The Coffee Company brews up a great e-commerce experience

Fans of The Coffee Company can get their fix of their favourite custom coffee roasts and tea blends no matter where they are, from the specialty coffee roaster’s e-commerce site.

When Marlon and Joel Dubs, the brothers behind Melbourne’s The Coffee Company, closed their store last year for renovation, they were naturally concerned about the impact on sales. The Coffee Company has been blending and roasting coffee beans every day since 1969 and is a well-known destination for gourmet tea and coffee drinkers and home baristas.

The five-week renovation meant that Melbourne’s diehard coffee drinkers could not walk into the Balaclava store to buy their Ethiopian Harrar Organic beans or Lapsang Souchong Premium tea. So, many of them logged on to The Coffee Company’s online store to buy their beans and leaves.

“We saw a significant surge in online sales,” says Marlon Dubs. “There was drop in overall sales during this time, but we increased our online sales by 100 per cent. Many people went online and stayed online.”

Hooked on e-commerce

Australians love to drink coffee. According to IBISWorld, there are approximately 6,600 cafés and coffee shops in Australia, generating around $4 billion in revenue a year. When the Dubs brothers took over The Coffee Company business in 2006, there was an existing e-commerce system that had been set up five years earlier. With only one physical store, the Dubs saw that developing their internet sales would allow them to broaden The Coffee Company’s customer base across the country.

They launched a new website with a more sophisticated e-commerce platform to make the purchasing process simpler and more efficient for customers. “With our new website, you could be purchasing within three clicks. Our cart is one page, not several pages, and to complete the cart, it’s only one click,” says Marlon.

“We inherited the SecurePay payment gateway when we took over the business and it performs all the functions we require – searches, refunds, reconciliation. We initially had the payment gateway on the SecurePay server, but when we redid our website, we made it an integrated gateway and that was seamless.”

Complementary channels

The Coffee Company employs four full-time and four casual staff. Roasting and packing of coffee is done from the Balaclava store. “This means that our 50 to 70 orders a day are filled from the same stock that is sold to the public in store, so it’s extremely fresh and gets out to people within one to four days,” says Marlon.

He adds that the online and bricks-and-mortar stores rely on each other for success. “The bricks-and-mortar store lends a strength to our authenticity – we roast coffee in front of you – and our online store means we can get coffee out to anyone, anywhere in Australia. It’s a combination of the two that makes the offering so dependable,” explains Marlon.

“We have a focus on our online presence in terms of our website, our SEO and our usability, because we see it as an extremely strong sales channel. We dedicate probably more marketing spend to it than anything else.”

Investing in e-commerce

The Dubs brothers plan to relaunch their website this year. “It won’t be just a lick of paint to give it a new look – it’s a whole new website,” says Marlon. “If we aim to continue to grow our business, we need our website to be on the newest platform with the best analytics. It’s actually more costly to keep adding stuff to your old website than to bite the bullet and redo the whole site. The key is to make it easy for your customers.”

The Coffee Company renovation has increased the packing area in store to allow for a projected growth in online business. Marlon says they want customers to have the same kind of experience when shopping online as they would if they were selecting coffee in store – minus the rich aroma of coffee beans.

“They should be able to see what the coffee represents, the flavours, the country of origin and the way it’s roasted,” he says. “They get to have an experiential relationship with the coffee they select.”

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