The giants of the coffee world are just that, giants. By some estimates, Starbucks alone controls about a third of the entire U.S. coffee market. And yet, entrepreneurs keep opening independent coffee shops, and consumers keep flocking to them. Millennials in particular will go well out of their way to sip flat whites in an indie espresso bar, often passing right by the big guys along the way. Still, the challenges for independent owners are daunting. While the top chains benefit from massive economies of scale, huge marketing budgets, and a corporate structure complete with HR departments and supply chain management gurus, the quaint little shop on the corner has to work out all the details on their own.
But you know all that. Now what to do? Here are three tools to help independent coffee shops thrive in the land of giants.
The app works like a pre-paid coffee plan, and is now up and running in New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. It allows customers to order from local coffee shops on their phone using monthly plans that vary by type of drink, and number of cups. True caffeine junkies can even choose “unlimited” options. Prices for customers range from $11-120.
So now you’re probably asking what CUPS does for the owner of the coffee shop. The mobile app gives independent coffee shops a marketing strategy and a streamlined payment method. CUPS also offers a referral plan that encourages users to invite their friends with the promise of credits toward their cup of coffee.
Their website is chock full of stats to help owners see the value. For example, this tidbit: 87% of users buy extra treats in addition to coffee when paying with CUPS.
To become a CUPS coffee shop, you can go to cupsapp.com/coffee-shop and fill out a form at the bottom of the page, or just request a demo to learn more.
The relationship between independent shops and their suppliers is special. Service and good communication are paramount, and respect is absolutely key. With this in mind, BlueCart was designed to make communication as straightforward and transparent as possible for both sides.
BlueCart allows coffee shops to order all their supplies – we’re talking stirrers to dark roasts and everything in between – in one click, saving hours of time spent calling each different vendor. All those orders are then automatically organized for the suppliers, which is especially useful for roasters and bakers who need to calculate daily batches and manage fulfillment for hundreds of different orders.
Best news? BlueCart is free, and works on your phone or computer. Plus, they even have a separate app just for sales reps, so your rep is always on top of your order, no matter where they may be.
To sign up, just go to bluecart.com and start using online ordering for all your suppliers in minutes.
The punch card. It’s a classic reward system that retailers have been using for decades. Buy 10 of something, get one free, and it’s all logged on a piece of paper that sits in your wallet. If anything is ripe for being digitized, it’s all those cards stacking up in our wallets and purses.
Enter Perka, the digital punch card.
No more losing those little slips of paper covered in star-shaped holes. The Perka validator appears when that customer is settling up, the clerk gives a digital punch, and voila: loyalty. Plus, instead of a one way street where customers know how often they’ve been to your place and hold on to the card on their own, coffee shop owners can now see how many times a person has visited over the entire lifetime of the app, as opposed to in 10 hole-punch incriments.
Show your customers love with Perka and they will no doubt be back for more. You can get the Perka app in the android or Apple Store or visit their website at perka.com.
So there you have it, three apps that can help any coffee shop stand toe-to-toe with the goliaths of the coffee industry.