Case Study | Local Tea House Ecommerce

Brenda Sandoval Cuervo
Jun 5 · 8 min read

With growing internet penetration, a consistent customer shift from store to web shopping, and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, the growth of online shopping has been massive. (i)(e-Commerce Impacts Global Trade: 2017 AAEI e-Commerce Benchmark Report)

Cross Border Online Shopping vs. Local Businesses

Traditional Retailers and Local Businesses are struggling to compete with online retailers, the reason? The later are able to offer superior productivity, convenience, availability and variety. Simultaneously, online retailer have a greater capacity of aligning their business strategy to the fast market development and the customer needs.

The outlook for traditional retailers is bleak, but there is hope if they can provide a fresh concept for shoppers — creating an innovative experience is the key component. (ii)

At the same time we have the other side of the coin, some online retailers are trying to reinforce their physical presence — such is the case of amazon — , the idea of this is to build closer customer relations, a stronger brand identity, support their clients in their quest for quality and enhance online traffic and sales. It seems that the combination of both approaches is the right way to go; local businesses can find a large market opportunity associated with global e-commerce while maintaining and enhancing their brick and mortar business experience.

Google Think Survey

Lisbon: Local Economy and Cultural Identity

In 2011 Portugal reached a financial crisis which resulted in major policies and programs — like the ‘golden visa’ — intended to lift up the economy. Some of these included: Encouraging legislations, attracting foreign investment and creating a start-up scene, all of these incubated a perfect scenario for a tourism boom. Thanks to all of these, the local economy grew… but it also brought negative consequences; in Lisbon for example the street cars are being used as a touristic attraction more than a method of transportation and local business are rapidly being replaced by coffee shops serving avocado toast. Over-tourism and Foreign Investment slowly changed the relationship locals have with their city, but it also attempts to vanish the cultural identity or at least the visual trace of this one.

Gone are the days where businesses can stay open simply because the rent is cheap. A clean, white-walled café with matcha lattes and English-language menus can crush an older, rundown shop next door.(iii)

Propelling Local Businesses Online

In our second Ironhack project we will explore the potential UX design to approach a brands strategy, reinforce a brand online, help them move towards their goals, maintain a healthy competitive environment while increasing the revenue.

We designed a website for a local business, to improve their relationship with their users and boost their online presence. During this project we’re focusing our efforts on delivering great shopping experiences for the end users, for this will conduct most of our research time towards benchmarking and market research.

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo
Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

Companhia Portugueza do Chá

The first thing Sebastian Filgueiras notice when he moved to Lisbon was the lack of tea offer and Tea Houses — something very unusual for a a European city — , this exposed the fact that Lisbon was forgetting part is it’s cultural identity; very few people knew about the relation between Portugal and tea culture and the city itself had been loosing the physical traces of their heritage.

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

He saw a gap in the market. That’s how Companhia Portugueza do Chá was born, as way to honor Lisbon and also a way to in which Portugal could share their unique teas with the world.

Nowadays Companhia Portugueza do Chá is a well established and recognized shop in Lisbon and has actually reached international acknowledgement; even though they don’t have a proper platform, Sebastian regularly receives orders through the tea house social media.

Lets Take The Necessary Steps

To create a website we used the Design Thinking methodology which is a solution based approach to solving problems. We re-framed the problem into a more human-centric approach, prioritizing the customer needs, but at the same time focusing on being able to transmit the in store experience into the online platform.

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo


In the first stage we intended to gain personal understanding of the issue we are trying to solve by observing, engaging and empathizing with people to understand their experiences, motivations and needs.


Sebastian Filgueiras at Companhia Portugueza do Chá — Jose Caria

Meeting our client is always a reveling step in the process, specially in small businesses were usually owners are the ones who know the most about the business, product and costumers.

To learn more about our client, about his expectations and needs, we asked Sebastian Filgueiras for an interview at his teashop, a rescued and restored 1888 shoe shop. When you enter Companhia Portugueza do Chá your senses take you into a journey through a spice market in a distant country, perhaps to an afternoon ritual with someone you love or simply to the comfort of a cup of tea in the rainy day. Here, Sebastian told us about the importance of promoting Portuguese tea history, culture and industry and the story of how Companhia Portugueza do Chá was born; as a project to honor Lisbon and to preserve its identity.

A teahouse from Lisbon to the World. — Sebastian Filgueiras

This interview not only helped us to understand the brand and the intentions behind it, it allows us to understand the entire experience and the role he had to translate it into a digital presence.


To learn about the customers and discover the main needs to address we sent them and online survey with carefully synthesized questions. We categorize their attitudes and collect important data, from these we were able to observe attitudinal patterns of the user and decide which problem to focus on as a design team.

One of the most interesting findings during the step, was the emotional and responses we received; most of the users had very descriptive phrases to describe tea, many of them regarding personal memories and recalling different senses. These type of responses were very attuned with our brand but at the same time they represented a huge challenge for the creation of a digital platform.

Design — Laura Valenti


Our personas were created out of our user research and interviews. Both help us to define need and also to focus on the goals and features needed in the platform to enhance costumers. We found two extremes: The Cult Followers and The Occasional Customer

Design — Laura Valenti

UX Strategy BluePrint

This method allowed us to inspect the big picture, this includes the information we have recollected, the synthesization of the last and the main focus points we will have while solving the problems and needs, but also it will settle focus ares, guiding principles and measurements that we will maintain during the whole process . By deciding this main point we are able to start constructing a strategy parallel to the business strategy.

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

Business Analysis

With the Business Analysis — a visual method and data approach to understand a brand — we are able to understand the brand in a deeper way and get vital insights regarding their goals and strategy. It is important to organize it in a visual way that allows us to get to conclusions and to achieve the three following: Define Business Objective, Define Scope and Define Project Requirements.

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo and Laura Valenti

Competitive Analysis

Design — Laura Valenti

During the competitive Analysis we analyzed the current competition and potential competitors — nationally and internationally — . Visually we can Identify what is lacking or trending in the market place, at the same time we were able to re-position our clients brand, by analyzing the gaps in the market or our closest competitors.

Even though Companhia Portugueza do Chá is already very well position among the local brands, we realized that is had an opportunity channel in the international market sphere.



We generated a Sitemap to visually organized the information architecture of the platform. To create this we used our research — specially our persona — but its preceded by the interaction and visual design, its a fundamental base for it, thanks to it we can understand the navigation system.

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

Card Sorting

We decided to use this tool to evaluate the information architecture of our site and to observe the logic of navigation. During card sorting, participants or potential users organize topics into categories that make sense to them — all of them previously provided by us — .

Card sorting helped us understand our users expectations and comprehension of our topics, remember, we are not our users and what makes sense to us, doesn’t necessarily make sense to them

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

User Flow

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

User Scenario

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

UX User Case

Design —Laura Valenti

Mid-Fidelity Prototype

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

Style Guide

Design — Brenda S. Cuervo

(i) e-Commerce Impacts Global Trade: 2017 AAEI e-Commerce Benchmark Report