The Coffee Apps Battle is Just Beginning

Avid coffee drinkers with busy lifestyles are used to the drill. You hop in your car, speed off to work and hit up the most conveniently located coffee shop on the way. When you arrive you rattle off your order to the employee at the drive-through window or behind the front counter, then after fumbling with your cash for a second or sifting through your credit cards, you pay for your hot drink and are on your way.

Sound familiar?

The coffee industry in Australia and abroad is undergoing significant change at present. The introduction of mobile apps to make purchasing of beverages and customer rewards even more convenient is being led by coffee giants such as Starbucks who have released their own purpose-built mobile apps is just the beginning.

The Starbucks iPhone app allows you to pay at the store with your phone, lets you locate nearby Starbucks franchises using GPS, and gives you a quick overview of the beverage menu. Repeat Starbucks customers have been downloading the app in droves, signifying the success of this turn toward tech in the coffee industry, with an Android version of the Starbucks app to be made available soon.

Another poster child for the coffee app concept is Tim Horton's, the coffee shop that is ubiquitous throughout Canada. The TimmyMe app, available for Android and iPhone, displays many of the same features found in the Starbucks app. The GPS-based restaurant locator, the scan-to-pay barcode technology and the extensive menu found on the TimmyMe app are undoubtedly appealing to coffee drinkers in Canada and the US, so get ready Australia, the big two North American chains are already playing in the space, so expect this to become the norm soon.

At the time of writing this article, major Australian coffee chains including Zarraffa's, Gloria Jeans, The Coffee Club and Stellarossa have not yet created apps for their brands to utilise in the local market. This poses a major opportunity for these organisations to move into the tech space and innovate similar to how Domino’s Pizza has done in their industry. These include:

  1. Pre-ordering: Pre-built coffee apps can allow you to place an order before you’ve arrived at the shop, which saves time and cuts down on incorrect orders and wait times.
  2. Increased customer loyalty: Many coffee consumers are loyal to particular stores or brands, and having a user-friendly app that gives you quick and easy access to your favourite brands is a surefire way to increase customer loyalty. Pair that with rewards programs and contests—which can easily be managed through a mobile app—and you have an excellent opportunity to retain your most devoted customers.
  3. Data analytics: What’s the most popular coffee ordered by customers on Wednesday afternoons? Why do customers in a particular town choose to visit your brand's store in a neighbouring city instead of going to the store closest to them? An app with even the simplest data analytics package can answer these types of questions and more and help you to build a comprehensive customer database which can be used for any number of purposes.
  4. Special updates: If you're rolling out exciting changes to your stores or your menu, it's easy to notify your customer base using mobile push notifications. Within a matter of seconds, you can broadcast updates surrounding new menu items or the locations of upcoming stores thanks to incredibly affordable and easy to use mobile notification capabilities.
  5. Promotions: Making coupons available through an app and running a giveaway for app users is just one example of how promotions can increase user involvement and improve customer loyalty. Promotions in general are a great way to acquire new customers. By running promotions through a mobile app instead of a bricks and mortar store, you can reach a greater number of customers and boost sales more readily.

The Rewardle loyalty platform

Many key players in the food and beverage industry have moved to apps to streamline operations and to solidify brand loyalty. For Australian business owners who haven't yet felt inclined to take the plunge toward building a fully fledged mobile app, the Rewardle platform has provided a place to start implementing some of the features tech-minded customers and business owners are looking for.

Rewardle is a cloud-based solution that is capable of running membership programs, managing pre-payments, gift cards and enabling online and mobile ordering for businesses.

Founded in 2015, Rewardle has entered a space with millions of potential users and ample opportunity for brand partnerships with companies both large and small, and is growing rapidly throughout Australia.

Although Rewardle has the hallmarks of a powerful business tool, it's still in the early growth stages and its hyper-localised focus might not fit the needs of companies with national or international franchising aspirations.

Businesses using the platform need to budget for recurring costs when using the service, and don't receive the benefits that a purpose-built tool carries such as their individual branding and custom features. Additionally if technical issues arise, there isn't a dedicated tech team in place that can spend hours assisting your business with troubleshooting.

What's next?

Australian coffee chains and shops have a fantastic opportunity to pair tech with their dedicated base of consumers building increased customer loyalty and repeat business. Most coffee shops don't have an in-house tech team, but there are plenty of local businesses that can help coffee shop owners build an app that suits their needs and helps grow their customer base.

To learn more about how OSE can help your business grow their customer base, visit our mobile application development page or contact us for a confidential discussion.