Why Cafés Need an App?

January 21, 2020

What do customers and café owners have to gain with a mobile app?

coffee


Now that I have picked Flutter, I will describe the first mobile app that I made.

I recently talked to a café chain where they wanted to revamp their website to create an online store to sell their shelf items (e.g. coffee beans, espresso machines) and ship to customers.

It is very easy to create a store at platforms such as Shopify to do this. Our discussion continued to talk about selling on mobile phones and I was surprised at how they don’t have an app already that can sell food and drinks items.

:family: Customers’ Benefits

For customers, the benefits are plentiful and obvious:

Skip the Line

Instead of waiting in line at the cashier or for the waiter to take your order, you can put in the order on your phone and the kitchen can prepare it immediately.

Never Forget Your Loyalty Card

How many loyalty cards with 1 stamp do you have because you always forget to bring it with you?

Some payments apps offer this (e.g. Apple Wallet, Google Pay) but they don’t let you add menu items.

Easy Access to Store Menu

Customers can now easily access the latest store menu, which can be updated as frequently as needed.

Queue at Café

:information_desk_person: Store Owners’ Benefits

Developing a mobile app today is a lot cheaper (both in terms of time and money) than a few years. The benefits easily outweigh the costs for store owners:

Reduce Staff Needed

An app that take orders transforms every customer’s phone into a POS (Point of Sale System). The order is no longer restricted to be taken only at the cash register. Not only does this help reduce cashier staff, it also helps reduce the staff power needed for cashier balancing and depositing cash to the banks or ATM.

Individual Customer Intelligence

Store owners only has aggregate data on their customers (e.g. busiest time of the day, most popular item) through their POS system. However with the mobile app, any customers that order through the app will be building their individual order history. This is essential for the stores in understanding their customers’ individual preferences and habits.

:heavy_check_mark: Free coffee on their birthday?
:heavy_check_mark: Offer drink and food combo deals to customers who only buys drinks?

Direct Channel to Customers

The app provides a 2-way communication channel. Stores can now reach out directly to their customer through the app. This can be in the form of notifications of promotional materials (e.g. new menu items), to a direct chat between the customers and a store staff for feedbacks.

:chart_with_upwards_trend: Proven Success

In fact, selling coffee on mobile apps is not only a complementary strategy for cafés such as Starbucks, but coffee chains like Luckin Coffee has made mobile ordering their main channel for sales. This is so successful for them that they are already ranked 2nd in China and threatening Starbucks to become the biggest coffee chain in China.

Let’s look at how I built one in the next article.