Social enterprise Old Spike Roastery explains why it has created a bespoke e-commerce solution

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

The Old Spike Roastery in Peckham.

As a social enterprise, Old Spike Roastery trains, employs and helps homeless people in the UK through roasting and supplying speciality coffee both at retail locations and wholesale accounts. The brand recently collaborated with Drum Network member Kolab Digital to revamp the Old Spike website with a new look and a new subscription and e-commerce solution.

The Drum Network recently spoke to Old Spike Roastery’s co-founder Richard Robinson to find out more about the brand’s online strategy.

Where did the original idea for Old Spike come from?

Old Spike was founded by myself and business partner (and longtime friend) Cemal. We were both working in the corporate world and had a real desire to start our own business that offered some real positive change to society.

What did you want to achieve with your online presence when you approached Kolab?

Our business has now been running for two years and at the start our online presence was a relatively poorly designed website, courtesy of my limited experience with Squarespace. Although it had all the basic information that we wanted to communicate to our audience, it lacked a really solid and reliable e-commerce solution for customers wishing to sign up to our online subscription where we deliver coffee straight to individuals home or office. This was very much at the core of the brief we gave Kolab was to make this service a much cleaner user experience and easier for us to manage on the back end when shipping out orders.

How did you find the development process?

We actually got in touch with Kolab to see if they would be interested in purchasing our coffee for their office. What was initially a speculative sales email from us, turned in to them suggesting working together to help develop and build our new website. The process from start to finish has been a really great experience and found the team at Kolab really helpful in guiding us through what was a completely new area for the company. Although we aren't quite finished with the development of the full site, the e-commerce side is up and running as this was the most important part for our business.

What improved functionality does the new site offer you and your customers?

One of the main features of the new site is the custom subscription builder, which allows users to choose what coffee they want to purchase and how often they want it delivered to their door. This has created a much more intuitive and streamlined user experience. Kolab also developed a user dashboard area, which customers can use to edit their coffee choice and they can even pause their subscription, giving them more freedom and flexibility.

Kolab also worked with our team to explore how they could improve the customer experience and looked at ways of reducing the admin workload. Originally, the team had to export their orders to a spreadsheet and handle the admin manually, which obviously took up a lot of their time. We’ve now automated this process and created a custom roasting schedule in the admin area of the website. This new area stores customer details, gives the team a weekly view of their orders and allows them to mark the process of each order. This new feature also gives us a better overview of stock levels, so we know how many coffee beans to order and roast.

The payment process on the old website was also fairly fragmented, as users had to input their bank details and create a direct debit for their subscriptions. We’ve integrated the payment gateway with Stripe, which now means debit and credit cards can be used across the site, making it easier to sign up. The website is, of course, optimised for mobile and is fully responsive across all platforms and devices.

What impacts has the new site had on the enterprise had to date?

The new site has really helped bring in more sales which will ultimately help the business employ more homeless people to roast, bag and deliver more of our speciality coffee. We are now looking at investing more in our digital marketing as we are much more confident that we have a site that not only beautifully designed but has the back-end capabilities to ensure that our production process is streamlined as possible.

Do you plan to open further branches?

Yes! Our current cafe is based in Peckham, South East London and we are moving our roasting functionality to a new site in Camberwell (just down the road) in April this year!

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