustainable coffee business.
Let's begin with a quick overview..
How to Start a Coffee Business Online
Step 1: Decide if you're going to private label from a coffee roaster.
Ultimately roasting your own coffee will make you a "real" coffee roaster and give you full control over the process and product.
However, you can source coffee from other roasters and "white / private label" it for sale. The advantage of selling other coffee roasters coffee is it enables you to focus on marketing and fortunately there's no shortage of suppliers who you can find to partner with you.
Step 2: Find and establish the needed partnerships.
If you do go the private label route and sell another roaster's coffee, you'll want explore potential partnerships early. It will be important to find a reliable supplier who can help you in terms of the logistics and the customization of the coffee's flavour profile.
Step 3: Establish the type of coffee you will sell.
Regardless of who will roast the coffee, you'll need to give some thought to what kind of coffee you want to sell. Do you want to specialize in decaf, in whole or grounded coffee beans, do you want to sell coffee with a consistent flavour profile to a specific demographic? You might even choose to sell K-Cups or "Coffee Pods". The type and nature of the coffee you sell, along with the needed partnerships should be established early on.
Step 4: Define your strategy, niche, and brand.
Give some thought and document your value proposition and points of differentiation as much as possible. It will likely help to explore what type of competitors you might have in the coffee space. You'll want to precisely define who you will be selling the coffee to and how you intend to do it.
Step 5: Research the legal requirements and permits you'll need.
These can vary considerably from one location to the next, but you will almost certainly need some type of legal permit to sell coffee online or in any other fashion.
Step 6: Decide how and where you're going to sell the coffee.
There's a number of options available to you as far as how and where you'll sell your coffee if you're looking to sell online.
You could side-step needing your own website and sell the coffee purely through Amazon, for instance.
Alternatively, you could have a website built (or build your own) and sell the coffee through your own website. This would likely be worthwhile, even if you want to focus on Amazon in the shorterm. Having your own website will help in the longterm by providing you a "digital asset' that you fully own and can use to tell the story of your coffee brand.
Step 7: Choose a website builder / eCommerce platform to build your website.
Here is where things can get very complicated, or become very simple.
There's no shortage of eCommerce platforms or "website builders" you can use to build your online coffee shop. You could go all out and hire a developer to really customize both the style and functionality of your website.
If you're just getting started, and would like to build something relatively quickly and then build on that incrementally, I do recommend using a platform like Shopify. You should be able to build your own coffee website without much pain.
You won't need a developer, it will be pretty affordable, and you'll be able to quickly establish an online presence for your brand with minimal headaches.
About Website "Builders"
You’ll need a website that not only acts as the customer facing “virtual storefront”, but can also facilitate online orders in a way that makes fulfillment and payment processing manageable. If you’re not a developer (and would prefer not to have to pay for one), what you need is a website builder, or what what’s known as a “Content Management System” (or CMS).
Shopify is one such "website builder", but one that is specific to eCommerce and one that is likely the fastest and most affordable way to sell coffee online.
A “CMS” is an online tool that gives business / website owners a “point and click” interface so that a website can be built without coding. CMS platforms have evolved over time, and as their functionality augmented so too did their complexity. So CMS platforms make building website’s easier to build than if you had to code one from scratch, but identifying the best CMS to use requires consideration of both the features they provide as well as how easy they are to use.
Build a Coffee Website with Shopify
You’ll want something that is both easy to use and actually capable of helping you process and fulfill orders. For that reason, and several others, Shopify is an excellent platform if the goal is to take your existing coffee shop online. Shopify also presents the following advantages:
1. Very easy to setup, as it offers both the software and hosting needed to launch a website.
2. Very easy payment processing built into the setup.
3. Good customer support and documentation so you, or anyone setting up your coffee store, can easily find answers to common questions.
4. Very easy to understand inventory management accessible in one spot.
If you decide to go this route, I've created this guide on building a coffee website with Shopify to get things up and running as quickly as possible.
If you have more questions about Shopify, feel free to consult the following FAQ.
The rest of this guide will take you through all the steps you need to know about to launch the online coffee store.
Want to Learn How to Sell Coffee Online?
Build a Website
If you operate an in-person café (or roastery) and are looking to build a website in order to sell online then choose this option:
Private Label Coffee
If you don't currently sell coffee and want to start by reading our guide on "private" white label coffee retailing:
Sell on Amazon
If you're here because you want to learn to sell coffee on Amazon specifically (even if you don't have a website yet):
Jump Straight to Shopify
If you'd like to dive in you can setup a Shopify website for as little as $29 USD / Month. Sign up, get a feel for the platform and what you can do.