After a small hiatus, I am back and I must confess something: I am a consumer and a modern one, which means I want everything, that I want it all and I want it now.
No don’t bother to send me over to any video website with “I want it all” from Queen, this is not what I want right now. Mostly because I prefer the album Queen II with the story you can imagine in it or some specific songs… but enough of digressing and back on topic.
As I said, I want it all and I want it now. I have been well educated by all these companies selling products on the Internet, you know the ones with all the products you ever wanted, including this old book/CD… that you wanted and that were published in 1985 or something like that. Of course, they have everything because their strategy is focusing on selling a small number of every product instead of a “huge” number of best-sellers; they make more money by doing the first than the second and this for several reasons, among them their capacity to optimise infrastructure both physical and virtual. This strategy is called the long-tail.
As is perhaps obvious from my blog, I am a tea consumer and as most of you (or so I guess), I have my preferred teas, those that I am always eager to have or to drink (which doesn’t mean that I don’t experiment with new ones from other companies or sources) and they can be nature or aromatic. My main problem is that over the years, I have developed a selection of teas that I like that are from different companies and in spite of most of them copying one another, there are still some unique blends or gardens that can only be found by one company.
This is where problems might begin as there are two options: first, the targeted teas are only available at a physical shop, which might be in the neighbourhood or not ; the second option is that they are also available on the Internet on the website of a company selling them. However (and I understand why), the shipping costs to the customer are high, even more when buying only one tea. As I said, I understand why there are high because most companies are trying to protect the products they are selling from harm, they are also using nice ta boxes (which are heavier) or offering you the possibility to follow your shipment… but understanding why doesn’t mean approving.
In an ideal world, these companies (both small or big) could work together through a website focusing on the long-tail approach, with a lot of different teas from different companies, enabling both a big choice and controlled shipping costs thanks to their expertise in logistics and their size, which would allow them to negotiate in better terms with delivery companies.
However, even if it might seem a good idea on paper, it is probably a bad one in real life for at least 3 different reasons.
First of all, as I said earlier in this post, companies are quickly copying one another and bringing them all together on one distribution platform would mean increasing this as companies would be able to see what sells best and try to bring it into their portfolio. This would lead to less innovation and more conservatism for most companies.
Second, tea is a fresh product, one with a date of consumption (even if it varies depending on the tea and the way it is stored), which means you can’t store it forever and expect to sell it in a drinkable way, unlike a book or a CD or most products.
Third but not least, there is the problem of the bargaining power between the platform and the tea companies. Most tea companies are small or let’s say smaller than the distribution platform would be. Why does it matter? Because when you are small and are facing a giant, you don’t have much bargaining power and thus in the negotiations for the split of the benefits, you have less weight and are more likely to lose it, making your company lose money or earn less.
This is why although I, as a consumer, would probably want it and like it, I can’t recommend on the long run the creation of a big centralised webstore with every or most teas as it would do more harm than good.
I feel compelled to end this post by a disclosure note. Don’t worry, I am not the customer that I depicted; after all I drink tea and I keep calm. Although sometimes…
I remember Peter of Tea Trade explaining to me this very idea, but as a physical shop. As he explained it, when you go to a wine shop you don’t just see one brand of wine but lots.
I have often wondered if that idea would work as a pop-up with goods on consignment
For a physical job, it might be a bit more complex as you can’t stock everything and unless you buy a big brand, you don’t have the power of these Internet giants.