Technology has transformed not only the way we consume goods and services, but also our expectations of them. The rise of the internet, smartphones, and home delivery signify now more than ever we expect products to reach as quickly, seamlessly, and conveniently as is possible.
The coffee industry has been no stranger to these developments. Online orders and coffee subscription services have soared in popularity lately, with the quantity of coffee subscription sales increasing by 109% over the last year in the US alone.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, this trend has only accelerated as the widespread closure of coffee shops has forced increasingly more consumers to gratify their coffee craving at home. Consequently, many specialty roasters have launched their own subscription services to keep serving customers through the pandemic and make up for lost footfall.
How Can Specialty Roasters REAP THE BENEFITS OF Offering A Subscription Service?
Over the last year, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has hit many coffee businesses hard. Lockdowns and social distancing measures forced many places to shut their doors, resulting in a substantial loss of income.
While some decided to close permanently, others were quick to launch coffee subscription services as a way of supplementing income and staying at the forefront of customers’ minds. It allowed them to continue serving customers and focus on the growing number of folks brewing coffee at home. According to a recent survey by the National Coffee Association (NCA), 85% of US coffee consumers now drink at least one glass of coffee at home.
Tobias Taylor is marketing executive at Voyager Coffee, a UK-based coffee subscription service. He tells me the particular one of the greatest benefits associated with subscription services is that they permit roasters to get an improved notion of inventories and plan ahead accordingly.
“Coffee Subscriptions give businesses greater control when it comes to buying and storing green coffee because they know exactly how many customers they have that month,” he explains. “It allows them to accurately predict outgoing volumes, which means they can confidently invest in buying coffee at certain price points from smallholder farms. It will help prevent coffee going to waste as roasters need only purchase approximately they want.”
This level of foresight allows roasters to implement business strategies more decisively, while not having to worry about factors like a drop in footfall.
Aside from business operations, coffee subscriptions offer an opportunity for businesses to form stronger, more long-term relationships with their customers through personalisation. This is because when customers register to a subscription service, they must enter details about their preferences, such as roast profile, brewing method, flavour notes, and number of cups consumed each day.
With this information, specialty roasters can learn a lot more about their customers than they could possibly in a supermarket. They can then personalise their products based on the needs of the customer, for example, sending links to videos on how to enhance their brewing method or including a leaflet on the “story” behind their coffee.
Being able to provide a more personalised experience in this way has a number of benefits. A recently available study by Deloitte found that 36% of individuals are prone to buy products that offer personalisation, while nearly half said they might be willing to wait longer to receive personalised products.
How To Launch A Coffee Subscription Service
Launching a coffee subscription service offers various advantages to specialty coffee roasters. However, before you start, there are many facts to consider to ensure you maximise your odds of success.
Tobias suggests that roasters begin by examining their existing customer base and learning what they look for when buying coffee. For example, do they value trying new origins or do they prefer consistency? Are they much more likely to drink light roasts or dark roasts? Do they want a subscription for the convenience, cost, or even to discover different coffees?
Asking these sorts of questions gives roasters a clearer notion of who their customers are, what motivates them, and how they can offer a subscription that works.
It’s also important to think about the customer experience, from the usability of the website to the additional resources on offer. It’s rare for customers of coffee subscriptions to exit the website right after signing up to regular deliveries.
More often than not, they’ll want to determine as much information as they can, from the company and its values, to the storyplot behind the farmers who grow their coffee. Videos demonstrating how customers can recreate barista-style coffees at home are also effective.