In addition to their thriving bricks and mortar retail locations, Dublin based coffee brand Third Floor Espresso (3FE) has been operating both an online retail store for consumers and a wholesale store for their B2B customers on LemonStand since 2016.
Their expansion into selling weekly, biweekly and monthly subscriptions for fresh roasted coffee delivered to their retail customers and enabling online ordering for their growing wholesale business meant that they outgrew their previous eCommerce platform. This prompted them to begin a search for a flexible new eCommerce platform that could enable both their traditional retail sales, and new business models like subscriptions and wholesale B2B ordering.
They found this flexibility in LemonStand and have been growing like gangbusters ever since. We talked to Garrett James, Operations Manager at 3fe, to learn more about how they’ve done it.
Introduce 3FE and tell us your story
“3fe was started in 2008 by our Managing Director, Colin Harmon, who left his job working as an investment banker in Dublin’s financial district to set up the business.
In the early days it was just Colin and an espresso machine in the foyer of a nightclub and the business grew cup by cup from there. 10 years later, 3FE now employs almost 50 people, operates a wholesale business and online retail store, coffee roastery, a training centre and three coffee shops. We are also the Irish distributor for a range of coffee machines and equipment.
We have an unwavering commitment to quality, while trying to have a sense of mischief and fun along the way. Being a hospitality company, the customer experience is the most important thing to us, our motto in our cafes is “Make good coffee, be nice to people and they’ll come back.”
We made a video about our story, which is included below.“
How are you growing your online sales? What marketing and growth strategies and/or tactics are working for you?
“We mostly rely on social media and newsletters. Without having employed a marketing person/agency we’ve built the success of the business on the reputation of the coffee shops, word of mouth, and social media.
With our recent expansion to international markets we have began using some targeted ads, but it is a new realm for us. We’ll see how it goes.”
How do you handle things like customer service, shipping, fulfillment, etc. Are there any tools you’re using that help??
“We have integrated live chat which has provided a real-time and more personal approach to our customer support. Alongside our own tools we have made use of the LemonStand API to automate all of our shipments. This has drastically reduced errors and sped up our fulfillment times.
Last year, we built a platform to manage and calculate the daily roasting schedule for our team. This was a huge undertaking but reduced our admin and processing time by about 30% while allowing us to scale. We imagined a system that would work in this way and the customization it required was one of the main factors in choosing LemonStand to build on.”
What is your overall impression of LemonStand?
“Fantastic! The ability to customize our store’s templates and design has allowed us to continually optimize and grow at a much faster pace than we might have otherwise. The LemonStand administration tools are also very intuitive and easy to use, which has meant that we are able to manage the sites ourselves.
Finally, the level of support we’ve received has been a huge peace-of-mind as we figure it all out. ”
What are some of your favorite features of LemonStand and why?
“We are probably a slightly unique case as we manage two LemonStand stores, one for our online retail store for consumers and another for our wholesale business. The core function of these are similar but how they need to operate for the user is vastly different. Being able to have separate shops on the same platform has made managing both much easier and allowed us to create links between the two when required.
For our online retail store for consumers, the subscription plans were the most required feature. We had offered a weekly/monthly subscription service in the past, but everything was handled by spreadsheet, with payment being made upfront. The automation and payment handling provided by LemonStand’s subscription features has been a game changer for us. In addition, customers being able to manage their own preferences and update their details has drastically reduced our admin.
For our wholesale business, often the person placing an order is a barista or manager who works in a busy environment, we wanted to provide a mobile experience that would be fast, simple and easily reproduced if placing a repeat order.
LemonStand’s built in B2B features for volume pricing has made applying bulk discounts very easy to manage and the customer groups have allowed us to segment customers by territory and size and tailor our pricing to different groups.
We’ve also found the reporting and cart conversion insights very helpful.”
Would you recommend LemonStand to others who need an eCommerce site? Why?
“Definitely. The rate at which features have been introduced since we switched to LemonStand is astonishing. Two years ago when we began taking our wholesale orders through our LemonStand powered wholesale website, we realised all of our sales are now made online. For us, this was a shift in mindset as we’d never really seen ourselves as an online business before.
With both online stores being such an integral part of our growth, it’s now essential that we work with a company equally committed to our success. LemonStand has been that for us.”
Interested in seeing more LemonStand powered website examples and customer stories? Check out our Customer Showcase!