The UK’s £10bn coffee sector has delivered an amazing 20 consecutive years of sales and outlet growth with both branded and independent sectors continuing to thrive and independents promoting market-wide premiumisation. According to Statista research, there are now around 7,300 independent cafes in the UK and their march looks set to continue with a further 1,300 outlets forecast by 2023.
But what’s been the background to this success story? The ‘artisan’ coffee shop movement has gained pace over the past decade, and matched by consumer interest in artisan food and the influence of social media as a means to promote these new businesses, the independent coffee shop segment has grown quickly.
‘Third space’ appeal
Growth in independent coffee shops has also been driven by their appeal as a 'third space', a comfortable and welcoming place away from home and the office, which with free Wi-Fi, plug sockets, mobile charging pads, great coffee and buzzy atmosphere has made them an enjoyable and cost-effective place to be for the rising number of remote workers. Their rise has also been fuelled by consumers’ increasing thirst for premium and personalised experiences. Customers are attracted to the carefully sourced coffee and food, passion and skill of well-trained baristas, the attention to detail offered in venue and the often boutique feel of outlets.
Innovation has largely been driven by independent operators with hybrid coffee concepts now featuring evening wine and cocktail bars, as part of yoga studios as well as in cycle, furniture and clothing stores. There is also an increasing number of independent café chains with operators including the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Grind and Caravan among those on the expansion trail.
When it comes to coffee, British consumers’ expectations have never been higher and competition for operators is intensifying with premium and speciality coffee increasingly found in hotels, supermarket cafés, pubs and even in vending machines. As the market matures and enters a new stage, this heralds the notion of operators needing to compete on retail excellence, sharpening their focus on providing an unmatched customer experience to stay ahead of the competition.
The value of loyalty
Attracting and driving footfall is vital for maintaining sales growth momentum in the independent sector and loyalty schemes play a large role in this. According to NPD research, Britain’s coffee shop sector especially attracts loyalty, with one in three customers choosing a specific outlet because they “always or regularly go there” and coffee shops that operate a loyalty programme recording three times more visits than the total out-of-home market. It’s therefore essential to grab a slice of the prize through a reliable and adaptable EPOS system that includes an integrated loyalty function.
Knowledge is power
Having access to the type of customer data that a modern EPOS system provides also allows businesses to get to know their customers, both as individuals and as a broader group, which can feed into personalised loyalty campaigns, helping to boost profitability and repeat visits.
Casio offers a range of low cost, tailored EPOS solutions ideal for cafes and independent coffee shops which can help operators deliver excellent service and remain ahead of the competition in the market.