June 24, 2021

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How a Simple POS Switch Resolved Tico Coffee Roasters’ Inventory Problems and Brought Convenience To Its Bay Area Customers

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Very few mornings in San Francisco start without a daily dose of coffee or tea. To meet that local demand, Tico Coffee Roasters built a coffee roasting presence with a roastery/coffee bar in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beyond the café, Bay Area businesses like Netflix, Facebook, and local supermarkets rely on Tico for their morning jolt.

With so much coffee and tea flowing every day, Tico Coffee Roasters has a lot of inventory moving, both in person and online. Its coffee attracted enough customers that its problem soon became inventory management. After a switch to Shopify POS, Tico has seen:

  • Fewer “out of stock” messages online, thanks to seamless integration between POS and inventory management
  • Hours of manual inventory syncing saved every week, including one hour a day for one co-founder
  • Implementation of local delivery and pick-up options, especially beneficial to customers driving the tricky San Francisco streets

The challenge

Tico Coffee Roasters had two sides to its customer-facing presence. First, a more traditional café that lets people come in and buy a cup of coffee. But that wasn’t enough for San Francisco. Outside, Tico Coffee also parked a coffee trailer for customers who wanted their Tico fix by the bag.

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The coffee trailer was convenient for those die-hard customers looking for Tico coffee or tea in bulk. But while it was easy for customers, it had the negative side effect of creating inventory management problems. Since Tico was using two separate payment systems for its online and in-person orders, it frequently took orders online it was unable to fulfill in person. 

Even worse, there was no system in place for recording inventory from the coffee trailer and applying these changes to its website. The only way to keep things consistent between in-person and online inventory was a tedious manual reconciliation process.

Every night, I had to manually update inventory—whatever was going out on Square—and then update that on Shopify with our online store. And [I] was just like, I can’t do this anymore.

Thomas Goepel, Co-Founder and Head of Roasting and Quality

Tico needed a unified payment and inventory system. At the time, Tico was using Square’s point of sale for its pop-up locations, as well as its permanent retail location. Looking to keep customers happy, staff often would grab coffee from the retail location to fulfill in-person orders. But these backend issues created an unnecessary trade-off: being unable to meet online orders.

Too often, online customers faced an “out of stock” message that was completely preventable. Frustrated with a slow and cumbersome process, Tico’s Co-Founder Thomas Goepel set out to find a better solution.

The solution

One thing was clear: Goepel couldn’t rely on multiple payment systems to fulfill orders with his sanity intact. He started looking at Shopify POS. Tico Coffee already knew Shopify after its experience handling incoming orders from its online store. Using Shopify’s POS for inventory on the ground had the potential to remove hours of manual work every week.

Tico made the switch. But soon it discovered that Shopify POS meant more than smoother inventory management. It also unlocked new features like local pickup—features that fit new social distancing guidelines but that may also prove valuable even after the pandemic. 

To deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tico Coffee Roasters used its newfound inventory capabilities to handle the demands of this local pickup offering. Prior to the pandemic, Goepel says, Tico would handle drive-up orders as each customer pulled in. But in introducing the new POS/inventory capabilities, it was able to assemble a call-ahead option that ended up being a game-changer for busy customers.

Another thing that we weren’t able to do with Square was local pickup. We can do everything from Shopify POS. We don’t have to have someone use a separate computer to print a pickup slip—employees just see the orders coming in, prepare it, and put the receipt on the order.

Thomas Goepel, Co-Founder and Head of Roasting and Quality

Implementing Shopify POS also proved easier on the baristas. Tico Coffee had been training employees to manage two different systems. They sometimes even had to resort to creating “dummy” accounts just to get the two systems to reconcile. Now, Tico and its employees were using one system for everything, which also prevented headaches among their baristas.

The results

Initially, Tico Coffee was setting out to resolve an inventory problem. But even customers have noticed the differences made possible in the unified system. The out-of-stock notifications online have subsided. More importantly, customers have noticed the improved service.

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Many customers also reported that they loved the convenience of placing an online order and having their coffee ready when they drive in. With Shopify POS in place, customers can even designate an exact time for their drive-up, even if it happens to be later in the day. According to Goepel, customers’ eyes brightened when they learned they could complete their drive-up purchase with just a tap.

Other customers enjoy the convenience of local delivery, especially when it means having their coffee delivered within a few hours of order placement. This is especially important in San Francisco, a notoriously tricky place to find parking.

For many customers at Tico, the delivery charge is well worth it.

The expectation set by companies like Amazon is that if you order something, you’ll get it the next day. Our customers don’t want to wait three days to have their coffee delivered. With our inventory synced across our online and in-person shop, when our customers order something, we have it—and that means we can get it to them quickly.

Thomas Goepel, Co-Founder and Head of Roasting and Quality

After changing to Shopify POS, Tico hasn’t looked back. Goepel says he now saves an hour every day compared to the old system of inventory management. “That’s my time,” he says with a laugh, “which I think is valuable.”

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