In the past two decades UK café culture has boomed. From 2010 to 2020 the number of coffee independents and micro-chains in London increased by an incredible 700%. With coffee fans increasingly spoilt for choice, coffee operators have had to up their game: delivering quality, sustainability and seamless customer experiences like never before.
In this competitive landscape, digital ordering technology can offer powerful tools for coffee shop and café operators, allowing them to introduce greater efficiency, convenience and personalisation into their business. Post-pandemic, operators will need these tools more than ever to revive customer loyalty, build brand affinity and ensure the future growth of their coffee brand.
In this blog we explore the three main advantages that technology can provide to coffee operators today, and how to unlock them for your business.
Advantage 1: Boost your throughput & sell more coffee
Reduce coffee shop queues with digital ordering
Seeing a long queue out of your coffee shop door may feel great, but the reality is – it’s costing you. For every customer willing to join the line there are others going to your competitors instead. 2020 research by Allegra revealed that 41% of coffee shop customers would be deterred by queues of five or more.
Technology is a game-changer for reducing queues and boosting throughput in your coffee shop. Traditionally, coffee shops had a single till or EPOS where customers could order. By introducing mobile ordering, Click & Collect, or touchscreen Kiosks, cafes go from one customer placing an order at a time to a potentially unlimited number.
Additionally, by limiting the number of customers who can order for a specific time slot you can spread out the peak rush over a longer period, enabling you to better manage capacity.
Boost adoption of your digital ordering channels
Click & Collect emerged early in the coffee market, with Starbucks first launching their app in 2015, but to this day few operators have managed to realise its potential.
The stumbling block? Adoption. Even the biggest coffee brands struggle to get customers to download their app, with adoption rates hovering around 10%. This means only 10% of the potential impact is seen.
In order to get results from your technology, your customers need to be using it. Mobile ordering has become more normalised post-pandemic but operators should still plan an onboarding strategy to boost adoption of their app. With more customers using Click & Collect the benefits can be multiplied tenfold, with greater throughput capacity, data collection and more.
At Vita Mojo we’ve worked with a number of QSRs and coffee chains on the challenge of digital adoption, including LEON, HOP and our own Vita Mojo restaurants. Successful approaches have included: sign-up discounts and freebies, touchscreen Kiosks as a low-commitment option for first-time digital customers, or using a web app to remove the download barrier altogether.
Fulfil orders efficiently with Back of House integrations
Introducing digital channels may allow your coffee shop to take more orders but this will only boost throughput if you’re also able to fulfil them. This is why it’s essential that your ordering channels integrate with your Back of House systems, to make your kitchen operations as efficient as your Front of House.
Whether you’re using a ticket system or Kitchen Management Screens, your ordering platform should recognise which orders to send where and display them in order of priority. You could be handling orders from four or more different channels – Click & Collect, Kiosks, Deliveroo and UberEats – and your system should help distribute these between team members. Only with an integrated back of house will the added efficiency of digital ordering flow through your whole operations.
Advantage 2: Supercharge your coffee brand
Choose digital ordering that does your brand justice
This year Starbucks ranked as the world’s most valuable hospitality brand for the fifth year in a row, at $38.4 billion. Whether you’re a global coffee chain or a mom-and-pop café, all good operators know that your brand is one of your most valuable assets, and key to attracting loyal customers.
In the digital age, your online brand experience matters as much as what you deliver in store. Customers don’t have the patience for an app that is slow, confusing, or difficult to use. Your app and digital ordering channels should match the look and feel of your brand, and never feel generic or budget. Your digital channels are more than an add-on, they’re a powerful opportunity to elevate your brand into the digital space.
A sophisticated coffee ordering platform is visual and interactive. It makes it effortless to explore your menu, customise orders and make speedy payments. It allows you to provide a personalised experience with intelligent recommendations and upsells, saved favourites or instant reordering. Look for digital ordering technology that is versatile enough to deliver the premium experience your coffee brand deserves.
Boston Tea Party’s Click & Collect platform powered by Vita Mojo
Deliver a seamless customer experience with coffee shop technology
Some café operators are hesitant when introducing customer-facing technology to their business, fearing it may weaken their brand. In reality, the opposite is true. The modern customer values convenience and quality, and the right technology enables coffee shop operators to deliver more of both.
When Boston Tea Party introduced mobile Order & Pay to their 22 cafés they feared backlash and disappointment. Instead, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Using the app to order was far more convenient, customers could still interact with staff meaningfully and café operations ran a lot more smoothly. Plus, the clarity of the digital menu meant that customers now spend on average 20% more. It was a true win-win.
Watch the full story of Boston Tea Party’s digital transformation with Vita Mojo here.
In grab-and-go coffee, the benefits of technology are just as significant.
Click & Collect, mobile ordering or self-serve Kiosks reduce the time customers would spend queueing at the till or EPOS. When customers order ahead, baristas are able to prepare drinks just in time for the collection slot, further reducing wait-times.
Most importantly, automating the ordering process allows your baristas to spend less time worrying about transactions and more time adding value where it matters most – by making great coffee.
Enrich your coffee brand with loyalty, subscriptions and discounts
There are few forms of loyalty scheme more iconic than the humble coffee stamp card. Increasingly, these are found on our mobiles, with digital coffee loyalty apps taking over from their cardboard predecessors. Taking your customer relationships digital creates opportunities to engage in new ways: more complex loyalty schemes, subscription programmes, timely offers and personalised discounts.
A digital loyalty scheme for your coffee shop lets you be more experimental than a stamp card. Change up the rate of points earned, offer limited-timed rewards or personalise incentives. You can take inspiration from loyalty schemes such as the Nectar Points app which uses gamification to create excitement around the Nectar brand, offering games to win extra points or boosting earnings through specific purchases.
As well as digital loyalty, a subscription offer can be a great way to build your customer database and enrich your coffee brand.
In September 2020, LEON’s ‘unlimited coffee’ subscription launched with the goal of boosting customer engagement and increasing adoption of their Click & Collect platform.
We worked in partnership with LEON to enable the scheme and it was hugely successful, resulting in increased coffee sales as well as creating over 6000 new Leon Club members in its first month alone.
Advantage 3: Know your customers better
Get game-changing data insights on your coffee customers
Data is gold dust for any business, but for years most hospitality brands have operated with a surprisingly small amount of data. Until less than a year ago, the major Japanese chain YO! didn’t know which dishes they were selling on their sushi conveyor belts.
With digital ordering, that’s no longer the case. Operators can now collect data on every transaction that goes through their digital channels and track the purchases, habits and frequency of visit for individual customers. With this data, coffee shop operators can start to really understand who their customers are and how they interact with their brand across numerous channels.
Pareto’s principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of outputs come from 20% of the inputs. In business that means 20% of your customers are generally more valuable than the other 80% put together. But how do you identify that valuable minority?
For coffee brand operators, collecting holistic ordering and customer data is essential to understanding your business. By digging into the data you can identify those customers who are critical to your business and how to ensure that you prioritise them above the other 80%.
Get more value from your data with integrations
How do you choose technology which will enable the data strategy of your business? Even the simplest digital ordering platforms can collect sales data, but only integrated tech systems will enable you to really put that data to work.
Data is like coffee – it needs to be in the right place at the right time, or it’ll go to waste. To help your company actively use data when making decisions, you should make sure that it is easy for your team to access the data regularly. Set up clear and automated data reports to come through every week.
Your digital ordering channels should communicate with your EPOS, stock management, feedback, loyalty and CRM systems, sharing data in a consistent format and feeding it through to a single point of access. This is another reason to prioritise technology partners with high quality integrations.
Learn more about data strategy in our webinar on transforming your hospitality business with data.
Conclusion: more than just an ordering app
For the modern operator, coffee shop technology is more than just a POS and an ordering app. With the right digital ordering channels, effective integrations and a well-designed user interface, technology can drastically improve your operations, increase customer satisfaction and boost profitability for your coffee brand.
What’s more, integrated digital systems enable you to collect data across your entire coffee shop or coffee chain business, down to a single customer view. With this data you can start to understand and engage your most valuable customers on a whole new level, and make more informed strategic decisions about the future of your business.