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Internet Injects
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Garth Smith, president of OPTCO, Organic Products Trading Co., presents his company's organic items on his site at www.optco.com. As Gaylene Smith, vice president of OPTCO, states, "the Web site was not set up to sell our coffees, but to offer our customers, or prospects, online literature about our company. By having the information on line, it saves us time and money in sending out material. All customers need to do is download the information," she adds.

OPTCO, which is an importer specializing in certified organic coffees, is very involved with projects directly in the growing countries. When it comes to the certification process, people in the industry as well as consumers, are struggling to understand the complicated issues surrounding it. The internet offers Garth Smith a creative opportunity to enhance understanding of the organic method and the challenges which must be overcome to produce a quality organic coffee. On his Web site, he takes you on a journey to Peru on a mule named Mr. Horsey. He offers photographs of his travels and of his fellow workers, and is able to address the opportunities as well as the perils of working in Peru.

Emphasizing marketing from country of origin, Café Britt completes the entire cycle of growing, processing, exporting, importing and selling directly to your door via their Web site. By clicking on www.cafebritt.com, consumers can order a box of three bags of whole bean coffee directly from the farm - talk about marketing potential. That's as easy as picking oranges off the tree in your backyard. The problem is, however, the site is not currently secured. Having placed an order, I did not want to give my MasterCard number on a non-secure site, so I opted to call the 800 number, which goes directly to Café Britt in Costa Rica. After placing the order, I received my package via DHL within a week. This kind of B2C marketing clearly differentiates Café Britt and enhances their brand.

Café Britt also operates a wholesale sales office in the Boston area. When questioning Gevry Becker, director of U.S. sales & marketing, about the unsecured site, she informed me that their Web site is undergoing a transformation to include a secure transaction. "We've hired a team of Internet experts in Costa Rica who are in the process of redesigning and developing our Web site to include secure credit card transactions," she reports. "Our goal in this transformation is to provide an education about our coffees that includes growing, roasting, and brewing. We will have information on the harvest cycle so that people can click onto the information at each stage of harvesting and become familiar with the process-taking place at that time. We want to emphasize that our Web site is the place to order direct from the farm. With our new Web site, we will offer specials on different products every month," she said.

No matter which side of the business you represent, staying current on e-commerce issues and solutions are a must. For daily updates, there are many FREE e-mail newsletters. For starters, you can subscribe to www.ecommercetimes.com and www.bizreport.com. For good information on getting started in e-commerce, check out the book, "Customers.Com: How to Create a Profitable Business Strategy for the Internet and Beyond," by Patricia B. Seybold, which can be purchased on the Web, of course, at www.amazon.com.

No matter what your business size is, whether you have had a working Web site for several years or are just starting, e-business will eventually be the primary way that buyers and sellers will communicate with each other. One thing is certain, the Internet provides a tool in which the coffee and tea industry can better serve their customers and prospects.

In future columns, we will be covering online methods, products, and experiences, and addressing how to use and refine this new revolutionary tool. Please contact either "TechKnowledgey Buzz" editor/ online editor, Rosanna Mazzei at editor@teaandcoffee.net, or me at s.brown@teaandcoffee.net, to share your Internet story.

Suzanne J. Brown is a marketing consultant for the coffee and tea industries. Her company, SJB Associates is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Visit her Web site at www.sjbassociates.com and click on "CyberCup Café" at www.culinary.net.


Tea & Coffee - April 2000
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