How can specialty coffee roasters reduce their delivery costs?

Janice Kanniah
July 7, 2021
delivery cost coffee

Roasters in importing countries roast around 75% of the coffee brought in from producing countries, with the rest roasted at origin or sold as green coffee. Once roasted, coffee must be packaged and sold quickly to preserve freshness.

With the Covid-19 pandemic an ongoing reality around the world, customers are increasingly ordering coffee for delivery directly to their doorstep, instead of purchasing it at the roaster or in stores.

Managing these shipping and transportation costs can be challenging. If you aren’t familiar with the costs involved, they can quickly add up, cutting into your profits and forcing you to increase your prices.

The good news is that specialty roasters can trim their shipping costs without compromising on their coffee quality or reputation. Find out how this can be done and the role packaging plays in the process.

delivery of coffee cost
Specialty roasters can cut down their shipping costs with a few simple steps

How subscription services help roasters meet demand

Social distancing measures have prevented roasters from selling coffee face-to-face in the same volumes as before. Many roasters now offer coffee subscriptions, allowing customers to buy coffee without leaving their home.

It’s a trend that’s unlikely to disappear, even as the Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues and retail behaviour returns to normal.

Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows that 90% of subscription services have grown or plateaued since the pandemic started, as many people continue to work from home and avoid public places like cafés and stores.

90% of subscription services have grown or plateaued since the pandemic started.”

Some experts say that subscription services work for regularly purchased household staples like coffee, and that when consumers order products this way, they tend to stick to familiar brands.

Despite the benefits of subscription services however, the potential costs can be high. Jeff Sward, Founding Partner of retail consultancy Merchandising Metrics, writes in a comment for RetailWire that while subscription services for coffee make sense, they tend to walk a precarious line between profitability and handling costs.

Suddenly, you might find yourself shipping more orders than ever, and each bag, pouch, or carton that you use adds to your overall expenses. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate these costs.

roasted coffee
The popularity of coffee subscriptions have soared since the start of the pandemic

Reducing your coffee subscription transport costs 

Careful planning, budgeting, and market research are instrumental in creating a coffee subscription service that works. It’s also about saving money where you can, and that’s where the right type of packaging comes in.

Offer a variety of packaging sizes 

Most customers who sign up for coffee subscription services will have some coffee knowledge, so they probably won’t buy in bulk. Even with quality packaging, however, roasted coffee won’t last forever. 

Offering customers a variety of sizes for their needs will keep them coming back for more. It also helps those who aren’t frequent drinkers to purchase the right amount of coffee at a time.

For example, UK coffee delivery service Pact Coffee has an online calculator that recommends a packaging size based on how much coffee the customer drinks per day, as well as how many drinkers there are per household.

Ensuring customers don’t run out early or end up with stale coffee can encourage them to come back for more. And, if you let them automatically top up their coffee on a certain date, they’ll always have what they need.

Offer discounts on returned packaging

You can reduce the volume of packaging you require by getting return customers to bring their used packaging back. This is important, as even one order per customer per month can result in plenty of waste.

You can also incentivise recycling. For example, customers who return an empty coffee pouch (provided it’s in good shape and is resealable) can enjoy a single refill at a small discount, giving the packaging more uses before it’s sent to the landfill or compost heap.

sustainable packaging materials
Offering discounts on returned packaging is a great way of reducing waste

Know when to automate the process 

Few roasters (except very large ones) have staff members dedicated to packaging coffee. You might be doing this right now if demand is small – but how long will it stay that way? If demand increases, having employees spend hours packaging coffee could keep them from other tasks and slow down the production line.

Packaging machines can speed up the process without damaging your product, but they’re expensive. You don’t need machinery if you choose to partner with a full-service coffee packager. It might be more practical and affordable for your business to outsource the entire process.

Make your packaging go viral

According to HubSpot, a leading marketing software firm, over half of all social media users use their social media platforms to research potential purchases. It’s not just influencer marketing, either. Most people still prefer recommendations from friends and family.

Selling a quality coffee product will get customers’ attention, but what your product packaging looks like is just as important. A unique or eye-catching pouch is more likely to be shared on social media platforms than images of the actual coffee beans. 

As a third-wave establishment, you are probably well aware of the importance of aesthetics, so it’s only natural that your design language extends to your packaging, too.

Unique and eye-catching coffee packaging is far more likely to be shared on social media

There are many creative ways you can cut your coffee’s shipping and transportation costs. It can be as easy as starting with the right type of packaging, or simply making small changes to your usual packaging processes.

MTPak Coffee can assist you with everything from designing an attractive coffee pouch to automating the coffee pouch filling process. Contact us today for more advice on how packaging can reduce your shipping costs.

For more information on MTPak Coffee’s sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team.

Janice Kanniah
Janice Kanniah

Janice is freelance writer based in South Africa and has written for MTPak Coffee since 2020. Her interests are in writing about sustainability, the circular economy, and the future of the environment.

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