Cafe Software: Tech Solutions to Streamline Your Coffee Shop
Opening a little cafe is the ultimate pipe dream for a lot of people.
But, as cafe managers and owners know, owning a cafe can be hard work. Between finding skilled and motivated staff, enticing potential customers away from the competition, and keeping a tight eye on inventory and costs, running a cafe can feel like walking a tightrope at times.
But cafe software and technology can help you overcome those challenges and keep your dream running smoothly. This article will explore some of the software commonly used in cafes, current trends in cafe software, and how you can use cafe software to increase revenues.
Common Restaurant Software Solutions Used in Cafes
The most common restaurant software solutions used in cafes include POS software, restaurant management software, inventory management software, and staffing solutions.
POS Systems for Cafes
The best POS system for cafes should be fast and efficient enough to keep up with the fast-paced work environment of a typical cafe. Today’s cafe customers expect to be able to pay by contactless card, digital or mobile payments — and your POS system should meet those needs to maintain and improve customer satisfaction.
Pro Tip: Cafes tend to be a high staff-turnover environment. The restaurant POS system you choose should be easy to use, to minimize training and onboarding for new employees.
Inventory Management Systems for Cafes
Cafes — like most hospitality businesses — tend to run on exceptionally tight margins. Properly monitoring inventory to reduce waste and cut COGS is essential to the success of your cafe. Modern, cloud-based inventory management software such as MarketMan gives you access to inventory data in real time, so you have full control over day-to-day decision-making in your cafe.
Staffing Systems for Cafes
Cafes are both notoriously fast-paced, and notoriously high-turnover environments. Engaged staff members who are happy with their job can make or break a cafe. Happy employees provide better service, which increases sales and brings in repeat customers.
That’s why it is so important to motivate, train, and look after staff. A staffing solution such as 7Shifts makes it easy to create schedules that work for your peak times and for your staff availability, communicate with workers, and track and control staff performance.
Restaurant Management Systems for Cafes
While a small cafe may not need all the bells and whistles of a full restaurant management system, large cafes, or cafe chains, can benefit from restaurant management software. Restaurant management systems can help cafe and restaurant operators and owners manage inventory, staffing, and payment processing, all in a single system. Lightspeed Restaurant is a great restaurant management system for cafes.
Trends in Cafe Software
Trends in cafe software largely follow trends across the restaurant management software market and the wider restaurant industry. One of the biggest restaurant technology shifts in cafe culture over the last few years has been the ushering-in of contactless payment options. Even as we begin to put COVID contamination fears in the rearview mirror, contactless and digital payments are here to stay.
Other trends in the sector include more remote workers using coffee shops as their office, an increased expectation for loyalty programs, and pre-ordering via mobile to further speed up the exchange.
If you haven’t added contactless payments yet, you might be hesitant about the cost, particularly for a business processing lots of small transactions, such as a cafe, as opposed to fewer but larger transactions that come in a full-service restaurant. In fact, 67% of retailers cited increased costs and processing fees as a top concern for using contactless payments. But banks don’t charge any differently for card payments, whether they are made by swipe, chip & PIN, contactless or via a digital wallet such as Google Pay or Apple Pay.
Additionally, 63% of consumers say that they would switch to a business that installed contactless payment options. This increase in customers and sales could easily cancel out any additional expense.
Pro Tip: Contactless payments are faster, cleaner, and safer than other transactions, all of which can increase both customer loyalty and employee satisfaction.
Running a cafe can be a complex business. That’s why restaurant POS software with automation features can be such a good investment for cafe and restaurant owners and managers. POS automation can help you to manage workflows for faster and more accurate service. They can also integrate with your inventory management system to give you real-time data on stock levels, and automate the ordering process so that you don’t run out of the essentials.
POS software can help you meet the demand for preorders, as well. A busy cafe or coffee shop might be your customers' first-port-of-call for their morning caffeine on the way to the office and pre-ordering via your website or an app gives them another way to control — and speed up — their morning routine.
Food delivery features can also be a hit, with more and more people opting for breakfast and lunch delivered straight to their home or office. An advanced POS should be able to handle and collate food delivery orders from multiple sources.
Loyalty programs have long been a mainstay of cafes and coffee shops. How many ‘tenth coffee free’ stamp cards have you had floating in your wallet or at the bottom of your purse over the years?
But technology has made loyalty programs more sophisticated. The right POS system can give you integrated access to customer loyalty programs that gather, collate, and analyze data about customer transactions, so you can personalize offers to your most loyal customers. Buyer behavior data can also help you to make decisions about the day-to-day running and menu offerings at your cafe.
In a 2019 study almost 50% of surveyed consumers said they had visited a restaurant for the first time because of a social media post. Since then, social media has only grown more essential for pulling in and engaging customers. Cafes can cultivate customer loyalty with behind-the-scenes social videos, enhance brand recognition with contests, and supplement marketing spend with paid social campaigns to bring customers to your door.
Now that remote work is more common, cafes and coffee shops are looking to entice workers with deals on food and coffee, as well as free WiFi access. Making sure you have the connectivity and security infrastructure to handle remote workers is important if you want to fill up with all-day trade. Cafes and restaurants can now outsource this to managed WiFi services, to give you one less thing to worry about and keep those remote work customers happy.
How to Use Software to Increase Revenue for Your Cafe
Some of the cafe software options listed here can help increase revenue directly through increased restaurant sales. Social media and other restaurant marketing can bring new customers through the door, for example, and customer loyalty programs keep them coming back for more. In-store technology such as managed WiFi and contactless payment processing can also form a big part of the decision-making process for potential customers weighing up the options for their next caffeine hit.The right POS software can also give your customers new ways to order, from order-ahead to online ordering via your website, to third-party delivery apps, you can no longer rely on walk-ins as your only source of cafe or restaurant revenue. Equally, access to extensive restaurant analytics can help you to make decisions about everything from menus to staffing, to suppliers, which can all help to increase cafe revenue by giving customers exactly what they want, when they want it.