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Launching an Online Coffee Delivery Service

Spout – an online coffee bean delivery service

I’ve been a coffee enthusiast ever since moving to Vancouver. I always try to pick up the freshest bag of beans from local coffee shops such as 49th Parallel and Matchstick.

Last summer I spent most of my free time going on road trips and hiking adventures in Canada’s backyard. Little did I know that it took a toll on my body and I ended up using crutches for about a month. It was quite painful and frustrating that even simple tasks became a lot harder to do.

Then I ran out of coffee...

I couldn’t drive and taking transit was definitely not an option. The nearest grocery store didn’t have the beans I wanted so this was when the idea of Spout came to fruition.

Challenge

Vancouver’s coffee culture has seen a recent shift with the introduction of Third Wave. This sparked new coffee boutiques and artisan flavours that elevated everyone’s taste for higher quality coffee. These local coffee brands sell their beans through their cafes and only a handful offer online purchase. To enjoy the variety of flavours at home means the customer has to drive across the city to buy their beans.

Solution

Form a partnership with local coffee brands to promote and sell their beans online.

Before I built the Shopify powered website and stocked up on bags of coffee beans, I conducted countless of user interviews to get a better picture of my target market. The questions were simple:

  1. Do you make coffee at home?
  2. If not, where do you buy coffee?
  3. When do you usually drink coffee?
  4. What coffee brands do you drink?
  5. How much money do you spend on coffee?

This data informed Spout's user persona whom I used as a guide when designing the brand and website.

My initial goal was to launch the service as early as possible while using lean business principle and UX processes. The brand was established within a week. I spent most of my time designing the logo using only pencil and paper and Google Docs for typography, voice and tone. The week after that I continued building the document which eventually became a low fidelity style guide for the website.

Spout typography drafted in Google Docs

Spout typography drafted in Google Docs

There are several famous e-commerce platforms for small sized businesses so I had to conduct a competitive analysis. Shopify came out on top given the variety of templates it offers plus its integration with other third party services. From then on it was just a matter of picking the right template and tweaking it to match the brand.

Outcome

  1. Concept to delivery within a month – GetSpout.ca
  2. Tested knowledge of Lean UX principles
  3. Deeper understanding of the coffee industry in Vancouver
  4. Learned how to start a small online business

 

Current Situation

Establishing the brand and getting the website up were only a third of the battle. I needed to get more products on the website and unfortunately I wasn't affiliated with any of the local coffee brands so I had to find my initial connection, which I did through Timbertrain Coffee.

Currently, I only have two products from the same brand. I need more variety before going to market so the website quickly became a proof of concept when reaching out to other coffee vendors. So far it has received a lot of positive feedback and now I have to continue creating new business relationships to get more products before I start driving traffic to the site.

I’ve been busy at work and also started teaching recently so I’ve slowed down my progress with Spout. 😞