Coffee shop atmosphere: How it can affect sales

Janice Kanniah
August 30, 2023
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The key to increasing coffee sales is for the brand to get plenty of attention. While this can be relatively simple for online platforms, it also means roasters and coffee shop owners should place a strong focus on brick-and-mortar establishments. 

As consumer preferences evolve, coffee shop owners may need to adapt their space to make it as appealing as possible while continuing to drive sales. Offering quality specialty coffee and building a menu around it will impact not only your customer experience but also the atmosphere of the coffee shop. 

According to a recent survey, almost 50% of UK customers prefer in-store coffee consumption over takeaway. That said, the survey also notes that several atmospheric factors will help shape this experience.

To learn more about how coffee shops can create an inviting atmosphere for customers and boost sales, I spoke with Matteo D’Ottavio, a coffee professional and consultant from Italy.

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What factors contribute to coffee shop atmosphere?

First and foremost, when it comes to coffee shop atmosphere, Matteo says “Everything matters. From lights and sound, to smell, touch, and of course, taste.” 

He explains that we live in a multisensory world and must take care of all the human senses. “Attention to detail is important, and everything in the coffee shop needs to increase comfort for both customers and employees. All these things combined can provide an amazing experience to customers.”

A recent survey from BRITA Professional confirms this. When asked which factors consumers would include when designing a creative space, the top five elements mentioned were reliable WiFi, windows, comfortable windows, plants, and easy-to-reach plug sockets. These elements often make consumers view coffee shops as sanctuaries away from home.

Furthermore, research into multisensory stimuli suggests sensory perception should form part of any retailer’s marketing strategy. This is because it can drastically influence consumer emotions, decision-making, and purchasing behaviour.

When the human brain is presented with multiple sensory events, it is often viewed as a whole that is greater than its individual parts. Businesses that get it wrong risk creating an uncomfortable or even irritating experience for customers. It can also lead to brand incongruence where one aspect of the brand doesn’t harmonise with others.

Essentially, improving the atmosphere in a coffee shop can boost its bottom line. A 2018 independent global study analysing the impact of sensory perceptions on customer experiences compared identical retail environments.

One featured music, signage, and scent, while the other had none of these elements. The environment that engaged the senses experienced 10% more sales, with customers lingering six minutes longer and purchasing several high-priced items. 

Customers visiting the store without sensory engagements reported feeling ‘awkwardly aware of their own presence’ and felt ‘less comfortable taking their time to explore the store’.

Matteo reinforces the importance of a welcoming atmosphere, adding that it’s “something you can’t get at home. You can have the ritual of making your coffee at home, but for a great experience, you have to go to a coffee shop.”

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Atmospheric factors coffee shops can focus on

It can be fairly easy to identify and improve individual sensory elements that impact store atmosphere. Notably, many branding, interior design, and decor guides exist that can help brands do this.

To create a draw that pulls foot traffic into a coffee shop, owners should pay attention to the store’s exterior and entrance. “This is the first thing consumers notice, so an effective design will help attract customers,” explains Matteo, who is also the UK Brewers Cup 2020 Champion.

Studies show over 95% of consumers judge a store’s exterior appearance before entering. Therefore, coffee shop owners should ensure the store name is easily identifiable and the area around the entrance is clean and inviting.

Additionally, signs and window displays should always be up-to-date and exterior lighting should be checked regularly. While elements such as paint colour and gutter maintenance may not seem important, if left unattended, this could limit the coffee shop’s visual appeal, no matter how inviting it is on the inside. 

Another often-forgotten element contributing to the atmosphere in a coffee shop is staff. “Well-trained, friendly staff welcome customers, make them feel welcome, and provide them with great coffee,” Matteo says. “Friendly staff form part of the atmosphere and they’re one of the main reasons customers return.” 

More so, studies show that staff who are invested in maintaining an inviting coffee shop atmosphere will often go beyond the minimum requirements. In short, a coffee shop needs to provide a superior customer service experience compared to that received when customers order online.

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How the layout of a coffee shop adds to its atmosphere

The last consideration is the layout of the coffee shop. It is important that business owners maximise the space so the shop does not appear chaotic or disorganised/

This is critical as research shows elements such as empty or broken shelves and disorganised inventory can cause almost 65% of customers to leave without buying anything.

An effective inventory management system can prevent this, as can ensuring product packaging and merchandise are visually appealing and easy to display. Dozens of different store and product layout patterns exist that coffee shop owners can use depending on the floor plan and available space.

For example, a free-flow layout is highly effective for small coffee shops wanting to display less merchandise. This also ensures there’s enough space for customers to browse products without bumping into each other. 

Creating a store atmosphere that generates sales can be hard to quantify and is unlikely to happen overnight. Working on individual elements can help coffee shop owners continually work towards creating a more appealing space. Product packaging can also form part of this, so brands should not underestimate the power of an eye-catching design. 

At MTPak Coffee, we understand the important role coffee packaging plays in today’s market. As such, we offer a range of sustainable options that can be customised to include as much information as you require and showcase your unique brand.

Our range of coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials. Our line of coffee boxes is made using recycled cardboard, while our sustainable coffee bags are made from kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging. They also feature an environmentally friendly PLA lining.

More so, both our sustainable coffee bags and coffee mailer boxes can be fully customised to reflect your brand details about your coffee offerings. Our talented design team is ready to work with you in order to make coffee packaging unique to your brand.

For more information on coffee packaging that adds to the atmosphere of your business, contact our team.

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