This week for AirPOS Lovin’ retail we are excited to highlight the work from one of our retailers whose mission to inject positivity and joy into the lives of their community has transformed through moving to an online space.
Robin’s Hobby Cafe is truly one of a kind not only creating a space for customers to come together for a social catch up over a coffee but allowing them to embrace the hobbies they love as well as try out new activities they’ve always been interested in.
The business idea was born out of the personal experience of owner Bill who wanted to create a space for “individuals with different abilities to be able to get involved in a range of activities that they could enjoy, regardless of their personal challenges or conditions”.
Robin’s Hobby Cafe is inspired by the owner’s daughter Robin who he says is the real boss behind the operation and motivated him to build the strong, warm and friendly community that is attached to the business today.
Who are Robin’s Hobby Cafe and what do they do?
Robin’s Hobby cafe is a unique space located in East Belfast that as mentioned allows people from all backgrounds and abilities to come together.
The business operates as a coffee shop however those that visit can also buy games, crafting sets or bring along their own activities to enjoy alongside a relaxing tea or tempting traybake.
The cafe has built a strong community and relies on its network of volunteers, to help them run classes in shop from everything from model making to needlecraft or découpage to jewellery making.
The Hobby Cafe uses AirPOS in its physical location to manage their sales and also track their stock so that they always have the products their customers love in store.
As well as this AirPOS helps the staff serve customers within the cafe efficiently due to the user-friendly interface.
As mentioned Robin’s Hobby Cafe relies heavily on its network of volunteers from different backgrounds and therefore they needed a system that helped to simplify their operations.
Robin’s Hobby Cafe Challenges
The fundamental value of Robin’s Hobby Cafe is to build a strong community and therefore the social aspect of the business is hugely important.
This meant that COVID created major issues for their operation. Particularly for a business that aims to create a safe space for those of all abilities, owner Bill had to take the safety of his customers as his first priority meaning closing completely during the pandemic.
Closing the business was not only heartbreaking for Bill and his loyal customers, who relied hugely on the community that the cafe had built but the pandemic also created a large degree of uncertainty.
For a business that has social contact at its core, it was unclear when the cafe would be able to reopen and serve its customers once more.
The risk is too high to take the pandemic lightly; reopening the cafe before they were completely certain they could serve their customers safely was not an option for the owners.
How did AirPOS help?
From speaking with Bill of Robin’s Hobby Cafe, he highlighted that AirPOS, particularly the ecommerce function, has saved their business.
He discussed with us that whenever lockdown was announced, understandably, they didn’t know how they would be able to continue; operating a business that, as mentioned, relies so heavily on person to person contact.
However, they never realised that in light of the pandemic they were able to diversify their business and serve their customers better than ever before.
The answer to the business’ problems was ecommerce; something they had never considered before.
The team at Robin’s Hobby Cafe mentioned that they would’ve never considered going online before, believing it to be too complicated and not necessary for their business however this became crucial in recent months.
Owner Bill mentioned that AirPOS Ecommerce was exactly what they needed.
Having been using the point of sale in their physical cafe for the past year, it was simple to build their online ecommerce website with automatic synchronisation of products and descriptions.
All he needed to do was simply add pictures.
Moving their business online was “painless” and Bill has found that their customers love it.
They use their online website to not only showcase and sell their products to satisfy customers stuck at home, but they have also been able to use their store to sell spaces and accompanying products for their online Zoom classes.
This has allowed them to keep their community involved at a time when spirits may be low and loneliness high.
When speaking with Bill he noted that the support available at AirPOS was a significant factor when deciding to make the move online.
He had no previous experience and building an online store that could actually serve their customers seemed like an insurmountable task.
However, the level of round the clock support offered by AirPOS gave him the confidence that he could create an online store that helped to save their business.
In a time when good news is far and in between we love to see one of our customers go the extra mile to serve their customers.
The cafe offers a unique and valued service that has been able to adapt in ways they never before thought possible.
Bill ended his discussion with AirPOS by reiterating that “during the last 3 months the service and support at AirPOS have enabled us to stay in business. Without it, we wouldn’t be still trading today.”
Make sure to check out Robin’s Hobby Cafe today and find your newest lockdown obsession and be part of their growing community.