UAE-based RAW recently announced that it would be extending its GCC operations, as online sales over the last 12 months have increased by 70% and year-on-year revenue by just under 25%.
The company went from having to shut down businesses completely during the lockdown to making excessive profits in the past year, as a result of planning ahead and diversifying its business proposition.
“Our core business is roasting and selling coffee. What we had to was, find the customer, who is now sitting at home. To reach our end drinker, we got on the radio, we spent more money on Instagram (I was doing little videos every day). And then we started to make sure that they knew that we could support them at home,” he said.
Now that the objective was clear, RAW underwent a whole strategy shift to reach its customers at their homes. From enhancing their website, to ramping up deliveries, all of the staff was trained to take on new roles to meet the new demands.
“We went from an average of about 60 deliveries a day to over 400. We had our team doing deliveries for as long as we possibly could. Every person who could drive a car was doing deliveries.”
However, what’s challenging for a coffee shop is to replicate the experience (ambience) and expertise (of the trained baristas). While not much could be done about the former given the regulations, RAW stepped up efforts to make sure that they could meet the customers half-way when it came to the skill of coffee-making.
“What we realised was that once the customer had the bag of coffee, they needed the support. Now they had a bag of coffee and hopefully a kettle, but had to figure out how to make it work. So we sold out every piece of equipment we ever had. All of a sudden, everybody wanted an espresso machine at home,” he said noting that selling equipment started contributing to their revenue.
“So we were getting hundreds of machines every month and selling them. Then we had to make sure that the customer could do training and we set up barista training via zoom. We ended up charging the customers for 30-minute blocks and we are still booking those classes for customers from Saudi, Kuwait and Bahrain and that become another division of the company,” he added.
RAW went from just selling coffee before the pandemic to taking on full-fledged deliveries, selling equipment, as well as conducting masterclasses and diversifying its portfolio as a result, turning the crisis into an opportunity and having had “one of their best years in business”.