There’s no secret South Africans love their coffee – with new stores popping up on a weekly basis across the country, both through independent and retail chains.
Two of the country’s biggest players in their respective industries are leading the pack in the explosion of coffee in SA, with Vida e Caffé and Shell announcing the opening of their 100th store in South Africa, in Dorp Street, Stellenbosch.
The Vida-Shell relationship started off in 2013, and after just two years the partnership has hit a significant marker, coming together to offer South African motorists a moment of sanity amidst the malaise of their daily commute.
Vida introduced a new brand within its stable, known as Torrador, specifically to work within the majority of Shell sites, together with Vida stores in selected large Shell forecourt environments.
With over 100 Vida e Caffé, and Torrador by Vida e Caffé, coffee bars at Shell service stations across the country, the pairing have seen a very positive consumer response with robust growth in coffee, food, convenience retail as well as fuel sales. Motorists are now becoming accustomed to getting their coffee fix at Shell whether in the Cape, Gauteng, KZN or at a Shell Ultra City somewhere in between.
After a great deal of research into convenience trends in the South African market, Shell identified the rapid emergence of the coffee culture in South Africa as a significant opportunity and key lever of its convenience retail strategy.
South Africa had been identified as a key growth market for the business and building on Shell’s 113-year heritage in the market, Shell invested in upgrading its store formats and non-fuels offers over the past few years.
After considering all potential partners both locally and globally, the Vida brand stood head and shoulders above competition given the critical role the brand has played in creating and establishing the coffee experience in South Africa.
To meet the varied trading environments within which Shell operates, the Torrador sub-brand was then established, ensuring that the Vida experience is readily available across the Shell network.
Mike Templeton imparts some useful insights from Vida’s expansion:
1. Meeting customer expectation
Identify the demand and plan the full solution accordingly. While any expansion plan may be all mapped out on paper, be sure to keep top of mind what it is the customer likes about your offering and what they’re expecting, and then give it to them. If you veer too far from that, your plans may not net the required result.
2. Build management teams
Select wisely and develop the people that will be rolling out and leading the realisation of your vision. All too often, those that are expected to perform are not in place. Identify and employ the right individuals and how to get there. Share the vision and the journey with them, train them, and ensure they have absorbed the entire concept and how to make it a reality.
3. Training and routine
It’s imperative that there has been ample investment in human resources to ensure the stores are operational and excellent at all times. Businesses are built on skilled and motivated people. Be sure to take it slow, pilot and test, fail, assess and re-design, then improve and roll-out.
4. Maintain day to day involvement
Keep a close and watchful eye on the brand, ensure compliance with standards and operational guidelines, as this will give you the best opportunity to stay true to brand delivery.
5. Keep it fresh
It’s all too easy to get a bit stale and complacent once you have launched. But as time progresses, it’s critical to stay motivated, seeing what the customer sees, and making the necessary amendments to exceed customer expectation. Continuous improvement and innovation is a key principle in good business.
6. Partner up
Leverage your partnerships, identify the strengths in each other’s skills and brands. Use one brand or offer to drive feet for the other which will increase your total basket.
7. Consistency long-term
Launching and building a business is the easy part – running the operation and keeping the quality and energy up is the challenge. Stay the course.
Vida e Caffé has had an impressive 12 months. Alongside the 100 Shell stores, they continued their development of new stores that opened in corporate and mall environments throughout Africa.
Explains Vida e Caffé CEO Darren Levy, “We spent the last year focusing equally on coffee, the in-store experience, and our food and beverage product innovation. October 2015 was our new food launch and this contributed significantly to some fantastic growth in the past few months. As an organisation we have placed a high level of importance to the sourcing and roasting of quality components that make up our coffee blend. To this end, we have been actively engaging importers, roasting experts and industry experts as we continue to evaluate the taste profile in line with international and local trends. Much of the success of a perfect in-cup experience is attributable to the methodology followed to make the flat white or meia in store. The coffee market is growing exponentially in SA and we have to do what is necessary to remain on top in a very competitive space. I think we’re well positioned to do that.”