Order & Pay for cafes and coffee shops
The case for implementing Order & Pay in cafes and coffee shops
You might be more familiar with order and pay systems in pubs, but large coffee shop chains like Starbucks have also been rolling out digital ordering in recent years.
Below, we’ve explained why order and pay systems can be used effectively in both grab & go and sit-down cafes and coffee shops. We also discuss what features you need to look out for to choose the best system for your business.
StoreKit Order & Pay may be the best choice for your business, but you can also take a look at our list of top table ordering apps. You can also find information on epos systems for cafes if you want to get an overview of the relevant point of sale.
How could Order & Pay work for cafes and coffee shops?
Throughput, throughput, throughput
Speed of service is a must in a coffee shop, especially in grab & go businesses.
The cheaper the item, the lower the profit per order. Increasing throughput is key to maximising your profits and retaining customers at peak times. The more your business sees time-based fluctuations, the more important it is to increase your efficiency and maximise business in these peak hours.
An order & pay system is much more efficient than traditional ordering processes. Staff no longer need to take orders and payments. This opens up staff labour, which can instead be used to prepare food and drinks.
It’s also a more practical way of doing business. Digital ordering can prevent mistakes in orders which happen when staff manually take orders and communicate them to other staff members. These mistakes can be costly in the long run, wasting time and money. Order & pay systems also remove inefficiencies caused by customers – “I know my card is in here somewhere…”
In busy hours, even savings of a few seconds per customer increases the total number of customers a shop can serve significantly.
However, not all order & pay systems are made equal. Some choices actually cause inefficiency, rather than reducing it. Avoid systems that need app downloads or account creations – customers in a hurry will not want to do either. Instead, use a QR code menu or an automatic redirect for Wi-Fi users. The easier it is to use your digital menu, the higher your throughput.
Queues lose customers
In a grab & go cafe, where customers are likely to value speedy service, longer queues can get in the way of spending.
Queuing loses customers in the short-term. According to Qminder, 86% of Brits avoid shops if they think the queue is too long. 25% of customers won’t wait longer than 2 minutes in a queue. This figure increases to 73% at 5 minutes. Queues can lose you business – and this is especially true for grab & go services, where customers are buying cheaper items and want to be served quickly.
And queuing loses customers in the long-term, too. Beyond making you lose an opportunity to sell a single time, queues can also inflict long-term damage on your customer loyalty. A study by Box Technologies suggests that 70% of shoppers are unlikely to return to a store with a long queue, showing that brands with long queues can rarely continue to attract the same customers. Grab & go businesses often rely on returning customers, so losing customers due to queues can be particularly damaging. (Also check out our guide to hacking queues if this is an issue for your cafe.)
In traditional ordering processes, all customers stand in the same line, regardless of how quickly or slowly they want to order. This can be very frustrating for both types of customers.
Order & pay systems let customers order and pay at their own pace, dissolving the need to get in line. Customers in a hurry or who know exactly what they want can order and pay quickly without being slowed down by the customers who need more time.
Digital ordering also makes pre-ordering easier. Pre-ordering is less practical for items like drinks, but it can work for sandwiches or salads which are less affected by time and temperature. With build-your-own sandwiches and salads, customers can choose their ingredients earlier on, instead of in the shop. This can make queues in busy lunch hours smaller and lets customers pick lunch up more quickly.
StoreKit Order & Pay lets you limit the number of customers pre-ordering in each time slot, so that you have more control over your business.
Less pressure, more orders
Order & pay systems speed up the ordering process. But they can also encourage longer menu browsing and more spending by removing pressure for customers.
This might sound overly dramatic – but the traditional ordering process can be stressful. When you reach the counter, a busy barista is looking at you expectantly. You scan the menu board, trying to remember what you wanted. You can feel the impatience of the customers waiting behind you. These pressures can make customers rush through their orders. They might then choose an item that they’re not completely happy with or forget to order something.
Even tiny changes in how stressed a customer feels during the ordering process can result in small differences in how much they order – so it’s not too “dramatic” for your focus.
Digital menus remove these pressures and give customers more control over their orders. For instance, Taco Bell saw average customer spending was 20% higher for digital orders. Digital ordering lets customers choose what they want at a leisurely pace – and more browsing means bigger baskets and more sales.
Order & pay systems help to boost orders in ways that feel very natural.
Customisation of orders is common in cafes and coffee shops. And yet in cafes, where accessing a menu often involves squinting at a board overhead, customisation options can often be less obvious. The back-and-forths to try to figure out what’s available – “do you have oat milk?” – are time-consuming. With digital ordering, it’s much easier to make customers aware of these options – for instance, adding toppings to a drink or swapping in a plant-based milk.
A digital menu can easily be set up to suggest appropriate modifiers and additional orders each time a user selects an item. Order and pay systems are able to make these suggestions in a very natural way – “make drink bigger for £1.20?” or “add muffin for £2.80?”
Menus that offer customisation and add-on options sell more. And, crucially, increasing customer spending in this way creates an elevated customer experience and higher satisfaction levels.
Reduce economic dead space
If your coffee shop has seats and tables, a traditional ordering system could be preventing sales. In a non-digital system, a customer who buys a drink and finds a seat may be unwilling to leave their seat to order a second time. They might be worried about losing their seat or they might not want to get up to queue and stand around waiting for their items yet again. And, by the time a queue gets shorter, the moment may be over.
So you end up with occupied seats that aren’t bringing you sales. These seats turn into economic ‘dead spaces’. In fact, even worse, you’re paying rent to create these seats, so they could be causing a financial drain if they’re not driving sales.
Order and pay systems should solve this issue. Letting customers order from their seats, makes it easier for them to buy more drinks or food when they want to. As staff would no longer need to take orders and payments, this should open up labour for items to be delivered to seats.
Not needing tills means surplus space. This space can also be turned into seats – so more opportunities to do business. Alternatively, it could mean that you reduce your shop space, cutting rent.
No more awkward moments
From trying and failing to tell the barista your name, to being unsure whether a cup of coffee is yours, awkward moments are inevitable with traditional ordering processes in cafes and coffee shops. These issues might seem trivial, but they can create stressful moments for customers. They can also create inefficiencies which can lead to fewer sales in busy hours.
Order & pay systems can help to solve these issues. StoreKit Order & Pay isn’t an app, but as a progressive web app, it has push notifications. These can let customers know when an order is ready, reducing confusion and mix-ups. Digital ordering also means that items are tied to names, reducing back-and-forths and mistakes.
Choosing the best order & pay system for your cafe or coffee shop
Simplicity and ease of use are key
Customers will usually choose the easiest way to order. This is especially true in a cafe or coffee shop where fast service is key. An order and pay system that is quick and simple to use allows customers to make purchases quickly.
This means you should avoid app downloads and account creations. StoreKit Order & Pay requires neither, and customers only need to scan a QR code. But as a progressive web app, it keeps the best features of an app, like push notifications.
Interior and atmosphere are usually important to a customer’s perception of a cafe or coffee shop. A digital menu is a part of this, and so should reflect your business.
Make sure to choose an order and pay system that has a customisable menu. For example, you should be able to tweak the colour scheme and add descriptions and images that accurately show what products you have to offer.
Make sure you can integrate
Here at StoreKit, we believe in a “best of breed” approach. This means making sure you combine the software that works best for you for the various aspects of your business – inventory management, accounting, staff management, for instance. Your order and pay system should be able to communicate with these other parts of your business so that it’s your software doing the hard work, not you.
Luckily, StoreKit Order & Pay can be integrated with over 30 EPOS systems – take a look.