Launching an E-commerce Page for Our Coffee Roasting Business

Launching an E-commerce Page for Our Coffee Roasting Business

Secretary of E Commerce

When it comes to certain things in life, I feel that I have the skills to succeed.  I have built myself a nice little bubble in my life and I focus on environments where I feel comfortable.  But when it comes to starting an e-commerce page on my website…I suck.

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

It’s a metaphor for people like me that don’t know where to start doing something.  I was busy most of planning period wringing my hands about this and that with no real positive movement in any direction.  What platform do I use for my e-commerce page?  What platform is low cost?  What platform is easy to use and integrate into my website?  How do I optimize for search engine?  This list of questions just grew and grew. The whole time I’m spinning my tires in the mud and thinking about this e-commerce store for my website, my customers were going to my website and seeing the message on my shop page that says “Coming Soon” with a picture of this goofy coffee cup. So, I started to take control with something I knew how to do; I removed that symbol of my ineptitude, the coffee cup, from the “Coming Soon” message…check.

This is My FFT

A while back, I started listening to a podcast hosted by a Brene Brown.  She is college research professor who studies social work and how it applies to success in leadership for families and business.  So, when I pondered my e-commerce conundrum, I realized I was smack-dab-in-the-middle of my first fu*@ing time, or FFT for short.  For all of you that know me, you know that I often use that word, but for the purposes of publishing a blog on my website, I decided to make it PG. I decided to normalize my fear, loathing, and general disdain for starting this e-commerce thing and state my fear out loud.  My fear was that I was going to look unprofessional and my customer was going to have a negative experience with shopping on the roastery website.  Next step is to normalize the fear.  Nobody is going to get hurt or maimed by having a negative experience, so it became clear that I was being irrational.  Final step is to rationalize.  Take one little thing and start with a small executable step and set yourself up for success.  I told myself this will build confidence.

Creating My First Product

I filled out the papers, filed for adoption, and I went to the virtual store and brought home my e-commerce baby, WooCommerce.  Looking at the dizzying array of plugins, integrations, themes, child themes, etc., I bypassed all of that and decided to create a product, and not just any product, but my first product.  I decided to create a product to showcase our organic, direct trade, Honduras coffee from our green coffee partners at Finca Terrerito.  The name of our coffee and my first product creation on my e-commerce page is Farmhouse.  Just the name makes me feel great.  I can almost smell the medium roast coming off my Probat P12 roaster right now.  It was fun to learn how to set up your product with pictures descriptions and the like, and then, Mara asked told me to create product variations to provide options for our customers so that they could choose whole bean coffee or different levels of ground coffee.  I kept trying, but it never turned out the way I wanted.  So, I kept trying.  There, now it’s done, I thought…that only took two days.  To the guy on the computer video who did it in three minutes, I want to say that I would block you on my Twitter account, if I had one.

Making Progress and Then…Shipping

Things started to get easier for me.  I would watch a video, go to my site, copy what the person did and wham, there it was.  I was making progress.  I started feeling pretty good.  Then I started thinking about the logistics of sending an order to customer.  How do you do that?   How do I package my coffee for shipping?  How much do I charge for shipping?  I must say, the whole logistics thing caught me off guard.  I was not prepared.  I had no idea if I was going to use a box or a padded envelope.  Luckily, Harry from Finca Terrerito and Alma Coffee shared some great ideas.  These ideas helped me make decisions quicker with less angst and uncertainty.  When you buy your green beans from a supplier like Harry, he really helps you get started on the right foot.  It’s who they are as a business. We ended up selecting to ship our product in cardboard boxes. But before we bought boxes, we had to consider the size and how that affects the price of shipping.  We ended up using Pirate Ship shipping software where you get better pricing, and luckily it was easy to use even for a guy like me.  We were really making progress now.

All Systems Go

Well, it came right down to deciding that I should go for it.  All systems were go, and it seemed like I had everything in place.  So, I took a chance and published one product for a short period on a cold Sunday afternoon.  I selected my coffee, entered my name, address, and credit card information and ordered a bag of coffee.  Not really, of course, because I had no intent of going to the roastery and fulfilling my order and sending it to myself, but I wanted to see if would charge my credit card and see if WooCommerce would send me an email telling me that I had an order.  Well, to my surprise, everything worked just the way it is supposed to work.  The order showed up in my email and my credit card was charged the $13.95.  I contemplated giving myself a refund, but it was fun to think that I was supporting my own business with my credit card sale.  For now, my first online sale was really just a virtual sale.

Going Live

We just went live with five products on our online ordering page.  We sat with bated breath for our first order.  It seemed like I was checking it every minute of every day.  And then, crickets made way for nothing.  There wasn’t a single order in the system.  Hours turned into days and the days turned into a week.  Where the hell were all the orders, I wondered out loud?  You think to yourself that if you have an eCommerce site, everyone will somehow magically know you are there selling your products.  As I have observed, websites are entirely a conundrum to me.

Our First Order

Then, out of the blue, it happened.  Our first order came in and it was for 11 bags of coffee going to two different locations.  Not bad for a first order, and I felt that all was right with the world again.  Mara went the roastery and got the coffee put together in our shiny new cardboard boxes.  She stamped Ox and Crow Coffee on the outside just a little bit crooked as a reminder to me that she has a small problem lining up things straight.  I think it adds a sense of charm and authenticity because that is Mara described perfectly.  I met her at the roastery to see if we could use our Pirate Ship shipping integration software to communicate with our eCommerce.  It went flawlessly.  To be candid, the Pirate Ship software is really easy to use.  Plus, you get this campy log in with pirate talk which makes me smile and laugh every time I log into the software.  We printed our label using our Rollo printer, affixed to our crookedly adorned box, and move the box from the processing cubby hole to the outgoing shipping cubby hole.  Our first order, just like our first born, sitting there with us standing around it like proud parents…and then fade to black with me saying to Mara…how about a beer?!!