Australians have fallen in love with the smartphone, and it’s a trend that small businesses should seriously begin to prepare for. Boutique Perth café Mooba allows customers to order via a smartphone app and SMS and has seen coffee sales soar.
Recent research by Telsyte shows that the number of smartphone users in Australia will reach 12.2 million in 2012. In another survey by IPSOS Research for Google, Australians were found to have the second highest smartphone usage by population density in the world. Importantly, 49% were using smartphones such as iPhone or Android devices to research and then make purchases, with the most common items being entertainment, clothing, cosmetics and electronics.
Boutique Perth café Mooba is one of the pioneers in this field, with owner Mark Dillon saying sales from SMS orders and smartphone applications now make up around 30% of total coffee sales.
“We’ve been doing SMS orders for the past five and a half years we’ve been operating, and we were the first to do so in Western Australia. We brought it in because we were getting so busy and our local clientele wanted to save time by texting their orders in,” he said.
“We do around 300 SMS orders a day for coffee, so it was a natural progression with our entry into social media to develop a smartphone app. The benefit of it compared with SMS orders is that you get notified how long your coffee will be, with a countdown on your smartphone or PC - coffee isn’t a product where you want to keep people waiting. This is especially important for business customers near our Subiaco café, who want to save time on coffee breaks and still get a good coffee.”
With its own website blog, Facebook and Twitter pages as well as the smartphone app, Mooba is active on social media. Yet Dillon says it’s not as time intensive as some business owners might fear.
“I spend about 30 to 45 minutes a day on social media, with both myself and the café manager having iPhones with Twitter, as well as staff iPads and a Mac behind the counter. I manage it, but the kitchen staff can also make comments or respond to questions,” he said.
According to Dillon, social media has given his café invaluable feedback as well as helping promote his café to thousands of potential customers in the ‘Twitterverse’.
“I obviously don’t want negative comments, but it’s much better to get them delivered in person or via Twitter or Facebook, rather than someone just going and complaining to all their friends without you knowing,” he said.
“In one instance, a customer made a complaint on Twitter about receiving takeaway burnt banana bread from our café. We saw the comment and within about three minutes had delivered the customer freshly toasted banana bread, with a free coffee and an apology to their office.”
“We didn’t write anything about it, but the customer wrote on Twitter that this was ‘social media at its best’. For the next three or four days, we trended in Perth. This is the benefit of Twitter – when people voice an opinion you can respond to them, and everyone can see that you’re responding.”
Yet despite having a potential database of thousands of SMS orders as well as Twitter and Facebook followers, Dillon said he has never used social media for overt marketing purposes.
“The best marketing I can do is to give everyone a really good coffee every time, and don’t hound them with things, as I don’t think people like it.”
Anthony is a communication consultant at BWH Communication and a freelance writer with 15 years' experience in the stockbroking and media industries of Australia and Asia. He is a regular writer on business and other issues for publications in Australia and Japan. He consults on communication strategy to businesses ranging from private enterprises to professional service firms and publicly listed companies, with a particular interest in entrepreneurship in all its forms.