This fine cup of black coffee took exactly 25 minutes to be served to me this morning. Although the bitter warm taste of the coffee always balances the awkward start of a day, this morning was an unusual and upsetting long wait.
While I was sitting and waiting for my coffee, a Swiggy boy, a Zomato boy and another Swiggy boy had entered the coffee shop, picked up their order and left.
I started wondering inside my half-functional ‘morning’ head what is going on with our coffeeshop experiences today?
I stumbled on a series of thoughts around bad services and bad management in food business chains. This is no-one’s fault really, as most businesses are yet to be structured to address the disruption of digitalisation in everyday’s live.
But me being me, I put my designer’s hat on, and with no signs of my coffee yet, I went on a journey to understand this opportunity a little better.
Did you noticed that online food orders from coffeeshops and restaurants are now faster than walk-in services at their premises?
In India, online food delivery-only aggregators like Zomato, Swiggy and UberEats, are conquering the market and changing the way we experience our coffeeshops and restaurants. What comes after that I don’t yet know, I can imagine what that could be, but what is certain is that businesses and their staff are struggling with the overwhelming demand of online orders.
Nowadays we see entrances of restaurants and coffeeshops invaded by young boys on small motorbikes wearing branded t-shirts, walking on edge to be on-time, cashing that extra money if they deliver the order before schedule.
Who is also on edge is the business. These App aggregators do not forgive or forget, they are equipped with star rankings, reviews, offers, promotions, you name it. Your business better be fast delivering to these boys and have better offers then other places, if you want to stay in-business.
Businesses are now more focus on delivering their online orders than serving their customers at the premises, creating the wrong dynamic that will eventually harm the business profoundly.
This could all be resolved if we did a detailed service design study on the business and the way it is managed. Re-thinking their operations and staffing plans would be a start. Unfortunately, most of these businesses have little knowledge of planning for a digital driven economy and fail to address not only their customer needs but also their staff needs, who are overworked and unhappy.
While witnessing these broken journeys, right there in-front of me, the most surprising thing happened. One of the delivery boys walked out of the coffeeshop with a small takeaway cup.
Wait a minute did I just saw that?
At this moment I wasn’t concerned about my coffee anymore, I know that eventually I would get it, I was not going anywhere, taken by my chain of thoughts, that drove me into a completely different corner of the story….
Do people really order takeaway coffee only and nothing else? One takeaway coffee at the time?
I was astonished, that never crossed my brain. I had a very clear idea why I would ever do that…
1- Delivery charges for a small cup of coffee are a third of the price on the top of total price of the order. Is this worth it?
2- Wouldn’t you order something more? To compensate the delivery charges but also the fact that you are polluting the environment and increasing traffic in an already crowded city, for only a small cup of coffee?
3- If the person has no physical impairment wouldn’t she rather walk down to the nearest coffeeshop and get a nice cup of coffee? Are we becoming so absorbed in our work-home routine, that a 10 minutes walkout to a coffeeshop feels like impossible?
As designers we gone need to re-invent these experiences and better understand the connections between - space - human - digital - to help business like coffeeshops to change and to thrive, in times of very different consumers and very different delivery systems.
The hot black coffee eventually came, after I stared for sometime, at the staff boy, with desperate eyes.