What do you do when the core of your business model unexpectedly changes?
That's exactly the situation that The Perk, a coffee shop in Winter Park, Colorado, faced several weeks ago. As a local coffee shop, The Perk offers its customers everything from meticulously crafted coffee beverages to whole beans, and even local Colorado craft beers.
More importantly, The Perk aims to be a gathering place with a space for everybody. So when Colorado instructed restaurants to temporarily switch to pick-up orders only, the coffee shop needed to quickly shift their business model. Automation was crucial to helping them continue serving customers during this time of transition.
Automation has made our lives drastically easier, as business owners—even during this unique time.
Austin Gray, co-owner of The Perk
"We first started using Zapier about two years ago, when we overhauled all of our software systems in a previous small business acquisition. It's literally my favorite tool. Automation has made our lives drastically easier, as business owners—even during this unique time," says Austin Gray, co-owner of The Perk.
Building an online ordering process in one morning
When the state of Colorado proactively restricted eat-in establishments, Gray needed to find an alternative way to serve customers.
"Initially, the state told us we had to close our indoor seating and could only serve customers to-go orders. So I thought: How could we easily set up an online ordering system?" he recalls.
Since taking over the business several years before, Gray had come to rely on Zapier to make a wide range of processes more efficient—and it was the first solution that came to mind.
Being familiar with Zapier from previous projects, I was able to put together an automated workflow for an online ordering system in the time it took me to drink my Thursday morning cup of coffee.
Gray built several Zaps that powered an online ordering workflow, so baristas could create beverages for customers without seeing them in-person.
The first Zap triggered when there was a new online form submission from the coffee shop's website (hosted by Squarespace).
"In big letters on our homepage, it said: 'We're now accepting online orders. Fill out the form below with your name, phone number, and selection from the menu,'" Gray explains.
The Zap then pushed the new order into a Google Sheets spreadsheet as a new row. A second Zap then triggered, using SMS by Zapier to send a text message to the shop's phone to alert staff of the new order.
"I built a customized text message that automatically pulls in the customer's name and order from the Google Sheet," Gray says. "It also included their phone number and instructions to call the customer if the barista had any questions."
This simple yet powerful workflow allowed Gray to keep serving customers while following the new regulations—and keeping his employees safe.
"The simplicity of it allowed customers to place an online order, and our baristas could see it and make it," he notes. "This system could easily work for any local restaurant looking to add an online ordering system to their website."
Evolving a subscription-based eCommerce business
As Colorado continued to tweak the new regulations, Gray and his business partner decided it was best to close down retail operations altogether to do their part. But they still wanted to provide their customers with great coffee at home.
So he started offering coffee bean subscriptions through Shopify. To support this workflow, he built a multi-step Zap that triggers whenever there's a new order in The Perk's Shopify store.
The Zap adds the customer as a new subscriber in Mailchimp—or updates the subscriber if they already exist—and applies the correct tag. Then the Zap creates a new row in Google Sheets for the order, notifies The Perk's team via Slack and SMS, and creates a new conversion in Proof (the shop's marketing automation tool).
A closer look at The Perk's initial online ordering workflow
Send online form submissions to a Google Sheet
This Zap automatically moves new orders from a form on The Perk's website into a Google Sheet, so they can track those sales.
Send an SMS from a new Google Sheets row
This Zap alerts the coffee shop's staff whenever there's a new order, so they can get started fulfilling the request.
A closer look at The Perk's eCommerce workflow
Add new Shopify orders as tagged subscribers in Mailchimp
This Zap takes new Shopify orders and turns them into Mailchimp subscribers—or updates existing subscribers—and tags them appropriately.
Create a new row in Google Sheets for new Shopify orders
This Zap adds new Shopify orders to a Google Sheet as new rows.
Notify the team of new orders via Slack and SMS This Zap notifies the team members responsible for fulfilling new orders as they come in.
Add new Mailchimp subscribers to Proof as conversions
This Zap tracks successful lead conversions by adding new Mailchimp subscribers to Proof.
Staying flexible with automation
For businesses like The Perk, automation with Zapier allows them to be more flexible and evolve quickly during times of uncertainty and transition.
"My point of view during this challenging time is that we all have to do our part and stay positive—and do what we can to help," Gray says. "It can be difficult to keep your head straight, especially as a business owner. There were definitely a few rough days at first. But eventually, we just had to step back and say: 'What can we do to put our best foot forward and come up with solutions to keep serving our customers?'"