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The Winter Guide to Seasonal Coffee Shop Success

The winter season is arguably the busiest time of year for coffee shops. As customers travel home to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, they’ll come to your shop to warm up, grab a drink and a bite to eat, and enjoy a conversation with those they love the most.

Adding to the influx of seasonal customers is the need to capitalize on holiday trends, execute timely shopping promotions, and streamline internal operations all at the same time. And don’t forget about preparing for the new year!
It’s no wonder many coffee businesses find the holidays to be challenging.
We’ve put together a guide to help you thoroughly prepare for the holiday season and drive sales well into the new year.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
  • How to plan for holiday shopping promotions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • The best way to create a seasonal coffee blend that excites customers and drive sales
  • How to prepare your staff for increased holiday traffic
By the end, you’ll be ready to tackle the holiday season with confidence.

Holiday Sales: Plan Early and Be Prepared

The winter months are synonymous with shopping. From Black Friday midnight “doorbuster” deals to significant online discounts on Cyber Monday, customers have grown accustomed to businesses running holiday shopping promotions.
If your local competition and the big brand shops are offering large holiday discounts, you may feel pressure to join them. But keep in mind: it’s not a requirement.
There’s no rule saying you have to offer a “Buy 1, Get 1” deal on drip coffees the day after Thanksgiving.
However, for coffee businesses that run an ecommerce shop, operate a roastery, or sell merchandise, seasonal shopping promotions can be a great way to drive sales online and in‑store.
Among the most common online promotions are:
  • A set percentage or dollar amount off every purchase
  • Buy one, get one 50% off
  • Free shipping
  • Complimentary gifts with every order
If you’re shipping coffee by mail, make sure to check out the holiday schedule of your carrier: USPS, UPS, FedEx.
Coffee shops can also run in‑store promotions to “caffeinate holiday shoppers.” Consider offering discounts to those who place an online pick‑up order on Black Friday. Or, run a free gift promotion for your loyalty program customers.
If you’re not comfortable discounting your products, there are tactics you can use to drive holiday revenue, too. Selling exclusive merchandise lines, rare coffees, and new seasonal menu items are all a great way to generate buzz throughout the season.
The trick to holiday promotions is to focus on creating value for your customers. It’s tempting to copy the sales and campaigns your competition is running, but these offers may not make sense for your business or customer needs.
Once you know what promotions you plan to run, it’s time to prepare!
Be sure to have all aspects of your sale ready in advance, including:
  • Printing in‑store signage
  • Updating the POS system
  • Sending email marketing newsletters
  • Crafting and scheduling social media posts
  • Training staff on promotion details
Take advantage of scheduling features on platforms like Shopify, Facebook, and Mailchimp to automate your holiday promotional efforts. It’ll be one less thing for you to worry about throughout the winter!

Roasting Holiday and Winter Blends

Holiday blends tend to sell exceptionally well during the winter months. Seasonal blends make great gifts for the coffee lover in every shopper’s life. These unique blends are especially beloved by customers who are brand‑loyal and who might find these coffees a better signal of their affection for your brand than single origins.
Source and blend coffees with notes that remind you of the holiday season, like:
Almond
Cherry
Ginger
Nutmeg
Milk Chocolate
Toffee
Cinnamon
Pine
Cedar
Of course, give yourself time to execute on these new blends. You’ll need a few weeks to source the coffee, fine‑tune your blends, and ensure delivery of holiday bags and labels.
⭐️ With a Bellwether roaster, there’s no need to spend precious time sourcing and dialing in new coffees, meaning you have more time on your hands to focus on other seasonal tasks. Our Green Coffee Marketplace has a wide variety of intriguing new green coffees—along with expertly crafted roast profiles—that’ll make the perfect addition to any holiday coffee menu.
This holiday season and all year long, your coffee focus should be on quality, not quantity.

Boost Sales with Holiday Fairs

People show up to holiday and craft fairs ready to buy, and they can be a great place to boost year‑end sales. These range from small get‑togethers in community centers and churches to massive events in civic centers and event halls—the bigger the show, the more you’ll have to pay for your spot.

Giving Back: An Opportunity to Reinvest in Your Community

The holidays are a great time to follow‑through on your mission if you have an element of community investment or giving back via donations to local charities that align with your values. It’s also a great way to involve your customers in a united goal that nurtures relationships, long‑term loyalty, and higher spend.
We’ve seen a handful of things work well:
  • In‑store coat / clothing donation drives
  • Limited‑edition drinks and retail bags that send a portion of revenue to charity
  • Partner fundraisers where mentioning a non‑profit gets a portion of revenue donated
  • Committing to serving Verified Living Income coffee beans
As always, communicate clearly about partnerships and how the give‑backs are distributed.

Cheers to Conquering the January Sales Slump

While it’s important to set goals and plan for the new year, you also need to think about how you’ll conquer the January sales slump.
Coffee shop customers notoriously disappear at the beginning of every year. (Don’t worry, they’ll return!)
As in‑store and online sales take a slight nosedive during this time, business owners need a strategy in place to recoup the decline in revenue.
Many coffee business owners explore tactics like:
  • Online sales promotions — Encourage customers to kick‑off the new year with freshly roasted coffee purchased online and delivered to their door. You can even run an extreme discount on old merchandise inventory if you have any items remaining after the holiday rush.
  • Loyalty programs — January is a wonderful time to launch an in‑store loyalty program or remind customers of an existing one. This encourages customers to come back again and again for delicious drinks, foods, and ultimately, rewards.
  • New coffee offerings — Whether you opt for a single origin coffee you’ve never offered before or a new blend, adding a new coffee to your lineup is a great way to draw attention to your business.
Others take a different approach and use January as a “reset” month. Some business owners even opt to close up shop for a week and give employees some much‑needed rest.
You can also use this time to spruce up the interior of your store or make any equipment repairs and upgrades leading into the new year.
When January arrives, don’t become dismayed over the small decline in sales. It happens to all of us! Instead, use the time to reset and recharge for the year ahead.

A Recap of the Winter Calendar

October
November
December
January
February
Plan Black Friday offers
Black Friday
Holiday / gift offers launch
Holiday blend last call
Plan Spring drinks / events
Plan holiday / gift offers
Holiday / gift fairs and events
Holiday / gift fairs and events
Online sales and promotions
Holiday blend release
Giveback drink / event launch
Loyalty program refresh
Schedule / hire for holiday hours
Holiday shopping last call
New year goal‑setting

New Year, New Growth Opportunities

Use January to map out your goals for the year, if you haven’t already.
New coffee shop goals can include:
Set specific and realistic goals for the best chance of success! And, making the switch to roasting in‑house will help you get there.
With a Bellwether Roaster, you’ll be roasting your own coffee in a matter of days, not months. Our electric roaster comes with pre‑programmed roast profiles, custom settings, and access to a marketplace of responsibly sourced coffees—everything you need to make next year your best year.
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