Handmade Tea gets up and running with Recurly.

There are a million things you have to consider when starting a business, says Caleb Brown, Founder of Handmade Tea. And for an online, subscription-based business, customer billing is a huge chunk of it. Recurly took that massive task off my to-do list.

A self-described “tea nerd,” Brown had long searched for unique blends. Ones that combine interesting flavors and ingredients with high-quality, loose leaf teas.

When he couldn’t find them, he started creating them on his own. And in late 2011, Brown formed Handmade Tea, a distinctive “tea of the month” club for like-minded enthusiasts.

As someone who loves the culinary arts, I wanted to see more unique and natural flavors put into tea blends, he explains. I wanted blends that were well thought-out, purposeful and harmonious.

Handmade Tea subscribers receive four tins every month. In addition to a large tin that contains the full blend, customers receive small tins of each ingredient—the base tea plus two accentuating flavors.

We complement loose leaf teas with fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, says Brown. It’s fun to sample each ingredient separately and mix and match them to understand the nuances of each flavor.

Handmade Tea’s first blend was called “Bodhi Brew,” which combined Chinese green tea with black mission figs and coconut chips. And its first customer payment was handled by Recurly subscription billing software.

Handmade Tea


Using Recurly Since:

Benefits of Recurly

  • Top-notch support
  • Easy setup and integration
  • Improved marketing and up-selling
  • Flexible payment options
  • Business performance tracking

I have a number of customers who want to pay via PayPal. I jumped at the chance to integrate Recurly with Paypal to support those customers and offer a variety of payment options.

Business Benefits

Recurly is amazing software that comes with top-notch support, says Brown, who had researched a number of billing software options in a previous job and was already familiar with Recurly. It gave me peace of mind as I started the business, and was one less thing I had to worry about.

According to Brown, it took less than a day of coding to get the payment software fully integrated with the Handmade Tea website. He took advantage of a test environment that Recurly offers at no charge, which allows customization and testing before the software is put into production.

One of the huge perks of the software is the Recurly.js API Brown says. I was able to use pre-built forms, which looked great. I just needed to add some shipping information and it was ready to accept credit cards. It’s remarkable how easy it is to set up and secure, and it takes care of PCI compliance.

I implemented everything once, he adds, and haven’t had to think about it since.

Handmade Tea is using a number of Recurly features, which have helped boost marketing and up-selling activities, increase customer payment options and improve business tracking.

The company is utilizing Recurly coupons and discounts to offer time- and volume-based promotions (those automatically ending at a specific time or after a certain number of people have responded). The promotions are not only publicized on the Handmade Tea website, but also on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The coupons have certainly helped with marketing, says Brown. Recurly also has a one-time fee option, which is typically used for setup or signup charges, I believe. We’re using it to create up-selling opportunities, offering a loose leaf teapot to first-time subscribers. We also use it to offer one-, three- and six-month gift subscriptions.

I implemented everything once and haven’t had to think about it since.

Giving Handmade Tea customers a number of options has been an important facet of growing the subscription business. It’s why Brown recently integrated Recurly software with the PayPal payment service.

I have a number of customers that want to pay via PayPal, says Brown. I jumped at the chance to integrate Recurly with PayPal to support those customers and offer a variety of payment options.

Handmade Tea is also using Recurly to track month-over-month and year-over-year business performance. Doing so has helped identify and anticipate seasonal trends, including holiday spikes and summer dips. Brown has used these insights to refine his supply volumes and inform his marketing activities.

Recurly has been an essential and core building block for Handmade Tea, says Brown. It’s so easy and affordable, I love it.

Recurly is amazing software that comes with top-notch support.

Caleb Brown Founder

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