You did a lot of research! Thanks for the zip file. I have been poring over the posts. I think some of them are quite valid, and yet others are critique for the sake of critique. I have found out something that IS working and that is I TALK to people (in the local market), find out from the discussion whether they are coffee fanatics or not. Sometimes they know who I am and what I do from word of mouth and I get people asking me for a sample before I`ve had the conversation. We have loyalty and referral programs that reward customers for these WOMM activities. That is marketing that works. So I`ll address some of the comments but I won`t name names.
For instance the comment about having lists that are not highlighted as links, like many sites when you roll over your mouse the "list" item turns into a an underline and when you click to it you go right directly to that CATEGORY for the coffee. In the coffee business, visitors know their coffees by various criteria, hence the categories, signature blends, fair trade, organic, single origin, growing region, flavored regular, flavored decaf, etc.
As far as the comment about clicking around and not getting to much of anything and then eventually getting to prices - HUH? You can get to coffee products and prices by at least 3 means on the page, and often in 1 or 2 clicks. You can find coffee if you know what your favorite coffee is by name, what growing region it comes from, if you like Fair Trade, Organic, Bird-friendly coffees, by roast style ("I like medium dark") coffee, flavored, unflavored, decaf, etc. Not everybody shops for coffee in one way.
As far as the "other stuff we sell", We specialize in the "unplugged" coffee brewing experience, and the tast difference between any coffee brewed in an automatic electric coffee maker and the unplugged experience is dramatic. We also speak of that on our site in "the more you know" section which appears as a section unto itself on the home page. Cross selling related items is a standard merchandising tactic that WORKS. It make take me raw materials and labor to produce a coffee product at a decent margin. It takes me nothing to buy something at wholesale and flip it at retail and it RELATES TO THE CORE PRODUCT.
I have run at least 2 other online retail businesses in the past 10 years, and sidelines account for at least 50% of the sales. In fact I have one customer who is also a professional associate of mine in my "day job". I gave him a bag of coffee. He likes the coffee - says it`s like no other he`s ever tasted. He has a K-cup brewer that he and his wife is unsatisfied with. He browsed my site and is very interested in (as he puts it - "soup to nuts" brewing stuff to replace his unreliable K-cup brewer). He has to convince his wife to spend the money. Sales is a process and I`m working the process. For the COGS of about $5 for a bag of coffee, he is planning on spending the cash for a Burr Grinder, 2L carafe or airpot, filter cone, filters, cleaning agent, and a French Press. That`s over $150 in related merchandise with a 50% margin...for giving a way a bag of coffee and establishing a relationship. Filters and cleaning agent are consumables, and thus part of the repeat purchase experience along with the coffee. Ignoring cross-sell opportunities of sideline items in any online retail experience is just plain foolish in my experience.
As far as highlighting links, etc. The web has changed, but I am in fundamental agreement with this one. However the "static blue text with an underline" type of link is passe` and there are other ways to highlight. I`m not crazy about the black text that changes when you rollover it (because the link value is not apparent to the user scanning the page), but I can fix that with a style change.
We do have a restaurant chain that we are supplying already, and a short list of repeat retail customers in the local, California, and Florida markets created strictly by WOMM. We did accomplish that having only been online since Feb 1 of this year.
What I`m finding, however is that paid AdWords gets me visibility in the first page of sponsored links, and puts me right alongside Seattle`s Best, Green Mountain, Starbucks, etc. and visitors do click through, but competing with established brands I`m a nobody at this point. I recognize that. But I do have to take notice that those clicks that did come to my site, did choose me over Green Mountain, Seattle`s Best, etc. so I must have aroused curiosity. Perhaps I still need to work on the "compell to buy" proposition.
And for those who think I`m just a newbie amateur on the web, I`ve been guiding companies as a web and enterprise architect since 1996 to put their products on the web, perform stock trades, apply for multimillion dollar capital acquisitions (airplanes, trains, etc) and managing the financing securely and remotely, from small mom-and-pops to Fortune 100 companies. I`m far from new to the web/e-comm wholesale and retail space, and I bring the experience of those 10+ years as well as having run 2 online businesses that sold retail items long before e-comm became mainstream.
I appreciate the input from all of you, and especially you Erin for putting a positive spin on it and doing so much research. Trust that it will not go unnoticed or underutilized. It`s great information for me to compare and contrast to and perhaps pull something out - a technique, or value proposition or something else that will give me an edge in the competitive field of Roasted-to-Order specialty coffee.
Best regards to all,
Kevin, Roastmaster/CEO, Isla Java Coffee Co., LLC
islajavacoffee5/3/2008 9:14 AM
Excellence is the result of dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.