Business challenge

Overwhelmed with reoccurring customer questions delivered by email, Dollar Tea Club Inc. wanted to provide consumers with the information they sought without needing to leave the company website.


Dollar Tea Club used IBM Watson technology to develop a web-based chatbot that can answer consumer questions directly, provide context-sensitive product recommendations and even tell tea-themed jokes.


≈80% reduction in email volumes

now that the chatbot answers questions

1.08% boost in e-commerce conversion

rates yielding higher revenues by keeping customers on the website

1 - 2 hours saved daily

in processing consumer emails

Business challenge story

So many emails, so little time

As a small, subscription-based business, Dollar Tea Club relies heavily on the ongoing satisfaction of its subscriber base, making quality customer service a priority for the organization. And most of these customer touches occurred by email. “Everything we do is online,” explains Allan Shulman, Chief Executive Officer at Dollar Tea Club. “And the emails don’t stop when we go to sleep.” However, many of these communications were almost identical, containing similar questions regarding such topics as subscription plans, delivery coverage or brewing times.

The business sought to communicate with subscribers more efficiently, resolving issues and answering questions before the user had even left the website. “There had to be a better way than copying and pasting the same answer into several emails,” recalls Shulman. “So we looked into a few chatbots, but they didn’t provide the level of customer service we aimed to provide.” At issue, these online chatbots struggled to understand the nuance of user questions and could only offer limited responses.

Almost 80 percent of our email inquiries are now instantly answered online with Teabot.

Allan Shulman, Chief Executive Officer, Dollar Tea Club Inc.

Transformation story

I'm a little Teabot

“We had given up on the idea of chatbots until a friend mentioned Watson and an easy-to-follow online IBM course on building your own chatbot,” Shulman adds. “For someone with zero coding experience, I was able to build a pretty robust chatbot.”

Now, visitors to the company’s website can interact with “Teabot,” powered by IBM Watson Assistant technology. Through a natural language interface, users can ask the bot about delivery timelines, obtain tea recommendations for specific events and even have the bot tell them a tea-themed joke. “If a user asks for a tea suggestion, Teabot will prompt them to specify their preferences in order to provide a tailored recommendation,” explains Shulman. “This ability to answer user-specific questions in real time helps us provide a more personalized user experience.”

Results story

The right answer at the right time

So far, Teabot has been a success among users. “Almost 80 percent of our email inquiries are now instantly answered online with Teabot. This not only saves us time but also contributes to the Dollar Tea Club experience by providing instant responses to our customers’ questions,” adds Shulman. “That saves me 1 – 2 hours a day on emails alone.”

“Watson also helps bring us more revenue,” continues Shulman, “and it does that by helping us keep customers browsing our website instead of waiting for emailed responses.” Since launching Teabot, Dollar Tea Club has realized an increase in its e-commerce conversion rates from 3.09 percent to 4.17 percent. And according to Shulman, “That one percent is huge in e-commerce.”

Dollar Tea logo

Dollar Tea Club Inc.

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Dollar Tea Club seeks to make it easy and inexpensive for customers to explore the world of loose-leaf teas. The company offers low-cost tea subscription services that allow subscribers to sample a wide range of tea blends delivered to their home monthly without a contract.

Solution Components

Take the next step

To learn more about the IBM solution featured in this story, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: