How Penang Best Coffee Is Bringing Its Business Online

Anyone who runs a F&B business knows how challenging the industry can be, especially when it comes to keeping up with the shift towards Ecommerce.

From graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and English Literature, to now working on a coffee store in Penang, Adrian Chin shares his story on PBC Coffee and how it is moving towards an online model. PBC Coffee is a specialty store based in George Town, Penang, that sells one-of-a-kind coffee beans by weight and brewing equipment.

Answers have been slightly edited for clarity.

owner of Penang Best Coffee posing with a StoreHub representative

What made you get into this business?

We didn’t exactly get into the business per se. A year ago, one of our distributors called up to say that she wanted to open a specialty shop that sells premium white coffee, roasted coffee beans and brewing accessories. She built the business and we provided her with the products and specialty roasted coffee from all over the world. My role is in product development, and I also introduce more specialty coffee beans through PBC. We now have a variety of 12 to 14 type of coffee beans at our stores.

How was the company founded?

PBC Coffee was started by my boss’s friend, Pauline. She didn’t have enough capital, so my boss decided to work with her on the business. She came up with a game plan to target home consumers and small offices in town. That was something very new to us, and it was a compelling pull.

I thought that it’d be an interesting opportunity to work with my existing distributors to see how consumers at home would react to the chance to brew good coffee at home or at work. It’s definitely been a great journey so far.

Coffee being prepared

What sets you apart from other cafes selling coffee?

PBC is not a café per se, because it’s a retail shop that sells coffee products and brewing accessories. The café part of the business is basically a DIY table that allows customers to grind some coffee beans and brew themselves a good mug of coffee for RM2.00 or RM5.00. This concept is to remove the fear that it’s difficult to make a good cup of coffee. All you need is some practise with hand brewing accessories.

We did a survey and found a niche within a price category that is not exactly being serviced by companies distributing coffee products. While there are shops that sell coffee and accessories, they’re generally not specialists; and over at PBC, the selling point is that all our coffee is freshly roasted and is rotated every 4 months to ensure freshness for the customers.

PBC is interesting in the sense that it only sells coffee products we manufacture, hence it is easier to introduce new products and to work with the owner to build up a menu of products that appeals to more customers from her feedback. It’s an interesting business model.

What are your future plans for PBC Coffee?

We plan on expanding to about 5 or 6 stores, and then to explore expansion via a franchised method. StoreHub will definitely be used for operations, as it’s a robust and very user-friendly POS system that gives us the backend information we need. StoreHub is the heart of the operations, if you need to define the role of StoreHub.

We’re glad to have you on StoreHub’s Ecommerce platform! What made you decide to bring your business online?     

 The world is headed in this direction these days. You either have to embrace it and learn the skills to get something up and going, or you risk getting left behind. Shipping rates are also coming down, making shipping and handling become a very small component of the retail price of the item. In mature markets like China, it’s possible to send items from one end of the country to another for about RM2.00 to RM5.00 for overnight delivery.

Ecommerce is dominating in many developed markets and it’s also growing steadily in Malaysia. We have a shop running on Lazada, and while sales aren’t exactly strong, sales are growing every month – partly from returning customers, and through word-of-mouth.

I find that advertising on Facebook helps for our products. Hence, I was excited that StoreHub is investing in this direction too. 

Screenshot of Penang Best Coffee online shop

Which StoreHub POS system feature do you use the most and how has StoreHub helped your business?

For my operational use, the main features I use and that’ve become an important part of my work are:

  1. Today’s Transactions
  2. Today’s Cumulative Sales (vs Last Month)
  3. Reports –> Products –> Best Selling
  4. Reports –> Sales –> Daily Sales

These features give me an up-to-date snapshot of how product moves in PBC and it helps with my production scheduling over are the factory, so that I can allocate restock for PBC. I basically concentrate on product movement and StoreHub is a powerful and easy-to-use system that gives me this data in a few clicks. I’m also exploring how StoreHub can be used in manufacturing systems as well.

There is a pretty good selection of POS systems available in Malaysia, and having tried a few on trial offer, I have to comment that the features available in StoreHub are adequate. It’s easy to operate for the store clerk, and it’s really “complete” right out of the box. And if you need to expand the data, just export it all out into a spreadsheet, and you can build more management charts outside. A lot can be done with 3 clicks within the StoreHub backend.

To find out more about PBC Coffee, click HERE 

Store locations:

PBC @ 1st Avenue Mall, Penang

Lot 4-22, 1st Avenue Mall

182 Magazine Road, 10300 Penang

 

PBC @ Island Plaza, Penang

Lot G8 B&C Island Plaza

118 Jalan Tanjung Tokong

10470 Penang

Penang Best Coffeee customer pouring coffee