The Future of the Café Industry Amid the Pandemic

Blog / May 29, 2020

Just months after the novel coronavirus started spreading like wildfire around the world, it has already caused significant damage in more ways than one — economies are crashing, industries were put on an indefinite hiatus, and the weaknesses of healthcare systems were exposed — not to mention the lives lost due to the COVID-19 disease that comes with it.

Given the nature of this virus and the illness it causes, nations are now starting to introduce ways that would usher in a ‘new normal’ to society.

But what does this mean for an industry that centers on gathering people within close distances? How are we to expect cafés to thrive in the future where social and physical distancing protocols are to be observed as the new norm?

The answer to these questions centers on the business owners’ willingness to promote health and safety in their establishments partnered with efforts to advocate a contactless experience.

While it can’t be denied that there will still be fear in the minds of consumers, it’s good enough to know that some countries are heralding new ways to enjoy out-of-home coffee drinking.




New creative methods

Independent consulting firm Coffee Business Intelligence shared an article about the innovative ways several countries are putting in place in an effort to normalize coffee drinking in cafés once more.

In China, where the coronavirus originated and has since been controlled, coffee shops are launching automated coffee machines to lessen the need for physical contact between baristas and customers.

In Thailand, a specialty café now operates a rope and pulley system in order to serve drinks to customers from a distance of one metre.

However, there are countries that are not as fluid for café owners. In Malaysia, for example, customers will no longer be allowed to dine in and only takeaway orders will be accommodated. The same goes for coffee shops in Singapore.

Others, meanwhile, are working on boosting their drive-through services and looking into more digital solutions like developing a mobile app or introducing online payment methods.


Launching new products and market strategies

If it’s challenging to invite customers back to coffee shops, owners might also want to consider releasing new product offerings to mitigate financial losses.

In Australia, where more people are now opting to purchase their coffee from the supermarket, the future of the cafe industry could be bleak. But several establishments are already planning to introduce new products and update their marketing strategies.

With reduced operations, some cafés are making their coffee products available for purchase in other stores while others are now offering free delivery to customers. There are also establishments selling gift cards and vouchers which can be redeemed once normal business operations resume.

Design upgrades and essential renovations

Cafés, of course, are more than just coffee sellers to people these days. Aside from a usual spot where customers partake their morning coffee and pastry, they are also popular meeting places for friends and colleagues.

This means that interior design and overall ambiance will still be important factors for businesses post-pandemic. Café owners might want to look into the possibility of renovating their spaces to adhere to social distancing measures.

With the increase in online sales, it could be a great opportunity to lessen the number of tables and seats inside the shop. This is effective in ensuring that there are fewer people in close proximity to one another. For those who have the luxury of outdoor space, al fresco dining is also a wonderful idea.

Overall, it’s really up to café owners how they want to move forward when the pandemic is controlled. Market research can only do so much for a business. Innovations in equipment and highly adaptive business processes also play an important role, especially at a time when everything seems to be volatile.


Implementation of safety measures within establishments

Updated business processes, marketing strategies, and interior renovations take time to produce significant results if any. So for café owners who would like to see immediate results translating to their sales, there needs to be something that would encourage people to visit the shops.

Gift vouchers and new products could surely help but it takes more effort to convince customers to be out and about again, especially after being in isolation for weeks or months in fear of contracting the disease.

The best way to address this is by showing your customers how you plan to take care of them while inside the premises. Be transparent in your ways to prevent the virus from breeding and spreading within the shop. Some of the simplest ways to do this include:

  • Frequent sanitizing and disinfection in the establishment
  • Checking temperatures of employees and customers
  • Having staff members undergo tests, especially when they begin showing symptoms
  • Running on skeleton workforce
  • Making alcohol and sanitizers readily available inside the shop
  • Requiring employees to wear protective gear at all times

Aside from these, it would also be nice for owners to consult with design specialists with regard to interior upgrades. 360 Shopfitters offers design solutions to business owners who are looking to renovate their establishments. The company could help in introducing a more inventive styling that is consistent with the new safety measures being put in place. Of course, without compromising aesthetics.