Run Your Cafe Like a Bank: How Ethereal Cafe Created a Starbucks-Style Mobile App


increase in app store views


increase in app downloads


increase in app sessions


increase in app store views


increase in app downloads


increase in app sessions


Do your customers have an easy way to order and pay ahead of time? Take a page from coffee giant Starbucks and turn your cafe into its own digital bank through a custom mobile app. Ethereal Cafe partnered with Per Diem to launch an app allowing customers to deposit store credit for future use. The cafe gets the revenue upfront while customers enjoy the convenience of mobile ordering and payment. Read on to learn how Ethereal Cafe created their own Starbucks-style app to run their cafe like a bank.

Offer Customers Prepaid Store Credits Like Starbucks

If Starbucks was a bank, its deposit amount would surpass that of 90 percent of the institutions under the US FDIC's coverage.

Like Starbucks, let your customers load store credits into your mobile app to incentivize sales and increase loyalty. Offer promotional bonuses, such as an extra $30 credit when they add $50 or more.

  • Allow customers to purchase store credits in various denominations through your app, then redeem them for menu items on future visits. Credits don't expire, so they keep coming back.
  • Enable customers to check their credit balance and transaction history right in the app. Make it easy to reload their account or gift credits to friends.
  • When a customer purchases with store credit, the full ticket amount immediately hits your point-of-sale system, while their credit balance decreases. You get paid upfront.
  • Occasionally email customers with low balances, reminding them to top up their accounts. Send exclusive coupon codes to incentivize reloading their balance.

Adopting a prepaid store credit program through your mobile app allows you to operate like a bank. Customers load their accounts in advance, providing you with working capital. Meanwhile, they're invested in spending those balances with you.

How Ethereal Cafe Became Their Own Bank with a Mobile App

Ethereal Cafe wanted to offer its customers the same convenience and features as the Starbucks app. By partnering with Per Diem, they were able to create a customized mobile app that integrates with their Square POS.

  • The Ethereal Cafe app allows customers to order and pay ahead so their coffee and food are ready when they arrive. This skips the queue and streamlines the in-store experience.
  • The app also includes a loyalty program where customers can load "Store Credit" and earn a bonus with each load. This functions similarly to the Starbucks app, where balances are stored for future use.
  • When a customer deposits Credit, those funds are immediately available to the cafe instead of sitting unused. This benefits the business by providing upfront capital.
  • Customers manage all their orders and rewards right in the app. Integrations with Square and DoorDash enable full-service ordering and delivery.

By leveraging Per Diem's white-label app, Ethereal Cafe succeeded in launching an app with the convenience and features that today's customers expect.

Benefits of a Mobile Ordering App for Ethereal

Through its Per Diem app, Ethereal is now offering its customers lots of more perks, to improve their overall experience.

  • Customers appreciate the convenience and familiarity of using an app to browse menus, customize orders, pre-pay, earn rewards, and more. This enhances their experience.
  • The app allows customers to take their time exploring menu options, reading descriptions, and making selections. This often leads to larger orders, upsells, and increased revenue.
  • Mobile ordering has improved operational efficiency by allowing the cafe to prepare orders ahead of time. This reduces wait times and increases throughput.
  • Data and analytics from the dashboard provide Ethereal with valuable customer insights – popular items, peak times, new customers, and purchasing trends. These can strategize marketing and streamline inventory management.
  • Features like pre-ordering, scheduled pickup, and in-app payments create a "grab and go" experience that appeals to today's busy consumers.
  • Loyalty programs and special offers through the app encourage repeat business for them while push notifications, alert customers, to new menu items, events, and deals whenever the cafe announces them.

Adopting mobile ordering technology allows small, specialty coffee shops like Ethereal Cafe to leverage the convenience and familiarity of apps to attract and retain customers in a highly competitive market. The data and operational efficiencies also help optimize the business.

Ethereal's banking app? No, Ethereal's mobile ordering app

Key Features of a Successful Cafe Mobile App

Creating an app like Ethereal Cafe’s allows you to run your cafe like a bank by implementing key features such as:

  • Pre-ordering and pickup: Allow customers to order and pay ahead of time through the app. This lets them skip the line when they arrive. Integrate with your POS system for seamless order fulfillment.
  • In-app payments: Offer the convenience of paying directly in the app, similar to Starbucks. This provides a fast checkout experience and allows customers to accrue rewards.
  • Loyalty programs: Incentivize repeat business with rewards like free drinks and food discounts. The easier you make it to earn and redeem rewards, the more loyal your customers will be.
  • Gift cards and store credit: Allow customers to purchase virtual gift cards and store credit to deposit funds into their app account. You get the revenue upfront while they spend it later.
  • Push Notifications: Send special offers, announcements, and reminders to encourage return visits. Well-timed notifications keep you top of mind.
  • Custom branding: Make the app recognizably yours with your logo, colors, and tone. This boosts brand awareness and gives your app its unique flair.

The right mix of convenience, rewards, and branding makes for an app that customers will use again and again.

Build a Starbucks-like Mobile App for Your Cafe with Per Diem

Per Diem allows coffee shops like Ethereal to create their own mobile ordering experience similar to the Starbucks app. With an easy-to-use interface, your customers can order and pay directly from their phones for pickup or delivery.

Integrate the app into Square POS so orders flow directly to the kitchen.

Benefits of building a Starbucks-style app with Per Diem:

  • Seamless integration with Square POS for a unified customer experience
  • Accept mobile payments and deposits to drive revenue
  • Custom branding reinforces your unique identity
  • Improve order accuracy with a direct-to-kitchen system
  • Gain insights into customer purchase patterns and behavior

Turn your cafe into a seamless, futuristic experience. Adopt mobile technology to meet shifting consumer preferences. Launch your branded app to drive repeat business and stand out from the competition.

Final Thoughts

You too can transform your cafe into a modern, mobile-friendly business like Ethereal Cafe. With a custom mobile ordering app, you can allow customers to pre-pay for future visits while getting credit in hand today. Like the major chains, an app creates convenience and an enhanced experience for your regulars. Give your customers the flexibility to skip lines and earn rewards, without compromising the charm of your one-of-a-kind cafe. Partnering with Per Diem means you can run your cafe like a bank while keeping your unique character front and center.