How technology influences café or coffee shops
by Eugene Y. Santos
For the past few centuries, café or coffee shops have become social hubs around the globe. Through the years, different people have been flocking to cafes not only for a cup of freshly brewed coffee, but also to mingle with others—whether it’s for business or leisure.
It’s easy to understand why. Apart from getting gourmet snacks and drinks, people appreciate the laidback atmosphere that most coffee shops allow for their patrons. They are venues where everyone can do various tasks in a calm and relaxed environment, which can be conducive for a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday living.
Catering to individuals who have discriminating caffeine and leisure proclivities is apparently a lucrative business, especially if we look at the growing global franchises of coffee shop chains such as Starbucks, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL), Seattle’s Best, among others.
In the Philippines alone, coffee shops are a hit among Filipinos. In a nation known for its mostly warm and sociable people, this is not surprising.
“Filipinos are naturally communal,” says Nina Gregorius, brand manager for CBTL in the Philippines. “Coffee shops now serve as an extension of the Filipino home, where family and friends gather to discuss, to enjoy, and to share great coffee or tea.”
According to Gregorius, coffee has always been a part of the Filipino culture, and technology has helped spur the growth of coffee shops in the Philippines. “Business and technology enable accessibility and connection of people to various types of coffee shop experiences,” shares Gregorius.
Needless to say, technology has a pivotal role in a coffee shop’s development and management.
“Technology plays a huge role in our operations, right from making sure that the same quality we are known for all over the world is sealed, delivered, and sustained at the local Philippine setting, even up to the actual preparation of every drink,” relates Gregorius. To illustrate, CBTL uses a Single Serve Beverage System on its drinks and utilizes technologies from New Leaf Ventures on its operations. “We use PayrollHero for employee engagement and TradeGecko to manage our inventory, both of which are cloud-based software. We recognize that the future of running efficient businesses is all about being a step ahead in technology,” adds Gregorius.
And yes, when it comes to having a coffee shop, being updated with the latest in technology also means enabling it to have WiFi. In CBTL’s case, WiFi connections are managed properly by putting passwords on them (to avoid unnecessary piggybacking) and offering them for free on a membership basis through the brand’s Swirl Rewards Card.
More than regulating the use of WiFi, Gregorius says that the membership system allows the brand to further build connections with customers through reward points and social media. “Technology, in this sense, helped us establish effective communication of all our efforts, and to hear the feedbacks and sentiments of our customers, too,” explains Gregorius. “On a more specific level, a simple gesture of posting what you had for breakfast, your choice of tea or coffee on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Foursquare multiplies the reach of communication, therefore affecting the general scheme of the business.”
In general, WiFi has become imperative for dining outlets like coffee shops, given that customers have a constant need to stay online in an increasingly mobile world. Coffee shops, for one, have become working places as well for people on-the-go.
Gregorius views these factors on a positive note. For her, a coffee shop being considered as an ideal place to work or study “indicates a clear sign of valuable service and quality products.”
Filipinos, apparently, are a sophisticated market to cater to, as they are on the lookout for new drink variants and dishes to taste. It also helps that Filipinos are tech-savvy as well, which explains how knowledgeable they are when it comes to worldly lifestyle trends.
“The Filipino consumers are very smart,” observes Gregorius. “We have come to a point wherein it’s not as simple as showing a product—the why and the how have become an integral part of the equation. People know what they want and need, and it pushes the boundaries of the business horizon. This then leads back to the idea of effective communication, and how through your resources, you are able to extend to a lot of discerning customers the importance of your coffee beans or tea leaves.”
For Gregorius, the future of coffee shops here in the Philippines is bright. “With the continuing hunger to learn more about coffee here in the Philippines, there will be a significant increase in demand not just for the coffee itself, but for the stories behind every cup. As we move toward that path, we anticipate nothing but a more exciting future for the industry,” she says.