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]It is now time to take the wraps off of something we've been working on for almost a year now:
The EspressoPeople.com website.
Hello CoffeeGeek readers. My name is Dan Hughes, and I am the co-owner of EspressoPeople, along with another company you may have heard of: AabreeCoffee. We have reserved this spot on the CoffeeGeek website to tell you a bit about our new venture and how it came about. I also wanted to explain what we're attempting to do in terms of a web-based coffee and espresso specialty business online.
EspressoPeople as a concept began about a year ago. At Aabree Coffee, we always prided ourselves on giving a good range of products at good prices to our customers while also providing a lot of phone support, before, during and after the sale. Our methodology in the office was to make sure we matched up a product for the customer, always from the customer's perspective, not our own bottom line dollar. We felt that if we did this, we were serving our customers in an ethical way, and if we treated customers with respect, our company would benefit.
One thing that we felt we could improve greatly on was our website, AabreeCoffee.com. It's not a bad website, but the design was more than a few years old, and it didn't do what we saw as a primary mission for our website: educate our customers the best way we could. For a while we considered modifying the AabreeCoffee website, but we decided to start afresh with EspressoPeople.
One person we consulted early on, almost a full year ago now was Mark Prince, the Senior Editor of the CoffeeGeek website. Mark was very frank with us: "Content is King, Dan, and you don't currently offer that with the Aabree site" he said, and that comment stayed with me. We asked him to expand on his comments, and to tell us what his ideal website would be for a business that sold espresso machines, coffee brewers and accessories. He echoed many things we were already thinking about:
- be up front and honest about the products, and reduce the hyperbole where possible
- give your customers a range of choice, and show them alternative products
- if you do things like provide recommended machines or top sellers, be truthful about these items - really only focus on the machines you truly think are best for a specific type of customer
- let the customer interact with you - provide resources like feedback areas, comments, and the like
- make the website more personal for each customer. Things like a wish list, ways to email links in an easy manner, et cetera are all useful and appreciated.
- educate the customer with honest, down to earth information.
- go beyond the standard brochure scan of products and really show what they are like with your own photographs.
- provide information outside the usual sales pitch. Perhaps detailed guides?
- let the customer decide if they want to read a lot about a product, or a small amount.
- make it easy to figure out.
These were valuable words, and to be honest, we were thinking along many of these lines before speaking to Mark. He helped firm things up for us, and that gave us goals and the beginning of a plan.
Implementing the plan proved to be a challenge, but one we were ready for. When I say this was a year long project, it really was. We were re-writing the content for the website as long as last Christmas (2001), and we started photographing for the new website in February. By the summer we felt ready to really go forward and get the project done and launched.
Many of you may not know this, but Mark works as a consultant in the coffee business and he is also the Creative Director for a web development company called WebMotif. We knew this. We also knew that Mark and his co workers were nearly frothing at the mouth for the opportunity to craft a coffee and espresso based commerce website. We took advantage of this and hired them to make the website a reality.
The result was a website that we are very happy with, but one that will be a continual work in progress. We will be adding new products on a constant basis as we discover quality espresso machines, coffee grinders, filter brewers, and accessories that we believe our customers would benefit from owning. The site is currently feature rich, but we'll be adding new features, new ways to shop and compare, and other things you've never seen before on any commerce site. As the saying goes, "we ain't done yet", and we hope that, be you a customer or just a visitor, you'll continually find new and exciting things on EspressoPeople.com.
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| The front page is designed to be clean, simple, and vibrant with select product shots. |
| The front page is also designed to dynamically change the four featured products each time you visit. |
| Most products have two web pages. This is the "intro" page that gives you quick details, and the option to buy, view similar, or add to a wishlist. |
| You can also view the full details page, which has much more information, features, additional photos, and customer comments. |
One ongoing project on website right now is the Guides Section. Our goal is to provide the most detailed and objective Guides found on any coffee related commerce website. We want our customers to walk away educated about what quality coffee and espresso is. We want them to know why a grinder is important, and even more important a purchase than the espresso machine is. We want our website to be as much an educational tool as it is a buying and selling tool.
You will see this goal of ours grow and expand as we continue to develop and refine our existing Guides, and introduce new ones. Stay tuned!
| A typical full product page. |
Education is a constant theme on the new EspressoPeople website and you'll see this even in the product pages. When you view a product, such as the Livia 90 Automatic, you'll notice we list around 20 features and benefits, many with identifying photographs. We do this for one reason - we want you to know everything possible about a machine before you decide on buying. It's hard buying an espresso machine over the Internet, sight unseen, and while nothing compares to a hands on experience, we have made every effort to give you the next best thing. But we also go beyond the "web" experience: every brand new espresso machine, super automatic, coffee brewer, or grinder we sell has a 30 day no hassle return policy, to give you that last bit of "hands on" before being totally committed to the product.
There are so many other things I could talk about in this article. I could talk about the care and attention we put into photographing every product, from all angles. I could talk about the late nights my co workers and I stayed up just to proof hundreds of documents. I could talk about the thousands of hours we've invested in providing a resource online that serves your needs, and not always our own. But I think I'll end with this:
The new EspressoPeople website is the result of a year long passion to bring a professional, content rich and visual website to you, our customers. Even if you don't buy from our company, we hope that at the very least we've helped you make a very important financial decision. After all, paying $400, $750, $1000 or more for an espresso machine is a very serious and heavy financial decision. We want all espresso and coffee machine buyers, be them our customers or not, to get the best education about the decision before jumping in.
We're big fans of the CoffeeGeek website and support it fully; we know we could never replace this independent resource, but we did want to emulate it in some ways. I think we've done a pretty good job at that - we have a website that makes me proud as it's co-owner. I hope you enjoy the resource as well, whether you buy from our company or not. We certainly invite any comments or suggestions you may have about the new site, good or bad Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 1-888-280-8584.
Lastly, since it is so close to Christmas, remember what makes this season so special - it isn't about the commercialism that Christmas has become - it is about being with friends and family, being nice to others, and then carrying that feeling throughout the following year. I hope all of you, of all faiths, have a happy and safe holiday season and a very prosperous New Year.