The Future Of Commerce: An Interview With Square Seller Coffi Co

Recently, digital payments giant Square launched two reports, the Future of Restaurants and the Future of Retail, which demonstrate how UK restaurateurs and retailers are redefining the future of commerce.

Key statistics from both reports include:

  • 97% of consumers now make monthly retail purchases online.
  • Half of UK stores now offer same-day in-store pick-up.
  • 73% of consumers have bought products directly from social media in the past month, and 35% would be interested in a virtual reality (VR) shopping experience.
  • 98% of restaurants have had to reorganise their business in order to survive the past 12 months.
  • One in four consumers consider contactless technology to be critical to their dining experience.
  • 91% of restaurants expect to earn revenue from takeaways in the next twelve months; while one in five expects the majority of sales to come from delivery and takeout sales.

Following the launch of these reports, Finance Monthly speaks to Justin Carty, owner and director of Square seller Coffi Co about the pandemic, the evolution of Coffi Co over the past 18 months, and the company’s goals for the next five years. 

Throughout the peak of the pandemic, what were the toughest challenges that Coffi Co faced?

The last 18 months has presented unprecedented challenges to businesses of all sizes. For Coffi Co, one of our most difficult challenges was adapting to changing regulations to ensure we could keep our employees and customers safe, while still remaining open. 

In a month’s time, we went from implementing social distancing, to closing up all of our shops. From there we totally changed our business and how we operate. We set up a home delivery service, click-and-collect offering and built a Coffi Co app to make it easy for customers to get their Coffi Co favourites, in a way that suits them best. 

This month brought about an incredible amount of change, but having the right platforms in place ensured we could transition from in-store only to click and collect and home delivery quickly, which was essential to our business. For us, Square was invaluable in helping our business transition during this time of incredible change – enabling us to stay open and continue serving our local community in Cardiff. 

How has your business evolved over the last 18 months?

How we operate as a business has wholly changed over the last 18 months. A year and a half ago, all orders would have been made directly at our shops in Cardiff, but now we only use our order-ahead app. It is simple to register your details and once you’ve signed up the ordering system is simple and easy to use. The response from the app is so positive that all business activity is now driven by Square and their order-ahead app. It’s reliable, very efficient, and has allowed us to continue trading during one of the most unpredictable years to date.

Having the right technology in place has enabled Coffi Co to adapt to changing regulations, implement new offerings and even open new locations, all while adhering to government guidelines to keep both staff and customers safe. One of our main challenges was not having the right tools to manage queues until we found Square. We were a modern operation surrounded by payment systems providers that were stuck in a different decade. Due to the scale of our business, we required a bespoke solution – and have implemented Square for Restaurants POS, which we use alongside Square KDS, Square Terminal and Square Stand. 

Square was able to understand our needs and work to deliver a tailored solution for us, helping to ease the pressure on staff serving queues at the till, so they could focus on other parts of the business. We can now utilise these staff members to run our stores in the day to day operation.

Choosing the right technology has set our business up for growth and success. In the last year we have opened a new seafront location in Penarth and also a Gin and Bake lunch offering, to provide food and drink to our Cardiff community. While the last 18 months have been incredibly challenging for Coffi Co, it also has provided us with the opportunity to evolve and grow in entirely new ways.

What are your goals for the coming years?

At Coffi Co, our ambition has always been to provide the best dining and drink experience for those visiting us in Cardiff. In the next few years, we hope to expand our offerings even further – as now we offer venue hire, and we’re breaking new ground, as we’ve recently opened No. 73 by Coffi Co, luxury rooms and suites for those visiting the city. 

On top of growing our business, we’re committed to continually giving back to our community. During lockdown, we provided free coffees and meals to NHS and frontline medical workers – and we’d like to embrace this community spirit as part of our business and how we operate moving forward.

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