This article is a part of the CitySparks series sponsored by Verisign
Teabox is one of the few e-commerce companies in India that can boast of a truly global client base. This three-year-old company, based in Siliguri, West Bengal, offers over 200 of the finest teas across a variety of categories, aromas and flavours to customers worldwide. Surprisingly enough, Teabox has a significant number of clients in the US, where tea has not been the traditional beverage of choice. Globalization and easy online access has made it easier for consumers to try out new options based on individual taste and preferences.
To date, Teabox has shipped over 30 million servings of tea to 90 countries. With the global tea industry’s turnover crossing $40 billion and growing in double digits, Teabox is in an enviable position. It’s no surprise then that it raised $6 million in series A funding from JAFCO Asia, Accel Partners, Keystone Group LP and Dragoneer Investment Group earlier in 2015.
Tea Subscription Service
Teabox recently launched what founder and CEO Kaushal Dugar, who comes from a family that has been in the tea business for generations, describes as the world’s first ‘Personalized Tea Subscription Service’. This programme is powered by Teabox’s patent-pending machine-learning technology that personalizes and matches every individual’s tastes to a selection of teas.
The Teabox subscription programme lets tea drinkers choose the kinds of tea they’re most likely to enjoy. This is done by categorizing the types of teas available by attributes such as aroma, astringency, strength and body, which are matched to user preferences, habits and taste characteristics. Preferences are first mapped when users take a quick five-question quiz on Teabox.com. Based on their choices, the site’s proprietary prediction engine assigns each user a ‘signature profile’. The site’s machinelearning algorithms then look for patterns to identify a selection of teas best suited to go with this signature profile. The prediction engine takes into account every choice and every bit of feedback and improves its discerning capabilities thereby improving its understanding of a user’s choices and thus the matches it provides.
Customers receive their personalized box within five days of placing an order. The subscription service starts at INR 499.50 a month and goes up to INR 1999.50.
The Online Effect
Teabox has given customers in the beverage segment an option other than making a choice from what’s available on the shelves of grocery stores and supermarkets. The online medium makes it possible to offer many more choices , which helps the consumer mindset towards tea to change quite a bit.
Apart from the US, Teabox has the most customers in the UK, Canada, Australia and Russia. Russia, in particular, is such a rapidly growing market that Teabox decided to invest in a Russian-language version of its website. There’s also a Mandarin version of the site for China, a gargantuan market. The response within India too has also grown in leaps and bounds, and proved to be a surprise for Teabox team. In 2014, India accounted for just 1% of Teabox’s revenues. Today, that number has grown to 10%.
From inception, Teabox was looking at participating in an international market. “As .com is the most recognized and credible domain extension globally, a .com domain was the only option they considered,” says Kaushal. A short, meaningful and appealing name like Teabox paired with the .com domain worked as the perfect global launchpad to expand the business. It is no surprise that each day, on an average, .com domain names are registered nearly 5 times more than any other generic TLD domain name and Kaushal always knew that the popularity of .com is not unfounded.
Kaushal’s advice to traditional businesses planning to move online is to make full use of the advantages of the Internet. Going online can help young companies immensely by providing a dynamic and measurable platform that can yield immediate returns. Having said that, he cautions new entrants to ensure that the customer experience is satisfying.
Going .com enabled Teabox to create a premium brand operating on a global scale. Do you have a great idea? Put it into action, go global and go big with .com!
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- kaushal dugar
- Go Com Go Big
- Personalized Tea Subscription Service
- Keystone Group LP
- Tea Subscription Service