How Coffee Shops Can Succeed in the World of Social Distancing

how coffee shops can succeed in the world of social distancing

In many ways, coffee shops are well-placed to succeed despite social distancing. Hot drinks are easy to package and sell to take away, which means business can continue even with measures in place.

However, there are still challenges. The closure of many offices and shops means that there is less footfall than usual, something that has a significant effect on sales. Reduced seating capacity, as well as a general wariness from the public about eating or drinking out, are other challenges coffee shops will have to deal with.

There are things owners can do to make the most of the situation. In this article, we will look at seven ways coffee shops can succeed in the world of social distancing.

Contactless Ordering

Like all venues that serve food and drink, coffee shops are being encouraged to enable contactless ordering. This lets customers buy while keeping staff interaction to a minimum.

You could implement app-based no-contact table service whereby customers sit down, order from an app, and then wait for servers to bring their coffee to them. Alternatively, you could implement a pickup system where customers make an order then collect it at a predefined spot. In-app payment means both these processes take place while minimising contact between staff and customers.

It’s not necessary for contactless ordering to be the only way for people to make a purchase. You could offer it alongside socially distanced versions of traditional ordering, as Takk does. This will still reduce interaction between people in your business while providing options for those who want to order as they are used to.

contactless ordering

Curbside Pickup and Ordering

To reduce interaction further, coffee shops could offer curbside pickup so customers that order takeaway don’t ever need to enter your venue.

Not only does this reduce risk, but it frees up space inside. To implement a system like this, coffee shops need a way for customers to make an order, a way for them to pay, and a way to get them their drink.

In the image below, you can see how Ozone Coffee implements curbside pickup by handing its drinks to customers through a window.

Curbside Pickup and Ordering

Expand Your Seating Options

Recent changes to legislation make it easier for coffee shops to set up chairs and tables outside their venue.

This could be a lifesaver for businesses that have had to reduce their indoor seating capacity for social distancing reasons. It can also encourage people who are still wary about sitting inside to visit.

Moving outdoors isn’t the only way to expand your seating. Some businesses, such as Lillyanne’s Coffee Bar in Hartlepool, have increased capacity by expanding into space next door.

Expand Your Seating Options

Explore New Revenue Models

If you are expecting sales of your core offering to be down, now could be the perfect time to experiment with other revenue models.

London’s Artisan Coffee began selling its coffee beans online during the lockdown. Customers who were missing their caffeine fix were able to visit the company’s website and purchase freshly roasted beans and have them delivered to their homes.

Explore New Revenue Models

It’s not even necessary that you roast your own coffee or offer delivery. Merely having access to quality beans and selling them from your shop can result in extra sales.

Other options include expanding your food menu if you have the expertise or selling merchandise such as at-home coffee kits, mugs, or t-shirts.

Booking Tables

If appropriate at your coffee shop, consider offering a table booking service. This is especially important if social distancing measures have reduced your seating capacity.

If they book, customers who want to sit down while drinking or eating know they are guaranteed a seat, which may encourage them to visit.

Booking Tables

Consider Your Clientele

When reopening, you should consider who your customers are likely to be and whether they have the same needs as before.

For example, morning rush-hour is unlikely to be as busy as pre-lockdown until most people fully return to work. To combat this, you may need to experiment with staffing numbers or opening hours to ensure you stay profitable.

Also, consider whether you can attract new types of customer. For example, remote workers in the area, or parents looking for a bit of peace from childcare responsibilities.

Follow Government Regulations and Promote these Measures

The government has published an in-depth report for businesses that sell food and drink to follow. It contains guidelines about reconfiguring seating, using outdoor spaces for queuing, providing sanitiser and handwashing facilities, and managing the flow of people through your venue.

Whatever steps you take over the next few weeks and months, explain them to your customers. Showing you are taking the virus seriously will put people at ease when they visit your restaurant, and it will also help ensure they follow your guidelines.

You can do this by posting on social media and by putting up signs that clearly tell people what they should do. Look at how Faculty Coffee promoted its new queuing system in-store and on Instagram in the image below.

Follow Government Regulations and Promote these Measures

Stay Safe and Maximize Revenue with a Coffee Shop App

Coffee shop apps can be used alongside other social distancing measures to help your business run smoothly post-lockdown. An app can help by:

  • Enabling table service and contactless ordering.
  • Providing a platform for customers to order and pay for takeaway.
  • Allowing customers to book tables at your venue in advance.
  • Creating a line of communication between your customers and your business.

AppInstitute makes it easy for coffee shop owners to build an app for their business. The process takes place within an app builder and requires no coding or programming experience. If you start now, you could have your app up and running within days. Click here.