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Schaerer on custom made coffee machines

From the November 2019 issue.

Schaerer is emphasising its flexibility and ability to customise equipment to fit the needs of its customers across the globe.

In a market as diverse as coffee, consumers in countries around the world have developed different tastes, preferences, and expectations of the coffee they order from a particular venue. Understanding that two outlets won’t share the same requirements of a coffee machine, Swiss professional coffee machine manufacturer Schaerer has ramped up its ability to customise equipment to suit the needs of its customers.

Schaerer CEO Jörg Schwartze tells Global Coffee Report the new focus highlights a service the company has always offered and knows it can do well.

“Customer focus and customisation have always been in the DNA of Schaerer, so we are banking on something deeply ingrained in the company. But we want to professionalise that flexibility,” Schwartze says.

“This starts at the point of sale with customer-focused global account or regional sales managers and goes through product management, research and development, and operations, where we’ve made huge steps ahead.”

Since 2017, Schwartze says Schaerer has doubled the number of machines it sells and produces, and has reorganised its production to accommodate the growth.

“Once a customer makes the decision to roll out a machine, they don’t want to wait too long to receive it. If you’re talking about producing 10,000 machines in a short period of time, then you need to ramp up very quickly,” he says.

“We’ve changed whole workstations to make the system more flexible in terms of setup, volume, and the models we can produce.”

A large part of Schaerer’s growth is due to partnerships and projects in the United States and Asia spreading its presence in markets outside of Europe.

“Our business is now quite evenly distributed around the globe. In 2018, we worked with an American coffee chain with the refurbishments of its shops, but the largest growth driver in the US has certainly been the convenience store market,” Schwartze says.

“We had our biggest project ever in this arena with an American convenience store chain in 2019. One reason for this success was our ability to customise our espresso-based machines to instead serve pressure brew, resembling the taste of a typical American long black coffee, catering to American consumer tastes. This not only involved fitting in a larger brewer, but adapting the whole hydraulics system.”

In Asia, Schaerer’s projects include partnerships with 7/11 in Taiwan where it delivered more than 90 per cent of the convenience chain’s coffee machines, and ongoing work with Luckin Coffee in China.

Schwartze says these types of customer-centric projects have helped Schaerer expand its product portfolio for the betterment of other customers.

“When we customise a machine, it’s not always visible from the outside. For example, the first time we introduced the Hot & Cold system to our machines, it was for a customer in Asia,” he says.

“It began as a country- and customer-specific solution that was further developed and optimised to fit our general customer requirements. Then we took it into our portfolio and made it widely available for the first time. Now Hot & Cold is implemented in nearly every machine we’ve set up in the US and Asia, and we see this trend becoming more popular in Europe.”

Schaerer’s revitalised focus on customisation was in full force at Host Milano in October, where the manufacturer unveiled its Soul Select range, which will launch
in 2020.

“With Soul Select, customers can pick what they need and get the machine that they want. If you are a chain operator, you need the highest performance you can get. But if an employee is operating the machine, it doesn’t need a huge screen or stainless steel casing,” Schwartze says.

“On the other hand, a hotel chain might use super-automatics in the breakfast area, with a high demand for quality but a small output. In this case, you’d want to present a high-end, nice-looking machine with a big screen, because it’s self-operated by the consumer or hotel guest.”

Soul Select builds on the technology and features of the Schaerer Coffee Soul machine, with recently added new features such as parallel dispensing of water and coffee, electric grinder adjustment, twin milk dispensing, and pre-configured user interfaces for staff-operated, self-service, or office use. Even so, Schwartze says the best and still-expanding feature of the Schaerer Coffee Soul is how it embraces the digital arena.

“We’ve offered a mono-directional connection for a while, where data from the machine can be extracted and either be assessed in our or the customer’s platform,” Schwartze says. “Now, we’ve introduced bidirectional features, so people can add information to the unit, such as uploading pictures or the remote locking of the machine.

“Digital payment is also key, especially in China. If you want to sell self-service machines, you need to offer WeChatPay or AliPay, because that’s the only way the consumer wants to pay for it.”

While looking into new ways customers can pay and order coffee, Schaerer identified the underserved premium vending market as another avenue for growth. To fill this niche, Schaerer has launched the Premium Coffee Corner, a freestanding coffee unit with a 32-inch display screen and many of the features found in the manufacturer’s other models.

“From our perspective, tabletop manufacturers are already in the vending arena, but only offer a tabletop payment solution. The question is: ‘why shouldn’t it be offered in freestanding format?’” Schwartze asks.

“The consumer trend is towards high-quality coffee, and people would be grateful for a premium quality from a freestanding machine. You can see this in the success of Costa Express in the United Kingdom.”

Keeping with the theme of customisation, Schaerer offers the Premium Coffee Corner as a full unit or just the interior, so customers can construct their own casing for the model. Schwartze says the machine has piqued the interest of coffee brands which want to expand their sales channels.

“Our traditional customers are looking to enter the vending market without sacrificing their usual quality,” he says, “while users of classic vending machines want to meet the increasing quality demands of their customers.”

With Schaerer’s new emphasis on tailored solutions and professionalism, Schwartze says the manufacturer has made its relationships with its customers even stronger.

“The best feedback we receive is that they continue to order. But I’ve also heard positive things about the quality of the machines and our new approach,” Schwartze says.

“Just last week, we were sitting with one of our major accounts, who commented that Schaerer felt like a different company. Not that we’d lost our DNA or who we are, but that we were more structured, with an improved approach to the customer. It’s a compliment we’re proud to take.”

For more information, visit www.schaerer.com

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