Being a Melbournian, I take pride in being able to make a good coffee. Right temperature, freshly ground coffee, some skills and you have it. So it crossed my mind that with almost every Melbournian a coffee lover, it can’t be so difficult to establish a successful coffee shop. Probably that’s why there are so many coffee shops around in the city.
Well, I was wrong. It’s not that easy in commercial terms, says Alex Samoun, owner at Temptag and Cortado Coffee in Melbourne. Alex is a good friend and a coffee expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. Alex presented a very good take on the subject and so I was inclined to share it with you here on our blog. Here it is:
Many coffee shops commence their business thinking that once you’ve mastered the coffee making skills, you’re ready to give it a go. Well, yes and no, says Alex. What about the coffee shop design? Design of a coffee shop is as important as coffee itself and it may or may not be in your skillset zone.
Coffee shops are all about the experience. Your customers visit you to have a great experience and so your shop’s design is as important to attract new customers and entice them to keep coming back.
So, do you own a perfect coffee shop or are you ready to design one? Let’s find out. The following five elements are important for designing a commercially successful coffee shop.
1. Shop culture that appeals to your target customers
As we already talked, coffee shops are all about serving a great experience. You should not design it based on your own preference. If you’re not sure about unique features of your coffee shop or what appeals to your target customers, do a bit of research first.
Find out what appeals to your local customers – modern, retro, relaxing, fancy, child-friendly, French or healthy? Decide it based on preference of your largest customer group, not your own. For example, if your coffee shop is located in a middle of outer city suburb with most population comprising of young parents, you better be prepared to have child-friendly features in your shop. Similarly, your aged or retired audience have a different expectation and taste.
First things first, figure out majority of your target audience and half of your job is already done.
2. Storefront design
Let’s talk your shop’s exterior design. It should primarily be based on your shop’s concept. Your storefront design should instantly convey your shop’s culture / concept. However, you should also consider following:
- Will you have outdoor seating?
- Is your local council going to let you place umbrellas and barriers for outside seating?
- What are other regulatory requirements set by your local council and/or shopping centre?
3. Branding & signage
Again, your shop’s branding and signage should reflect your concept / culture. Try to match anything and everything from material, colours and fonts to theme.
Also, make sure that it is easy to read and identify. It is always wise to choose a catchy name that your customers can easily remember and pronounce. Ensure that you don’t overcomplicate it in attempt to make it standout. Put simply, your brand and signage should provide a quick overview of your business to the passer by prosects.
4. In-store design
So, we are back to discussing the customer experience. Your coffee shop’s interior is the most important design element. Don’t forget, your customers are buying an experience, not just a cup of coffee. It is just like buying a caravan. Yes, it is a mode of transport, but it has more to do with experience than transport.
One of the common mistakes is that owners make slight concept deviations in different sections of the shop. Your concept should always be constant and evident throughout your shop from artwork, colour scheme, wall décor, to the dining area, seating area, display cabinets and counter. Most importantly, choose your store lighting that goes with the mood that you are trying to create. The word ‘ambience’ is widely used in the industry for a reason!
5. Store layout
Another widely seen common mistake is that some owners end up overdoing their shop’s interior decoration. Please be mindful of the space and setting of your coffee shop. Be wise, improvise and design in accordance with space and layout of your shop.
Smartly laid out shop will allow your staff to efficiently operate and move around the shop. It also gives a sense of space to your guests and makes them feel comfortable. You must neither design it for employees, not customers. In fact, you should consider both, get an optimum balance and lay it out accordingly.
Be very clear about what you need. Do not rush, once you are sure about expectations of your target audience, you can get started on it.