The bakery trade has a long history. The baker profession dates back more than 1000 years. Yet despite its proud past, bakeries have a difficult time these days because they have to increasingly compete against rival types of businesses.
Many gas stations, train stations, newspaper kiosks or supermarkets feature convenience departments that offer baked goods. Self-service bakeries that need less staff, as well as coffee shops and bistros, also fuel competitive pressure.
Bakery restaurants score with a cozy ambiance
According to Andreas Kofler, Managing Director of the Württemberg Association of the Bakery Trade (Landesinnungsverband für das Württembergische Bäckerhandwerk), this wide range of options forces bakeries to more distinctly emphasize their unique selling points. He adds that there is a clear trend towards bakery restaurants, that being bakeries where customers can sit down in an eating area and consume small meals, coffee, and pastries in a cozy ambiance.
“Today, it is no longer enough to offer buns and bread,“ agrees Sebastian Holzberger, Marketing Director at Aichinger GmbH, which specializes in shopfitting the food industry. “Bakeries have to create a comfortable atmosphere to encourage customers to stay longer and spend more time at the store. And this is a major advantage that bakeries can exert over retailers.“ This asset also needs to be reflected in the store design to stand out from the crowd. According to Holzberger, there is a clear trend towards individualized and memorable store concepts.
Some bakeries let you look behind the scenes. Event bakeries can be booked for events. They also host baking classes and tasting events.
„Bakers are open to new concepts. This is also the result of a competitive environment.“ (Sebastian Holzberger, Aichinger)
New, practical payment solutions are in demand in bakeries
When bakeries are being renovated or newly opened, they increasingly integrate modern technologies that have already taken hold in the retail sector. There is an increasing demand for efficient payment solutions in food retail since the simultaneous handling of cash and food items is often deemed unsanitary. What’s more, counting coins takes up valuable time that could be spent serving customers for example. Modern payment solutions can make “payment processing faster, more efficient and more sanitary,“ says Kofler.
There are suitable tools that automate cash management and simplify payment with coins. Those can be integrated into sales counters and self-operated by customers. Change is given automatically, while the cash register is also balanced after closing.
Contactless payment systems are the most convenient method of payment for consumers. Customers simply hold their NFC chip debit or credit cards in front of the payment terminal to pay. According to CardProcess GmbH, requests for this technology by the bakery trade continue to increase.
When it comes to payment solution technologies, Andreas Kofler believes that bakeries still need to catch up in terms of practical application. “We assume that we have to continue our focus in this area, especially when we recognize how the countries of Scandinavia increasingly implement cashless payment processes even for small amounts of money.“
Bakeries in the age of digitization: From click & collect to social media
The digital world has also made its way into food retail. At this point, bakeries frequently use digital signage solutions. In doing so, they inform consumers about the range of products, prices, specials or sales promotions. The monitors can also advertise the loyalty card, the company or new employees. News or weather reports are shown to entertain customers while they are waiting in line. The displayed information can be scheduled and smart controlled. Holzberger explains that price tag labels could likewise be implemented digitally and flexibly and integrated into the sales counters.
As is generally the case in retail, online shopping is also gaining momentum when it comes to food items and baked goods. Customers expect click & collect options. Many bakeries now also offer customers the chance to order items via the online store or an app – with options ranging from sandwiches to small pizzas all the way to custom-made cakes. In some cases, customers can also request order suggestions based on the number of people (vegetarians or vegans) or the desired ingredients. Some bakeries even deliver the order (within local area boundaries).
„Online retail is also becoming increasingly important for the bakery trade.“ (Andreas Kofler, Landesinnungsverband Württembergisches Bäckerhandwerk)
The Junge GmbH bakery and pastry shop in Northern Germany pursues an omnichannel strategy. Not only does the company offer various online channels, it also plays suitable, custom-made contents like the YouTube series Junge Rezepte mit Jasmine (English: Junge’s Recipes with Jasmine). There is also a Junge app where customers can call up allergen and nutritional information on their cell phones, order photo cakes or replace the JungeCard customer and payment card.
The Junge bakery also integrates the social media trend called “food posting“ into its store concept. In one of its stores in Berlin, the bakery and coffee shop provides special high tables for customers who want to post photos of their dishes on social networks. Here they can choose from different backgrounds and enjoy ideal lighting to stage their food.
Seeing the big picture
Needless to say, we can only speculate as to what bakeries might look like in the future. That being said, the technological innovations that are already being utilized in the retail sector or trends in shopfitting and customer service already give us a general idea of things to come.
Advertising, the ordering and payment processes – maybe by using our smartphones, shopping at the bakery will change more drastically than we are currently able to image. Kofler also suspects that “the communication between customer and sales will likely permanently change“. And maybe bakeries might even serve their customers by using robots or drones in the future.