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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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How to Make Your Café Stand Out from the Crowd


These days, the majority of cafés are high street chains taking a page out of Starbuck’s book. Each has its own brand and together it may feel like they’ve covered all the bases between them (e.g. EAT is more for food, Cafè Nero more for coffee and Costa for comfort, etc.). You might think it’s impossible to compete, but you’d be wrong.


The big chains have a uniformity brought about by a strategy called McDonaldization, which can alienate many customers who think that they are boring and a little soulless. Customers are becoming more demanding; they want more than a cup of mediocre coffee. You can provide that if you make your café stand out from the crowd as a high-quality independent shop. Here’s how you can do it.


Have a great, artisan selection 

If somebody comes into your shop and is mad about coffee or tea, they would get a sense of awe if they felt they could try something they haven’t tried before. They would probably pay a premium for the privilege, too, whether you offer luxury coffee like civet coffee (luxurious as it has been processed by living Asian cats), or just a wide selection of coffee or tea to choose from. The Costa down the road won’t be able to offer that!


Don’t limit your selection to tea and coffee; try to stock locally made or unusual soft drinks or even frozen treats like pre-packaged ice-creams. Fridge Freezer Direct Ltd suggests using glass door display fridges or freezers to show them off to your customers and let them know what’s on offer while keeping them at the perfect cool temperature. Glass door fridges are especially useful if your artisan soft drinks have beautiful and attractive labels.


Focus on your Décor 

You have the great opportunity as an independent café owner to design décor that makes you really stand out from chain shops. You can fill your walls with vintage prints, quirky pictures or even plants to add individuality and create talking points and a feeling of homeliness for your customers. You can also have a bookshelf, which looks beautiful but also keeps customers in for longer if you stock it with addictive reads. You can also stand out from the high street with interesting tableware – different cups and saucers are a little overdone, but you could find a few interesting sets and mix and match. Your furniture can really set you aside as well, so spend some time looking for the comfiest furniture you can, which are very different from the extremely uncomfortable furniture available at most chains.


These two very simple differentiators are the perfect base to help you stand out from the high street. They provide a sturdy base on which you can develop your brand and help to get your café noticed. The flexibility is high – you can be an eco café and have a selection of ethically sourced teas and coffees with many plants included in your décor, as well as eco-friendly products like paper straws for takeaways. You should have a cafe that you’re proud of, and if you make it accommodating, warm and attractive for your customers, you’ll find they flock to you.


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