Coffee Breaks Transformed

Costa personalise the coffee break experience


Digital Transformation may be one of the most overused phrases in the IT lexicon, but at its heart is the concept of enhanced customer service – the drive to give people exactly what they want, when, where and how they want it, and to make purchasing an easy, speedy, enjoyable experience.

That’s exactly what Costa Coffee has done with a major programme of front and middle house innovation currently rolling out across the organisation. With several major cross-company transformations, the project is creating a stir in the industry due to the scale of its achievement and the short time it’s taken to deliver it.

The programme involves:

  • Introducing its customers to a new, state-of-the-art digital proposition
  • Replacing the company’s current till estate with a new EPOS platform and training staff to use it
  • Selecting and delivering a new finance platform for the Roastery, which prepares and packages coffee for Costa’s 3,000 plus shops around the world
  • Integrating the new systems into the business – delivering a middleware layer to enable change to be delivered at pace

Contact us

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    Your Message

    Searchlight’s Role

    Steve Sharp, director at Searchlight Consulting, who worked with Costa to devise, manage and deliver the programme recalls how it all started: “In November 2015, Costa’s CIO undertook a review of the company’s IT capability. He brought us in to look at Costa’s IT strategy and align it with the business strategy, and from there we worked together to take it to the Board and draw up a roadmap for delivery in 2016.”


    Plan and Value Delivered

    At the heart of the programme is how Costa seamlessly interacts with their customer using a Cloud-based integration platform to enable different channels and technologies to come together to provide a consistent business process,” explains Searchlight’s Chief Digital Officer. “Costa has introduced 106 API’s in three months, which should usually have taken about two years at three times the cost. People said it couldn’t be done, but we delivered an exemplary integration platform at pace.”

    The digital proposition has been further enhanced with a new app, developed by Costa’s new digital team at parent company Whitbread’s headquarters.  Searchlight worked with Costa CIO to bring digital development capability back in-house, after it had been sourced to a third party, and have worked with the team to identify features and requirements and crucially, to integrate the app with back-end solutions such as finance, the new EPOS system, and the loyalty platform.

    Not only will the app fulfil the functions of a loyalty card – customers will simply swipe it at the new till system to receive points, offers and review their balances, it will enable other services such as store finding, pre-ordering and pre-payment.  Searchlight’s CTO, explains some of the thinking behind it. “The art of customer experience is emotion – when you have a coffee, you’re giving yourself a treat. You feel good, and the goal was to make the experience as positive as possible.  Today’s customers have very specific sets of wants and needs. Busy professionals want to be able to order and pay for their coffee while still on the train, for example.  People working on their laptops in the coffee shops prefer to order from their tables, and nobody likes queuing so we aimed to make transactions quicker, easier and more convenient than ever before.

    A new EPOS system underpins the programme, which started to be rolled out in February 2017. Searchlight’s CTO says: “The old platform was outdated and slow moving, and by the end of 2017 would have been unsupported by the original solution provider as well, so there were over 2,000 tills that needed to be replaced.  The new tills have had to be integrated with the rest of the new systems we were introducing, and we’ve also had to train staff to use them, which was a massive undertaking.

    We set out an ambitious plan to put in place the capabilities that would enable Costa to place the customer at the heart of its proposition. But more importantly, our strategy focused on ensuring that we understood our customers and were able to evolve our service and product offering at pace. In 2016, we have delivered the foundations in terms of loyalty, EPOS, integration connectivity and digital capabilities, which will be further leveraged in 2017. Steve and the Searchlight team have worked with Costa to shape and then deliver the transformation – they really understood our challenges and helped us navigate through the complex transition and continue to help us leverage the new platforms into 2017

    Costa CIO

    More Information

    Searchlight are experts at aligning business and IT strategy, shaping business transformation programmes and helping our clients build business and IT capability throughout the transformation journey. Contact us today to find out how our independent advice could help you grow, develop new capabilities and future-proof your organisation.


    Back to Case Studies

    Searchlight TeamCoffee Breaks Transformed