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Disclaimer: this is not an advert the company involved will not be mentioned.

 

I’m currently working with a startup in the UK geared towards the coffee market. They are looking to start an e-commerce marketplace platform which allows individual roasters to list their coffee offerings. We do understand how difficult it is for small roasters to gain a significant market especially when competing with brands with bigger budgets.

 

The platform will allow roaster to run their stores and have access to a wider audience.

 

The platform will allow the users to access all roasters on one platform where they can purchase from the roasters on the platform.

 

It will also allow users to select coffees from different roasters to make a personalised bean queue.

 

It will also allow the users to view, select and buy from their local roasters using location technology. So a user in London can decide to purchase from London roasters only and the system will allow them to alternate between these roasters.

 

I’m looking to gain some feedback on whether you would use such a platform as a roaster or a coffee buyer. In addition if there is any pain point that hasn’t been addressed you feel would benefit both coffee roasters and their customers

 

Thank you for taking the time to read. I look forward to your feedback.

 

 

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This has been done before (e.g. therightroast) and I'm sure there's plenty to learn from competitior research.

Beyond that, and I say this as someone who's worked closely with and for bootstrapped startups for most of my professional life, please consider properly recruiting for and paying for your marketplace research. It's not about incentivising participation, it's about respecting the value of people's time and expertise.

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Thank for taking the time to reply. We have had a look at the right roast’s website and they would definitely be a competitor.
This would be an improvement on the idea in terms of being able to select a subscription from a variety of roasters.
I will definitely pen down your advice on market place research.


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7 minutes ago, Nellybmaina said:

This would be an improvement on the idea in terms of being able to select a subscription from a variety of roasters.
I will definitely pen down your advice on market place research.
 

Quote

It will also allow users to select coffees from different roasters to make a personalised bean queue.

There are already subscription services that deliver a set number of bags per month from a variety of roasters like a Dog and Hat subscription.

The problem with a 'bean queue' is a lot of speciality coffee is only stocked in limited quantities. For the consumer there's a positive aspect that they can see a bunch of coffees currently available and not have to worry about missing out on any. The downside is they wouldn't be able to change their minds if something else comes along that they prefer. That's assuming you take advance payment. If you don't I don't know how it would work for a roaster. If a roaster knows how many people have a coffee in their queue (that is paid for) it essentially allows them to plan sales in advance. Without taking payment in advance the roaster would be left open to losses if customers change their minds, which seems likely with new coffees becoming available from different roasters all the time. So you would probably have to take advance payment and hold this cash until the roaster delivers the order. I can't imagine it would be too popular with consumers ordering many months in advance, though you might get a few people securing a few kilos at a time.

Will you be charging roasters to use the platform or adding cost to orders for consumers, or both? 

 

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In terms of the bean queue, the roaster would be able to inform the customer the quantity that is available to purchase such as number of bags. Another way we will trail is having a time frame for when the coffee will be available say 2 months for an offering. This will also allow them to be able to edit their bean queue in order to place limited microdots first and all year round offering maybe later on in the queue.

 

The customer will also have the ability to change/edit their bean queue within 7 days before it’s due to be delivered. At this point it will be a confirmed order and will be credited to the account. The order will then be passed on to the roaster to fulfil.

 

The current intention is to charge a percentage for each transaction made on the website. The coffee would still be charged at the same price for the customer.

 

Thank you very much @Rob1 ;for taking the time to respond. These were fantastic question and I hope I have provided sufficient answers.

 

 

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I'm starting a roastery and we're about to go live. Not only would I not use your platform, but I would actively rally against it publicly.

The last thing I need is another link in the supply chain taking money without adding value. I don't think any roaster needs exposure in the way you're proposing; and if it does then it's in trouble as a business.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, filthynines said:

The last thing I need is another link in the supply chain taking money without adding value. I don't think any roaster needs exposure in the way you're proposing; and if it does then it's in trouble as a business.

I agree. It's seems somewhat parasitic. They want to take a cut of the profit for using the marketplace that creates additional work/administration for the roaster.

The "marketplace" doesn't really seem to add value to the roaster or the consumer. At its best it improves a roaster's visibility, along with a bunch of other roasters too. At its worst it exposes to roaster to losses. It seems to me it offers nothing more than advertising which seems to me to be of questionable value. The marketplace would need to advertise itself to generate traffic, and from there all roasters part of the marketplace would be given equal visibility. The roaster is therefore essentially paying for advertising based on sales. Why not just do that with their own website?

The bean queue concept is almost useless to a consumer and means the roaster has to source, pay for, and hold stock to allow amounts to be reserved for future purchases that may or may not materialise. It adds work for the roaster that's unnecessary as they are essentially running two websites, their own and the marketplace store. 

Edited by Rob1
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It is one of those good ideas, but for who? Marketing can rarely be argued against, but.....imagine this situation. You have a busy marketplace with footfall of many thousands a day. You take 5 stalls all selling the same fare, bread and cream cakes. Each stall starts with the same 1000 items. People are buying on produce alone. Marketing promises so much but at the point of delivery ie eating the cake that is when you learn who is best. Whoever is best and produces the tastiest produce will come first.

Unfortunately, the coffee industry is full of people with zero experience in coffee roasting. They imagine all there is to it is to buy a machine, enter some profiles, press a button and produce fantastic coffee. Shame as there is so much more to it than that. What makes people repeat purchase, is either knowing they have enjoyed it, or not being able to discern it from the next pile on the market, but thinking they do.

I have had coffee beans from so many roasters, including big names roasters and found them totally inadequate. You can spin something anyway you want, but eventually the bell goes ding ding and the two boxers are left to face each other....spin and hype over. It is like the old insurance industry model of the seventies and eighties.....you have a product, you have a manager, he recruits and takes a % from everything his sales force produces.....you end up with mediocre products and expensive costs. 

Please do not take this as a negative attack on your idea. I hope it works, but it is only going to appeal to firms who cannot sell enough of their produce standing on their own 2 feet, or if they are really unlucky, with the help of Amazon!

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Posted (edited)

These middleman ideas make the incorrect assumption that speciality coffee roasters are some sort of hermits, living in a deep dark cave unable to find any customers. It simply isn’t true, most of the decent roasters have fantastic, easy to navigate websites full of information about their beans. Nowadays they also tend to have a decent social media presence. 
 

I’m not sure who the customer base is for these kind of ideas. The people who care enough to spend the premium on speciality coffee don’t need a middleman service to find what they want and as has already been said, would actively not use a middleman as margins for roasters are already tight, particularly with current global circumstances. 
 

I also agree with @dfk41 that it could attract lower end product, and would add that if a middleman were to fail to fulfill their duties properly it could reflect negatively on the roasters using the platform. 

Edited by gm031193
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I buy 1kg plus of beans a month... so I’m perfect for a subscription, right? So why don’t I have one? Same reason I don’t have a milkman.......

 

I don’t have a wine/beer/food subscription either......it’s a pretty old model it’s been done many times before with various levels of success.

 

However as a roaster why use the service? To get your products to a wider audience? But will you get loyalty?

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Thank you to everyone who took time to respond to my post. I really appreciate the insight.
Thank you once again.


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Could this 'marketplace' find a niche for roasters to offload 'remainders' at the end of  season(s) or over productions? This is already done by some roasters selling roasted or green beans using, or via eBay sellers?

Perhaps using a 'second label' or brand?

Ageing stock could then be cleared (all be it at a lower mark up) and capital freed  to buy in new stocks to be sold better direct from roaster. In other words a new middleman may be useful when it's on the roasters terms. 

I also suspect  the OP will find that some insight of the green coffee import business useful.

 

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On 21/07/2020 at 06:29, Batian said:

Could this 'marketplace' find a niche for roasters to offload 'remainders' at the end of  season(s) or over productions? This is already done by some roasters selling roasted or green beans using, or via eBay sellers?

Perhaps using a 'second label' or brand?

Ageing stock could then be cleared (all be it at a lower mark up) and capital freed  to buy in new stocks to be sold better direct from roaster. In other words a new middleman may be useful when it's on the roasters terms. 

I also suspect  the OP will find that some insight of the green coffee import business useful.

 

Skips are expensive..... 

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6 hours ago, HDAV said:

Skips are expensive..... 

Ohhh that's harsh!

There is a very long shelf life on green coffee that is correctly stored- - - - 2 to 3 years.

Customers can be fickle creatures.  They want something new, so a roaster does need to keep the merry-go-round going with new and interesting coffees. This requires finance and storage.

So where is the harm in selling off 'end of season' (speciality grade) stocks at a lower price to allow for the purchase of new stock?

If it goes in the skip, somewhere that has to be paid for with higher prices.

It also gives roasters and punters who are unable to buy, say, £60/kilo (retail) coffee a chance of trying some?

If the OP thinks he can make an HONEST pound between roasters and customers, then he should be applauded. Neither side has to deal with him and it's only a deal when all are happy.

I find the idea of putting good coffee in a skip unethical in every aspect!

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