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  • Andriy Rudnyk

Shopify Tips: Optimizing Specialty Coffee eCommerce (P1) How to Better Sell Premium Products Online

Bolded text written for skimming. This post is a structured & expanded list of daily Shopify tips for artists & makers looking to sell better online. Original info from my daily tips Instagram microblog, link at the end.


Over 200 Million people drink coffee every day in North America alone, and it is easy to see why most people see coffee as a simple commodity. The truth is, that there is a growing niche of progressive Specialty Coffee businesses emerging on the scene - people who focus on uncompromising coffee quality & craftsmanship, supply chain transparency, and direct trade, giving customers an alternative to global brands. Speciality Coffee has been growing at over 20% annually for years and is driven by a goal of bringing premium quality coffee to those who refuse to settle for average. Given difficult profit margins, Specialty Coffee has found its retail home in eCommerce due low startup costs and wide reach, however... ...emerging eCommerce coffee businesses do face a serious and age old challenge that all premium businesses face: Brand Communication, and with it, a number of questions: Q1. Your product is great, but how do you communicate that to your customer? Q2. How can you offer premium priced products in an accessible way? Q3. How can your website justify the premium price tag? Q4. How can your business streamline & sustain its profit margins?

This post is Part One of a four part series dedicated to Optimizing Specialty Coffee eCommerce, however the content can apply to most eCommerce businesses selling premium products. In this post, I'll walk through: Q1. Your product is great, but how do you communicate that to your customer? I'll spell out small & actionable DIY eCommerce tips your business can use to improve website sales by better communicating product stories, writing facts+benefits website copy, and optimizing your product+lifestyle photography to help customers better understand and remember the value of your product and brand. ~Queue the music!~

Q1. How to communicate premium quality online?

Part 1: Tell stories about your products.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. To understand how to communicate premium quality online, lets take a look at eCommerce sites of brands known for their quality. Enter: 49th Parallel Coffee & Canada Goose 1. Tell the stories behind your products. One of the joys of selling quality products is that they typically come with great personal stories. While most online business have a decent product description explanations, 49th Parallel Coffee goes an extra step and does a great job of telling human stories on their product pages. Since our childhood, across every culture, we've been wired to pay attention to stories. Framing your product description as a "Story" latches into that innate part of our brains and lets us remember information weeks after. 49th Parallel tells a story for every single one of their coffees. The most powerful thing your website can do is get your site visitors to feel something. Emotional storytelling around your product and brand can be your secret weapon. See which method gets you to visualize the product, the producer and the production process more, see which one gets you to feel something: This: PRODUCT DETAILS "Producer: Juan Evangelista

Country: Honduras

Region: Santa Barbara

Elevation: 1500 m.a.s.l.

Variety: Parainema

Harvest Year: 2019

Roast Level: Light Filter Roast" Or this: CROP TO CUP STORY "Each year, when visiting Juan Evangelista, in Santa Barbara region of Honduras, he proudly takes us to his nursery. “More Pacamara!” he proudly exclaims. With every good story, there’s a twist and a chuckle. Juan’s variety is not Pacamara, but instead, Parainema - a hybrid variety that is resistant to rust and nematode infestation... When Eulogio originally received the seeds from a neighbouring farmer, they were listed as Pacamara, but now we believe that was a typo since the physical markers of the plants identified as Parainema. Hence,“More Pacamara!” " What would you rather click through & read: "About Us" or "Our Story"? Both Description and Story deliver valuable information, but ask yourself, which one is more likely to be remembered by the customer after two weeks, when they are making their own cup at home? Which is they more likely to be retold to their guests?

Your Description+Storytelling Takeaway: Yin & Yang Use both Description and Story sections on your product pages, just as 49th Parallel does. Description delivers at-a-glance product understanding. Story helps the customer envision the craftsmanship which raises the value of your products in their eyes while on site, and weeks after the purchase.




Q1. How to communicate premium quality online?

Part 2: Numerous concise Fact+Benefit descriptions.

Your products were produced with great attention to detail and care. The hard work is already done but you site visitors don't know that until you show it to them. Don't let all that work be overlooked. Canada Goose is a great example of this. Their website's Product Details pages go all out with numerous concise Fact+Benefit (or Feature+Benefit) descriptions which highlight the painstaking attention to authentic craftsmanship of their products.

Fact+Benefit Defined:

Product Fact/Feature (easy to write) is a statement about your product, ex: Removable Fur Ruff, White Duck Down, Fur Origin - North America Product Benefit (hard to write) is a description of how the Fact/Feature will enhance your life while using the product, ex: having fur trim around a jacket hood disrupts airflow which helps protect the face from frostbite.

EX: Fact+Benefit: Removable Fur Ruff - having fur trim around a jacket hood disrupts airflow which helps protect the face from frostbite.

Much like with Description+Story, Fact+Benefit are the Yin&Yang of marketing, and work in tandem to provide information to both the emotional and the analytical sides of the mind.

How to Write Fact+Benefit:

Specialty Coffee products can have dozens of facts about them like origin, elevation, wash process, flavour notes, roast type etc. 1. Brainstorm them & write them down. 2. Now rank them low to high based on what your ideal customer would care about. 3. Select 4-6 top ones and write one sentence Benefits to each Fact. Result: EX of Specialty Coffee Fact+Benefit: Growing Elevation: 1800M - Due to thinner atmosphere and slopping terrain, the plants retain less water and need more time for maturation, producing hard, concentrated beans giving you a much richer & more nuanced flavour profile.



Your Fact+Benefit Takeaway: Yin & Yang Fact+Benefit work in tandem to provide information to both the emotional and the analytical sides of the mind, making it more easily understood and retained while the customer is on your site, and days later when they are brewing your coffee at home.




How to communicate premium quality online?

Part 3: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Professional grade product photography is essential to every eCommerce store, and especially so for a premium brand. Your website is only able to connect to one human sense - sight. Your first time customer has never held or smelled your product before, hence your photography needs to trigger your customer's senses of sight, sound, touch, smell & taste.

Product Photo+Lifestyle Photo - The Yin&Yang of eCommerce photography.

Your Product Photo should be well lit, well framed image of the exact product you are shipping.

Your Lifestyle Photo should convey the emotion your product and your brand brings, be it joy, pride, confidence, serenity, or trust.

Take a look at the photos and note the emotions they evoke. Enough said.


Website Photos Technical Tips:

  1. For consistency - all images are uniformly cropped - Square is recommended and can easily be done within Shopify.

  2. For quality - 800px-1000px image dimentions, so they don't pixelate on desktop (most common laptop screen size is 15-16"). Browsing happens on mobile, purchasing on desktop.

  3. For speed - Image size is under 500kb - PNG format is recommended.

Your Product Photo+Lifestyle Photo Takeaway: Yin & Yang Your Product Photo should be well lit, well framed image of the exact product you are shipping. Your Lifestyle Photo should convey the emotion your product and your brand brings, be it joy, pride, confidence, serenity, or trust.


Q1 Conclusion: communicating specialty coffee quality online takes time & effort.


Communication product quality online requires empathy to put yourself in your customers' shoes, and a marketing skill-set to communicate your value clearly. Yin & Yang indeed. Keep this concept in mind when executing this work, or when looking for a professional eCommerce partner.



Stay Tuned:

In the next post, I'll be looking at Q2:


Q1. Your product is great, but how do you communicate that to your customer Q2. How can you offer premium quality online in an accessible way? Q3. How can your website justify the premium price tag? Q4. How can your business streamline & sustain its profit margins?


I'll be covering more DIY eCommerce tips on how to make your premium product accessible to a new customers with reviews, subscribe & save programs, shipping policies and more.


If you found these insights useful, I provide Shopify & eCommerce tips on my microblog here. Arialys is a Shopify Partner that provides new store setup, existing store optimization, and Shopify consulting to artists & makers looking to sell better online.

If you are a business that has been affected by COVID19, Arialys is currently offering free Shopify website setup and training. More info here.


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