We have a start-up company that was built to enable coffee shops anywhere in the US to source supplies online and receive warehouse pricing without driving everywhere to pick them up. We're extremely new, having just launched at the SCAA (and won the open category new product award!).
What I'd like to know is if coffee shop managers would use a website to order supplies and what concerns you would have about it. Bonus points for thoughts on must-have products and what would make you a loyal user (pricing, case sizes, order minimums, etc).
We've been using web-based suppliers since shortly after opening. We currently get about half of our paper products online, and are really happy. I'd happily switch all of the rest of our paper and our syrup and sauce business online if I could match prices with our current supplier (who is adequate, but doesn't deliver in smaller quantities and is a drive for me). I can not spend more money for convenience, and my car gets good gas mileage.
Our online cup supplier is great. Prices are good, selection is good, they are reliable AND lightning fast - we always get our product the day after we order (shipping to Charlotte from Atlanta?).
Reasonably fast response is important.
Order minimums piss me off. Especially mins that exceed the amount of product that our small-ish store will use in 1 month. Case-only doesn't bother me, but for stuff like syrups we need to mix - see above "1 month rule".
Good luck. Needless to say, I'll be looking up your company shortly... though that certainly wasn't part of the motivation for posting here :).
Thanks Brady, this is really helpful. I have a couple follow-up questions for you or anyone else out there. In regard to shipping, we currently have free 7 day shipping or you can pay extra to have it there in 3-5, 2, or 1 day. Is 7 day shipping too long? Also, our syrups are sold in cases of 6 bottles, is that too many?
Lastly a couple questions on price: We're at $3.99/bottle for Oscars syrup, our coffee is $5.06/lb for farmer direct, shade grown coffee, and $69 for a case of 1000 International Paper 12oz hot cups. Do those prices sound like that in the range that would be compelling (no shipping, no order minimum, delivered)?
We went to all the manufacturers and negotiated discounts but some of these items are expensive to ship so we're fighting to get pricing right.
Thanks for the post Elishia, the site is fully functional now - www.eadelivers.com. After reading these posts I'm concerned about our syrup packaging though. We only offer them as a case of 6 and we currently can't mix flavors. That seems like it would take a while for a coffee shop to use them up so we'll work on that but shipping syrup is really tough. We have a powdered product we'll be launching which is less expensive and offers much more ordering flexibility but we're not sure if coffee shops will like it as a powder.
I'm also worried about our shipping time. Because we're using the Amazon distribution system we're bound to some of their rules. Free shipping is 7-10 days or two days if the end customer has an Amazon prime account.
Also, in full disclosure to this group - our site looks similar to many sites that say they are in partnership with Amazon, but are associates accounts, which means they just resell Amazon products. We negotiated discounted pricing directly with the manufacturers and Amazon to receive discounts from both groups which enables us to sell these products at a price competitive with a warehouse and below the price you would find similar products for sale on Amazon.
I really appreciate the feedback from the group, we've only been functional for about a month now and are actively making tons of changes so while I'd love for people to use the site, the feedback is much more important right now!
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