As we look at qualifying and quantifying the digital transformation that’s taken place in 2020, almost nothing comes up as frequently as mobile ordering. For independent coffee shops and cafes, in particular, quickly adapting to an ever-changing landscape has meant pivoting to digital fulfillment models that include mobile order-ahead functions and curbside pickups.
Plenty of chain businesses made the adjustment with ease. Starbucks offers one of the clearest examples of this, with nearly a quarter of all U.S. Starbucks orders now placed by phone. Chipotle, Panera, and Burger King made headlines with successful mobile ordering roll-outs as well. For smaller, independent coffee shops, cafes, bakeries, and QSRs, though, the adjustment has been more of a challenge.
Working overtime to keep their businesses afloat during the pandemic, coffee shop owners hardly had time to navigate the development and implementation of mobile ordering technology. In addition to the cost considerations, there’s also the issue of staff training and integration with existing third-party systems.
For those independent businesses that made the leap, the financial rewards in 2020 were significant. According to data from Odeko, coffee shops using order-ahead marketplaces prior to Covid-19 saw a net increase in customers with little-to-no drop-off in existing customers last year.
As 2021 begins, it’s clear that consumer demand for mobile ordering isn’t fading. Independent coffee shops should start the process of adding or upgrading their mobile ordering systems today so that they can position themselves for a successful 2021.
Top Mobile Ordering Platforms for Independent Coffee Shops
1. BeansUp for Coffee Shops
Designed specifically for independent coffee shops, BeansUp’s platform includes mobile ordering, payments, and loyalty components. BeansUp has positioned itself as the less expensive alternative to building a branded mobile app from scratch. Cafes and coffee shops can use BeansUp to create fully branded mobile apps that come with pre-ordering, payments, and loyalty features to keep customers engaged. With BeansUp’s ordering and payment tools, customers can pre-order and pre-pay from their phones. Those mobile app orders then appear on the business’ Order Management Screen, where they can be processed and fulfilled. BeansUp’s design team can create print-ready marketing material files for offline marketing efforts, as well.
Catering to neighborhood coffee shops, bakeries, and cafes, Odeko is focused helping businesses expand their customer base and drive top-line revenue through mobile ordering and supply chain management. Independent coffee shops use Odeko’s platform to manage online ordering, contactless payments, and customer rewards. The platform offers small businesses many of the same tools larger coffee shops have been using for mobile ordering, but at a more realistic price point. Odeko also handles supply chain management and some digital marketing for its users, as well.
SpeedETab works a little differently from the other mobile ordering platforms on this list. The company has a mobile app where consumers can place orders at participating coffee shops and food purveyors, but it also creates branded apps for coffee shops that want to offer a more “high-end experience.” SpeedETab says its branded app solutions are designed in a way that drives revenue and enhances the guest experience with useful features like order tracking, “favorites,” and geolocation. Customers can also pay through SpeedETab’s branded mobile apps. The funds SpeedETab processes are direct deposited into the coffee shop’s account on a two-day rolling basis. SpeedETab integrates with a number of POS solutions, loyalty providers, and payment systems, including Apple Pay, Toast, Revel, and Square.
4. Joe Coffee for Chains and Independent Coffee Shops
Joe Coffee was created to level the playing field between large coffee chains and independent shops. Launched in 2014, Joe Coffee’s app consolidates small coffee providers into a single mobile order-ahead app. That means independent cafes can accept digital orders on a dedicated tablet, direct to the Square POS, or behind an existing POS. Joe Coffee’s creators believe this is the right approach for small coffee shops that want to compete with giants like Starbucks and Dunkin’. Joe Coffee already works with more than 300 coffee shops. The company says it automates marketing and pays for discounts to its partners’ customers, so coffee shops earn more money and their customers stay happy.
Toast’s Cafe and Bakery POS system comes with mobile order-ahead features baked in. The company’s online ordering system facilitates no-contact guest experiences, with tools that customers can use to order ahead from any device or location. Businesses can accept payments online or with a touch-free handheld device at the customer’s vehicle. A loyalty program that’s linked to card purchases gives coffee shops a way to gain additional insights into their customers’ preferences and spending habits. Businesses can also analyze sales data to discover which drinks or pastries are delivering the highest profit margin during any period of time.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.