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Why Sell a Coffee Subscription? The Benefits of a Coffee Club Membership.

Written by
Team BlueCart

There are three statistics that prove a coffee bean subscription or coffee club membership is a huge opportunity for coffee retailers, coffee roasters, and coffee suppliers.

  1. 64% of adults in the U.S. drink coffee every day
  2. The average American drinks 3.1 cups of coffee per day
  3. 79% of people in this country prepare coffee at home

These numbers aren’t about absolute volume. They’re about frequency. Drinking coffee is not a rare event. Coffee is, without a doubt, a part of the vast majority’s daily routine. Buying coffee is not a one-time purchase. Far from it. Buying coffee is a transaction the U.S. public does constantly and repeatedly.

That opens up an opportunity for coffee businesses to make folks’ lives easier and put those transactions on autopilot. And, as we wrote about previously, a coffee subscription service is an opportunity that’s perfectly suited to today’s consumer behavior and expectations. It delivers the quality and variety that third-wave coffee lovers want, and it’s a seamless experience that lives wholly online.

For coffee businesses that already have quality coffee beans on hand, it’s an easy decision to make. Learn how to start a coffee subscription business and integrate mail order coffee into your business strategy. To drive the point home, here are a few of the most stark and convincing reasons to do it.

Recurring Revenue

The best part about the subscription model in ecommerce is that it goes beyond single sales, or the one-time sales that characterize non-recurring transactions. By offering a coffee club membership or coffee bean subscription, you’re locking down repeated revenue. That’s revenue that you can accurately forecast—based on growth and churn—and depend on. Even if your subscription requires no contract and customers can cancel at any time, they often won’t. There’s less churn than you’d expect in subscription-based ecommerce models—especially if you’re delivering the goods on time and as expected.

Sales leaders and investor groups routinely prioritize monthly recurring revenue, or MRR, when they assess the health and future of companies, organizations, and teams. That’s because a solid or growing MRR means money in the bank and the ability to forecast sales and create accurate budgets. Both crucial to the success and growth of any business.

If your company isn’t working toward increasing its MRR, you’re at a disadvantage. Thankfully, as members of the professional coffee community, you’ve got the perfect opportunity, mail order coffee, staring you right in the face.

Minimal Overhead

Your company—whether a coffee shop, specialty coffee retailer, a coffee roaster, or a coffee wholesaler—has no problem acquiring quality coffee. That’s why you're in business. You’ve spent your career building the relationships and processes that keep your coffee machines, shelves, and warehouses full of top-notch coffee beans.

That means the only things you have left to acquire to start a coffee bean subscription or a coffee club membership are a reliable ecommerce platform and packaging and shipping. In the grand scheme of starting a business or developing a new revenue stream, these are small potatoes. An ecommerce platform can cost less than $100 per month, and packaging and shipping is around 10–20% of the cost of goods sold (COGS).

Overall, the net-new MRR you’ll be creating out of nothing will quickly make the expenses you incurred a moot point.

Perfect Timing

There is an ideal confluence of factors for this business model right now: consumer buying behavior, coffee consumption habits, and coffee drinker expectations. All three uniquely position coffee bean subscriptions for success. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Consumer Buying Behavior

Over 70% of people in the U.S. shop online. That’s over 230 million people in this country alone. When you consider the approximately two billion people worldwide that shop online, the reach of ecommerce is so large it’s almost inconceivable.

Coffee Consumption Habits

We mentioned these statistics at the outset of this post, but they bear repeating. Because they form the crux of the narrative that makes a coffee club subscription make sense.

64% of adults in the U.S. drink coffee every day. The average American drinks 3.1 cups of coffee per day. 79% of people in this country prepare coffee at home.

When you consider these along with the previous numbers about online purchasing, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that mail order coffee is lucrative.

Coffee Drinker Expectations

About 20 years ago, the third wave of coffee ushered in a new coffee consciousness. All of today’s best coffee roasters embody the principles of the third wave: sustainable business practices, a commitment to quality, and a dedication to coffee as an artisanal commodity. Every popular coffee roaster fits into this paradigm because there’s a ton of demand for their products. While early artisanal roasteries are credited with popularizing this approach to coffee, the switch has flipped. Now the public sets the tone and businesses deliver. People want this kind of coffee, and they’ll pay a premium for it.

This expectation of quality and variety is perfectly suited to a coffee bean subscription service that offers a rotating selection of expertly-sourced and masterfully-roasted coffee.

Engagement and Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Engaging in the ongoing experience of recurring payment and delivery presents companies with a unique opportunity. They have a string of repeating interactions they can use to prove their value. And once they do that, rest assured, the customers won over will spread the word.

Engagement

The customer experience for any business is a series of touchpoints, or interactions the customer has with the company and its products or services. The more touchpoints you have, within reason, the more opportunities you have to make a connection with your customer.

Here are some touchpoints for a typical consumer coffee subscription service:

Visiting your website. Visiting your mail order coffee landing page. Choosing and purchasing a coffee bean subscription plan. Getting a confirmation email. Receiving their highly-anticipated (and beautifully designed) coffee box in the mail. Unboxing it with great joy to reveal the artfully-arranged surprises inside. Receiving an email to rate their satisfaction. Hopping online to modify their order because they went back to your website to check out a new roast that was mentioned in their confirmation email.

Don’t look at each of these as links in some inevitable chain of chores that must be overcome to get a sale. See each one as a rare opportunity to strengthen your customer’s emotional and psychological connection to your coffee and your brand. The chance to get in front of a customer and prove their value is what companies pray for. With a subscription service, those touchpoints—those opportunities—are built right into the business model. Take full advantage.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Now imagine you have hundreds or thousands of people engaged in a perpetual series of delightful and memorable touchpoints with your business. They’re going to talk about you. They’re going to go to your website during holidays and birthdays to buy a coffee subscription gift for their friends and family members.

Word-of-mouth marketing is a slow burn, but it’s widely considered to be the most reliable, most lucrative form of marketing. What makes it elusive is that you, as a business, can’t do it yourself. What you can do is everything possible to make your company, and interacting with your company, worth talking about. Or worth sharing an unboxing video on social media. That’s all you can control. That’s why knocking your touchpoint marketing out of the park is so important. Every great experience you deliver creates a genuine advocate for your brand and your products.

Product Discoverability

The fact that there are more customer touchpoints involved with signing up for and maintaining a monthly subscription means more chances to nurture ongoing customer relationships. And that means that they’ll give you more of their attention and actually listen to some of the things you say.

If a customer is familiar with your website (because you’ve made it ridiculously easy to browse their stock, learn about their products, and transact), then they’ll be more willing and able to explore your catalog. Navigating it won’t feel confusing or unfamiliar; it’ll feel like they’re comfortably walking around their own personal coffee shop.

And, along with this, they’ll be tuned into what your company or brand is saying. Got a new single-origin roast from the Philippines? They’re all ears. Wanna share something interesting about a grower or community you partner with? Go on.

You’ve proven, with your seamless coffee subscription experience, that interacting with your company is a breeze. So they’re happy to keep doing it.

Give the People What They Want

What they want is coffee. High-quality coffee produced by people who are conscious of the value and uniqueness of the resources—both human and agricultural—that make up this beverage we all adore. And because they’ve learned so much about coffee-producing regions, roasting methods, and flavor profiles, they’d also like to put that knowledge to work. That means trying different kinds of coffee. Oh, they’d also like a consistent supply of it because they drink multiple cups a day. Got it?

Well, no problem. Setting up a mail order coffee subscription option checks off every single box. And, thankfully, you’ve got 90% of the stuff you need to get this stream of revenue up and running. All that’s left is a coffee ecommerce platform, like BlueCart, to make transactions and product discovery as easy as possible and some gorgeous packaging to make the delivery touchpoint memorable. Then it’s off to the races.

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