Your Essential Guide to Boosting Coffee Shop Sales

Coffee shops continue to be a huge growth area in the UK. Statistics from Mintel have revealed that the coffee shop market grew from £2.4 billion in 2011 to £3.4 billion just five years later as more and more people grab a latte from their local café. Claiming your slice of this growth can be tough in a competitive market – so how can you boost your coffee shop sales? Here are nine ways you can maximise your profits.

Create a loyalty scheme

From independent coffee shop owners to the major chains, successful brands now have a loyalty scheme. Loyalty cards both encourage your customers to return to you again and again. But they can also improve the level of service and your relationship with your customer.

22% of Starbucks sales in the USA are now driven by its app, but even if you can’t afford an online scheme a simple card can generate loyalty. You can offer free drinks when customers collect a certain number of stamps, or offer exclusive discounts, ‘first looks’ or free perks such as syrups or milks to people carrying your card.

Loyalty cards can be a low-cost way to keep customers coming back time after time.

Improve your eco credentials

Customers are increasingly concerned about environmental issues and so you can boost your business by having excellent green credentials.

Mintel research has found that three in five people (58%) think it is an innovative idea for coffee shops to offer a discount when people bring their own cups. And, two in five people say that they would rather be charged extra for their coffee if they received it in a 100% recyclable cup.

Using Fairtrade products and recyclable packaging can give you an easy selling point over your rivals. And, selling keep cups branded with your company logo can also help you to get your name known out in the world.

Offer gift cards

In the USA, gift cards/vouchers have been the most requested item on present wish lists for a decade. By this year gift card sales in the US are expected to hit a whopping £118 billion.

Offering gift cards can increase your sales as they allow customers to buy what they want when they want it – and exclusively from you. They increase revenue and profit margins, increase the likelihood of potential future sales, and generate interest from unredeemed balances.

Think about healthy options

Healthy food and drink choices form a big part of the UK’s buoyant independent coffee shop market, according to Caffè Culture Show event director Cheryl Carroll.

“Growing demand for healthy food and drink options is a trend we’re definitely seeing reflected at the Caffè Culture Show with an increasing number of low fat, low sugar, gluten and allergen-free ranges on offer,” she adds.

Do you offer dairy-free products such as soya or coconut milk? Have you added a range of gluten-free cakes or sandwiches? And do you have low fat and low-calorie choices available?

Offer samples

Some reports have found that food samples can increase sales by as much as 2000%.

You can easily showcase how delicious your cakes are by offering little nibbles on your counter. If you have a new recipe or a new product, leave small samples for people to try – whether it’s a new sandwich or a chocolate brownie.

And, if you really want to engage with your customers, how about giving away slices of cake or free drinks in return for their email address? You will:

  • Get a new customer who might come back again and again
  • Generate additional income from any money they spend while they are in store
  • Get a contact to add to your marketing database so you can share ongoing promotions, discounts and events.

Think about your point of sale

As well as leaving samples on your counter, think carefully about the items you leave at your point of sale.

You know how easy it is to be coaxed into buying something on impulse at the supermarket checkout, so you should encourage customers to do the same. Optimise your turnover by placing high-margin items at the point of payment, or create targeted promotions.

Be sure to competitively price your point of sale items. You can also offer a clearly defined value proposition as customers should not be deterred from making an impulse buy by their better judgement.

Market locally

In a competitive market, your customers are overwhelmingly likely to be locals. So, try heading to your local businesses with discount vouchers, loyalty cards or even free samples to get your name known.

Building local business relationships can be invaluable and see a high return on investment. An additional benefit is that if any local businesses are looking for a coffee shop recommendation nearby, you’ll be at the forefront of their minds.

Accept card payments

Here’s an easy one. If you don’t already, install a card machine to accept card payments. Lots of research has shown that customers tend to spend more, and are willing to pay more for a specific item, when they use a card instead of cash.

Concentrate on what you’re good at

Businesses often start to struggle when they stray from their core offering and try to become everything to everyone. One way to continue trading successfully is to concentrate on the things that you’re really good at, and, crucially, the items that make money.

Research has shown that too many choices can make customers overwhelmed and lead to fewer sales. You don’t have to offer your guests ten different varieties of green tea! Identify the items you sell the most and focus on them, while getting rid of the ones that are less popular.

While offering a vast range of food and drinks might seem like a great idea, most coffee shops still make their money through selling coffee. Don’t lose sight of making great coffee by spending your time developing a new salad or pasta range.

Creating a clearly defined menu and proposition differentiates you from your competition and gives your customers reasons to choose you.

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