Updated for 2023
Coffee shop software is the future of the industry.
From 2010 to 2020 the number of independent coffee shops and small businesses in London increased by an incredible 700%.
Growth, of course, that was stopped short by the pandemic.
The sector has endured an uphill struggle in its recovery post-COVID. But thanks to undying customer demand, the willingness of coffee shop owners to adapt, and new technology aiding the industry, things are looking much brighter.
The number of coffee outlets has now increased beyond 2019 levels, and Operators are reporting year-on-year growth. Project Cafe predicted the UK market will exceed 10,500 outlets by the end of 2026.
In this competitive landscape, technology can offer powerful tools for coffee shop and café operators. Coffee shop software allows them to introduce greater efficiency, convenience and personalisation.
Here, we explore the three main advantages that coffee shop software provides operators today, and how to unlock them.
Advantage 1: Boost throughput for your coffee shop business
Cut down long lines with coffee shop software
Seeing a long line out of your coffee shop business 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. 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 system 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.
Best of all? Limiting the number orders for a specific time slot means you can spread out the peak rush over a longer period in your busy cafe. This empowers you to better manage capacity and avoid coffee chaos.
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. To get results from your technology, your customers need to be using it.
Operators should plan an onboarding strategy to boost adoption of their digital ordering. With more customers using Click & Collect to order ahead, the benefits include throughput capacity, data collection and more.
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 coffee orders efficiently with Back of House integrations
Introducing digital channels allows your coffee shop to take more orders, but this only boosts throughput if you’re able to fulfil them.
So it’s essential that your ordering channels integrate with your Back of House systems. This makes your kitchen operations as efficient as your Front of House.
Whether you’re using a ticket system or Kitchen Display System, 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 operation.
Advantage 2: Supercharge your coffee shop brand
Choose digital ordering that does your coffee shop brand justice
This year Starbucks ranked as the world’s most valuable hospitality brand for the fifth year in a row, at $45.7 billion.
Whether you’re a global coffee chain or a coffee shop startup, all good operators know that your brand is one of your most valuable assets. It’s 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.
Deliver the best customer experience with coffee shop software
Some café operators worry that introducing customer-facing technology to their business 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, 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.
Enrich your coffee shop 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.
From small to larger coffee shops, taking your customer relationships digital creates opportunities to engage in new ways. This includes more complex loyalty schemes, subscriptions, 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. Nectar offers games to win extra points or boosts 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. Pret recently reported it now sees over one million transactions per week through the wildly successful coffee subscription.
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: Better customer data
Get game-changing customer data insights
Data is gold dust for any business, but for years most hospitality brands have operated with a surprisingly small amount of data. Before working with Vita Mojo, 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. They can track the purchases, habits and frequency of visit for individual customers across multiple locations.
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 customer data and sales report 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 customer 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 coffee shop POS, inventory management, feedback, loyalty and CRM systems. They should share data in a consistent format and feed 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.
More than just a coffee ordering app
For the modern operator, coffee shop technology is more than just a cafe POS system 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.
Ready to level up your coffee business with technology? Book in a chat with one of our restaurant tech experts below.
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