400 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide each year.
Start your business planning by deciding exactly what you want to deliver, to whom and how..
Build a solid technology platform to help you manage orders and deliveries.
Lay the administrative and legal foundations of your business, including a marketing strategy.
Launch a website and social media accounts.
Do you want to start a successful delivery business? Coffee could be your way in. It’s one of the most popular beverages in the world — more than 400 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide each year. The market for coffee is expected to hit USD$20 billion this year, with a CAGR of 13% through 2027.
The demand is clearly there, but how do you actually launch a coffee delivery business? We’re going to walk you through the steps, from planning to fruition, to help you bring your dream to life.
Choosing the type of coffee business you love
Every successful business starts with a plan, and a coffee delivery service is no exception. So, start by deciding what kindof delivery service you want to offer Ask yourself:
What do you want to deliver?
Coffee beans or ground coffee?
What types of coffee do you want to offer?
Whodo you want to serve?
Howdo you want to deliver?
If you run an existing coffee shop, you may already have these questions sorted out and have an established customer base, which will make the planning stage much easier. Your delivery business can simply be an extension of your brick-and-mortar shop.
If this is a brand-new business, determining your what, who, and how will help you flesh out a plan to launch your delivery service and grow your customer base.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can move on to the next important step: choosing a business model.
Decide on your business model
Now that you have a general idea of what you want to offer, let’s flesh out your business model.
1. Who will you serve?
Will your delivery service be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C)?
The way you operate, your delivery options, and your marketing strategy will all depend on whom you’re serving.
Consumers, for example, may just want their daily cup of coffee delivered to their doorstep. An office coffee service, on the other hand, may involve delivering fresh coffee beans to the office breakroom or leasing coffee machines in addition to high-quality coffee. Some B2B coffee businesses also offer K-cups for office Keurig machines.
Because their needs differ greatly, B2B coffee delivery may be more involved and require more than just a small delivery van or car.
2. Where will you operate?
Will you run on the ghost cafe model (delivery only with no storefront for customers to visit), or will you have a physical location where guests can order?
The ghost cafe model can work for both B2B and B2C.
3. Will you offer subscription options?
Subscriptions provide guaranteed monthly recurring revenue, and they can also help reduce churn rates if you make the deal appealing enough.
For example, customers who sign up for a weekly delivery subscription and pay for their drinks a week in advance may pay a lower price for their coffee. To entice them to sign up, you can offer a coupon that gives them a percentage off of their first order.
Subscriptions make even more sense if you’re delivering bags of whole-bean or ground coffee. Customers will be inclined to sign up for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly deliveries because they’ll need to restock their coffee supply. Delivery services are more convenient than making a trip to the store, and subscriptions take the guesswork out of the equation.
4. What kind of delivery schedule will you have?
Delivery management is another critical consideration. What type of delivery schedule will you offer?
On-demand: Customers place an order and receive their coffee in a short period of time. On-demand delivery works just like most other food delivery services.
Regular scheduled: Deliveries occur on a scheduled basis using planned routes for maximum efficiency.
Regularly scheduled deliveries are ideal for subscription coffee delivery services because you’re serving the same customers.
On-demand deliveries are more convenient for customers, but they are more complicated for businesses. You’ll need to have an agile delivery team and a robust delivery management system to ensure orders are delivered on time.
Build your technology platform
At this point, you have a solid idea of what you want to offer, who you want to serve, and how you want to handle deliveries. But to keep your business running smoothly, you’ll need to get your tech in order. You will need to decide:
1. Ordering systems
A simple, streamlined ordering system should make it quick and easy for both returning and new customers to place orders. An e-commerce platform like WooCommerce, Shopify, or Square will make it easier to get started. They will also allow you to accept multiple payment options, like PayPal, credit, debit, and Apple Pay.
The quicker and easier it is to place an order and pay, the better.
2. Delivery systems
Will you use a third-party platform like Grubhub or DoorDash for your deliveries, or will you handle deliveries in-house?
One advantage of investing in your own delivery fleet is that you have more control over the customer experience and the efficiency of deliveries. With third-party services, you’re at the mercy of their drivers — who may or may not be efficient and professional.
If you take the in-house route, the right software can reduce the complexity of managing deliveries and planning routes. A platform like Routific can help. Just upload your delivery addresses, and Routific’s AI-powered algorithm will automatically optimize routes for your drivers. You can even dispatch the routes straight to your smartphones. Customers can keep track of their deliveries, and you can track the locations of your drivers in real-time.
Get the admin done
Your business plan should be outlined to the best of your abilities. You’ll want to:
Come up with a business name.
Register your business in accordance with your local laws.
Obtain any license or permits that you may need to operate the business.
Work with a business lawyer or similar to help you incorporate your business and obtain the required permits and licenses.
In the meantime, you should:
Start developing your menu options and the products that you’ll be delivering.
Contact vendors and suppliers.
Develop a marketing strategy. Where is your ideal target market located? Will you offer free coffee as a promotion? How about a loyalty program? Is promoting on social media or locally an option?
What logistics will you need in place to allow for online ordering and delivery?
Additionally, will you offer upselling, such as food delivery and sweeteners? If you deliver coffee, your buyers may also want a pastry or cookies. Offering these options opens the door to increasing your average order value.
Launch your online presence
You’ve spent a lot of time planning your business, but now comes the exciting part: creating your online presence. At the very least, you need:
An easy-to-use business website.
A social media presence.
In the future, you may also want to develop your own app that offers easy ordering on the go, loyalty programs, and all of the bells and whistles.
First, let’s start with your website.
1. Create a website for customers and marketing
Work with web designers to come up with a user-friendly design that makes it easy to:
View your products and services.
Contact you for more information.
Create an account and order deliveries.
View customer testimonials and reviews
Browse through your photo galleries and menus.
Modern websites that offer responsive design concepts are easy to view on both smartphones and desktops.
You’ll want to test out e-commerce solutions, too.
On your website, don’t forget to promote the coffee brands you offer, the brewers you work with, and anything else that makes your business stand out.
Think of your company’s website as a digital cafe where visitors from across the world can order coffee delivery.
2. Build a social media presence
You may need a web designer to help with your website, but you also need to create a social media presence. A lot of this process you can do on your own if you would rather not hire someone to assist you with:
Creating your accounts.
Adding a bio, branding, and filling out your profile.
Posting on your account multiple times a week.
Businesses should be on as many social platforms as they can, such as:
You can pay for exposure on all of these platforms or simply build up your following organically. Multiple platforms are available that will allow you to schedule posts and somewhat automate your socials.
Developing an app will require working with a team of developers. An app opens up the possibility of loyalty programs, easy ordering, and staying connected to customers in new, exciting ways.
Once you begin attracting customers, you may even want to branch out into new markets.
Start small and branch out
Whether you start a coffee delivery business or one of the other delivery ideas we wrote about previously, you’ll quickly find a newfound appreciation for supply chains. Keeping deliveries running smoothly is much more challenging than people assume.
If you expand too quickly, you risk:
Service quality falling.
Cash flow running dry.
Instead of chasing every new possible customer segment, start small:
Offer delivery locally.
Expand delivery to local regions.
Expand into new countries.
Of course, you can also choose to stay local! Whatever you choose, keep your service and quality consistent by always having the team and resources you need to handle the complexities of growth. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
Consider a bricks-and-mortar location
If your coffee delivery business is thriving, why not expand to brick-and-mortar locations? Of course, you can run your operations 100% online with an e-commerce solution, but look at Starbucks.
The chain has 38,000 stores worldwide, and if you ever drive by one of the company’s locations, they’re always busy.
If you’re not interested in this business model, you can always:
Operate an online business delivering goods.
Expand to selling coffee equipment, creamers, or simply beans or coffee grinds.
Again, if your passion remains offering fast coffee deliveries and you’re content with this segment, there’s no need to expand into other segments.
Monitor and adapt your coffee delivery business as you grow and gather more feedback
You’ve done it. You have a coffee delivery business, connected with local roasters, executed your business plan, and have a target market that loves your service. Everything is going great, but things can rapidly change.
It’s estimated that 1-in-5 businesses will fail in the first year alone.
If you want to be a thriving small business for decades to come, you’ll need to:
Monitor your business’s financials, including your cash flow and debts.
Adapt to industry changes.
Potentially eliminate products with low profit margins.
Throughout the year, you’ll want to gather feedback from your customers and make changes that can help your delivery business continue to grow.
Anyone can have a startup, but you’re up against other coffee companies that are trying to cash in on a drink that billions of people drink worldwide. If you have a passion for the industry, why not try to build a living around it?
Rene Emery is a B2B/Finance/SaaS writer who focuses on clear, concise, and optimized content. Leveraging 12+ years of experience, she relies on her work with hundreds of companies worldwide to create content that speaks to readers and makes difficult topics easy to understand.
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