Coffee Ecommerce: Best Practices for Selling Coffee Online

From branding to subscription services, we cover the essential elements of creating a thriving online coffee business.

By Miva | October 24, 2022 | 8 minute read
Image of a website selling a bag of coffee beans online.



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Whether you’re a seasoned ecommerce seller looking to add coffee to your existing product catalog, an established coffee brand looking to add or improve on a digital storefront, or a newcomer to the world of online selling, this article will explore the necessary steps, considerations, and ecommerce tools you’ll need to build a thriving online coffee business.  

Can I Sell Coffee Online?

If you’re asking yourself whether you can sell coffee online, the short answer is yes. Selling coffee online gives you the opportunity to provide a wide audience with a popular product that many consider a vital commodity. To build a successful online coffee business, you’ll want to prioritize four elements:  

  1. Choosing the right sales model for your coffee ecommerce business.  
  2. Identifying your audience niche and differentiating your online coffee brand.  
  3. Offering your buyers a subscription option for purchasing coffee.  
  4. Building a sophisticated coffee ecommerce website that enables a standout purchasing experience.  

We’ll explore these and other aspects of coffee ecommerce in this article.  

Coffee Ecommerce Business Models 

One of the first steps in creating your ecommerce coffee shop is choosing which ecommerce sales model you want to use.  

Selling Wholesale Coffee Online (B2B Ecommerce)

If you sell coffee wholesale, you might sell your products to businesses like specialty retail stores, restaurants, or grocery stores. Potential benefits of selling coffee wholesale might include higher order volume, lower expenses, and increased profit margins as a result of selling your coffee in bulk. Similarly, a wholesale coffee ecommerce model allows you to form valuable partnerships with retailers who can become trusted distributors of your product. However, a wholesale model may also give you less control over your product journey and brand experience than you might achieve with some retail models. 

Selling Retail Coffee Online (B2C Ecommerce)

If you would rather sell coffee to end consumers than to other businesses, you might consider a B2C coffee ecommerce model where you act as a retailer and distributor of other coffee brands. Selling several different brands and varieties of coffee comes with the potential to achieve higher profits; however, you won’t have the same control over the beginning stages of your product journey that you’d get from selling your own product line.   

Selling Coffee Direct to Consumers (DTC Ecommerce)

Another retail strategy for coffee ecommerce you might consider is a direct-to-consumer, or DTC, model. DTC coffee sellers have full control over every aspect of their product journey, from brand design and product creation to marketing and sales to distribution and fulfillment.  

Selling DTC coffee allows you to connect directly with your target audience, designing bespoke brand experiences that can help you build a loyal following of repeat buyers. Selling direct will require you to develop robust DTC marketing strategies in order to be found in the competitive online coffee space. 

Selling B2B and DTC Coffee  

When choosing a sales model for your coffee ecommerce business, you might consider selling B2B and DTC at the same time. Providing a seamless online experience for businesses and consumers alike allows you to expand your reach and build brand loyalty with multiple audiences. By adding a direct-to-consumer channel to your wholesale ecommerce business, or vice versa, you can enjoy the benefits of both B2B and DTC selling, driving higher order values and increased revenue.CTA offering, "Free Ecommerce Guide: Adding Direct-to-Consumer to Your Business"

Building a Strong Coffee Ecommerce Brand 

Coffee is a widely used commodity, meaning coffee merchants have traditionally enjoyed consistent demand from a wide audience of buyers. However, this popularity can be as much a challenge to sellers as it is an advantage. To build a thriving coffee ecommerce business, you’ll need to clearly differentiate your brand and add enough unique value to your product to convince buyers to purchase from you rather than from your competitors.  

Although this challenge of differentiation is applicable to many consumer packaged goods, coffee has a unique advantage. Instead of prioritizing finding the lowest price, coffee consumers often favor higher quality products or ethically sourced coffee—one study showed that customers would pay $1.31 more for a 12-ounce cup of coffee if they knew the beans had come from farmer cooperatives. Online coffee sellers can serve this audience by building a brand that emphasizes quality, taste, and ethical business practices. 

On the other hand, coffee ecommerce businesses can cater to customers who prefer to buy their coffee in bulk and at a great value. Coffee sellers who target this audience will want to emphasize convenience and competitive pricing in their branding and communications. 

If you’re looking for additional guidance on finding your niche, check out our guide to ecommerce consumer personas. Free Guide: How to Create Effective Consumer Personas for Your Online Store

Coffee Ecommerce Marketing 

Whether you’ve just established your coffee ecommerce business or are an experienced seller looking to fine-tune your strategy, you’ll want to use a variety of digital marketing tactics to get the word out about your brand.  

Social Media Marketing 

Social media marketing and social commerce can be effective tools for selling coffee online. Platforms like Instagram allow online coffee businesses to share eye-catching imagery that showcases the quality of their products while connecting with shoppers through comments and messages.  

Email Marketing 

Leverage email marketing to send personalized content that creates buzz around your products and promotions. To capture contact information from visitors to your coffee website, you might offer a valuable incentive, such as a discounted price or piece of premium content, to shoppers who subscribe to your mailing list.  

SEO Marketing 

It’s vital that sellers take action to get their coffee ecommerce sites ranking higher and in front of more shoppers. Be sure to follow ecommerce SEO best practices, and choose an ecommerce platform provider with built-in frameworks that automatically optimize your site for search engines.  

Content Marketing 

Online coffee sellers can create informational videos, blogs, and website content to educate their audience and encourage product discovery. For instance, you might write and share an article about different types of coffee beans and roasts, with links to relevant items from your catalog.  

User-Generated Content 

UGC like product reviews, videos, and testimonials can go a long way toward driving brand recognition, creating brand ambassadors, and winning over more buyers for your coffee ecommerce business. Prominently include this social proof throughout the purchasing journey on your website to build trust and create a sense of community around your coffee.   

Coffee Ecommerce Fulfillment

A great post-purchase experience is vital to building trust and loyalty with your shoppers. You’ll want to prioritize creating a seamless ecommerce fulfillment process to get your coffee into your customer’s hands quickly and consistently.  

Here are a few fulfillment factors that online coffee sellers should keep in mind:  

  • Make it easy for your customers to access shipping information. When a customer creates and logs into their account, they should be able to automatically access the shipping options—complete with applicable fees and estimated delivery times—available to them based on their geographic location.  
  • Take shelf life into account. Even though unopened roasted coffee stays fresh for several months, you’ll want to ensure you have robust warehouse and inventory management systems in place to prevent you from sending customers old or expired coffee.  
  • Design your packaging and shipping materials to ensure your coffee stays dry and undamaged during transit.  
  • Have a flexible returns policy in place, and clearly communicate that policy to your shoppers through your website and order confirmation emails. 

Coffee Subscription Service

A key aspect to consider when building your coffee ecommerce business is a subscription service. As both a frequently used commodity and a specialty food item, coffee is a prime candidate for subscription selling.  

To start a coffee subscription business, you could choose to implement one of the following common subscription types based on your unique brand and target audience:   

  • Replenishment model: Offer your shoppers a discounted price when they subscribe to regular orders of their favorite coffee. Not only will your customers save money, but they’ll enjoy the convenience that comes with automatic shipments of their essential morning beverage.   
  • Curated subscription box: If you’re carving out a niche in the gourmet coffee ecommerce industry, you might offer your customers monthly or quarterly boxes of seasonal blends and other coffee-related accessories like mugs and coasters.  

No matter which coffee subscription model you choose for your business, be sure to include the following elements to create an ideal subscription experience for your customers: 

  • Allow your subscribers to choose how often they’d like to receive shipments. 
  • Make it easy for your subscribers to view, modify, or cancel their subscriptions. 
  • Provide billing notifications, delivery tracking updates, and other regular communications.  
  • Continue to delight your subscribers by adding occasional coupons, samples, or swag to their orders.  

Building a Quality Experience for Buying Coffee Online

A final and crucial way to effectively differentiate your online coffee business in a crowded industry is to enable a terrific buying experience on your ecommerce website. A sophisticated online store with plenty of personalization can set you apart from your competitors and build brand loyalty.  

Here are a few modern ecommerce features to consider adding to your online coffee store: 

  • Powerful product search with facets and filters that allow your shoppers to browse your catalog using coffee-oriented criteria such as origin, roast level, or flavor profile.  
  • Curated product groups to help orient new customers to your store, and personalized product suggestions based on their viewing history.  
  • Easy-to-manage customer accounts that let your buyers save their information, view their purchase history, and reorder their favorite products.  
  • Flexible payment options and responsive web design that let your customers shop and buy in the way that works best for them.  

Interested in learning more about the website capabilities that will best support you in building a thriving coffee ecommerce business? Download our free infographic, 5 Ecommerce Superpowers That Take CPG Websites from Zero to Hero CTA image with text reading, "Free Infographic: 5 Ecommerce Superpowers That Take CPG Websites From Zero to Hero"

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Author's Bio


Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.

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