The road to becoming one of the best coffee shops in London

Keeping up with the Chains

There is no denying that the UK coffee shop industry is dominated by big brand names. Well-known chains like Costa Coffee (1,821 outlets) Starbucks (824 outlets) and Café Nero (580 outlets) represent a large portion of the market and their presence is certainly growing. This doesn’t leave much room for independent coffee shops, but the good news for new shop owners is that there are plenty of ways to differentiate your business from the big players. The following tips from the Trezoro team will help new coffee shop owners keep up with the chains and guide them towards becoming one of the best coffee shops in London!

Understand where you can’t compete: As an independent coffee shop there is no use in trying to compete head to head with the big brands. To fully understand where you can outdo the chains, the first step is identifying where you simply can’t. Two areas where the big brands inevitably have an advantage are locational convenience and price control. Take market leader Costa Coffee for example. They currently have close to 2,000 stores in the UK and they plan to open even more. With a shop on every corner, it’s clear why chains like Costa Coffee dominate in terms of convenience. The situation is similar for price. The massive output by chain coffee shops allow them the flexibility to control the price aspect of competition. So no, as an independent coffee shop you can’t be on every corner, and no you may not be able to offer to cheapest flat white in town. Leave this to the chains and instead focus on the areas where they can’t compete.

Be good to your customers: There’s no denying that consumers will use chains from time to time. The convenience and low prices are sometimes unavoidable; however, there is certainly more consumer satisfaction associated with shopping locally and supporting independent businesses. As a local business this ‘shop local’ trend should be taken full advantage of, but more importantly don’t fail to recognize what customers may be giving up in order to buy from your shop. Consider things such as, “where can we make up for the extra 5 minutes this customer spent getting to our shop?” or “ how can we justify the 50 extra pence this customer spends on their daily espresso?” Both questions can be answered the same way: stellar customer service. Get to know your customers. Greeting a customer by name or remembering their daily order makes them feel valued and gives them an incentive to buy from your shop, instead of that hectic Starbucks which is on their way to work but always gets their order wrong. The little things matter, and customer service is one of the things that can set your shop apart from the chains.

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The road to becoming one of the best coffee shops in London

Coffee Consumption in the UK

It’s no secret that the UK is on the low end of the list when it comes to European coffee consumption. Analysts at Barclays and the International Coffee Association have found that Brits consume only 2.8 kg of coffee per head, just a fraction of the 7 kg per head consumed in countries like Sweden and Germany. What’s surprising, however, is that the UK coffee shop industry is on the rise and there appears to be plenty of room before the market saturates. So what does this mean for local shop owners? The following tips from the Trezoro team are here to help coffee shops manage the consumption habits of their customers and guide them towards becoming one of the best coffee shops in London!

Create an appealing environment: Why is it that the coffee shop industry is able to grow beyond that of actual coffee consumption? The answer lies in the way in which Brits are utilizing coffee shops. They are not using coffee shops only to buy coffee, but also as social meeting points. A tradition once reserved for pubs is shifting towards coffee shops, and pubs are closing at a rate of about 31 per week, according to The Campaign for Real Ale. With that being said, shop owners should increase their focus on selling the ‘coffee shop experience’. Create a welcoming environment with a unique ambiance. A large enough seating area is important in creating a space where people feel comfortable bringing their friends, a wifi connection can serve as a make or break factor for someone looking for a place to get some work done. Getting people into your shop is the hardest part. Once you do that, your products will start to sell themselves.

Consider loyalty schemes: It is less expensive to retain old customers than to acquire new ones, so it is important to treat your current customers well. So once you’ve gotten some customers into your shop you must ask yourself, “how can we get these customers to come back?” or more importantly “how do we get these customers to come back often?” Customer loyalty schemes are a great way to implement a kind of relationship-based marketing and can serve as a thank you to repeat customers while improving your businesses bottom line at the same time. Something as simple as rewarding a customer with a free hot drink for every ten they buy can give an independent coffee shop a competitive edge. While you are rewarding your customers for their consistent business, you are also giving them a reason to buy from your coffee shop instead of the one a few doors down.