Case studies, B2B Ecommerce

Pilot Coffee Roasters: roasting up B2B eCommerce success

BY Crystal Gilliam 24 May, "16

What does it take to get a good cup of coffee? Ask Pilot Coffee Roasters - they have it down to a science. They source their beans from the origin, roast them in-house, have 3 retail spaces while managing it all with TradeGecko...they really know the answer to that question.

Pilot Coffee Roasters was founded in Toronto by Andy and Jessie Wilkin, two people with a passion for specialty coffee. This passion was the building block for Pilot Coffee Roasters, a wholesale and retail coffee roasting business. Though their focus is on offering specialty coffee to their market, they also offer coffee and tea brewing accessories.

On top of that, Pilot Coffee Roasters emphasize the importance of education by implementing a training program for all their baristas, offer Espresso Labs to their customers, and have a monthly blog, The Fix, which focuses on what new products and any innovative experiments that the company is currently doing. One visit to their website confirms that they’re experts when it comes to all things coffee-related.

The business is driven by the goal of roasting and selling high quality coffee and doing it with an amazing team of people. We spoke with Roastery Manager Sam Le for more information. She discussed why Pilot Coffee Roasters is more than just another coffee roaster and how they use TradeGecko to make their operations more efficient.

Pilot Coffee + TradeGecko

Direct Trade for direct results

Pilot Coffee Roasters doesn’t get their coffee beans from just anywhere. They put a special emphasis on the importance of sourcing: ensuring they find quality beans, and that the producers and everyone involved are paid equitably for what they produce. Because of this focus, they realized Direct Trade was the sourcing model they needed to follow.

Different from Fair Trade, with Direct Trade, Pilot Coffee Roasters travel directly to the farm, connecting with like-minded producers, mainly in Central and South America. This ensures that what Pilot values is reflective in all of their supply chain. This also means that they can select their coffee first-hand and develop really great relationships with the people who supply the beans - the backbone of their business.

Roasting, brewing, selling

Once they have their beans, how does the business operate? Their main focus is wholesale distribution with 3 retail outlets in Toronto. You can buy their products throughout North America, while most of their sales come from Ontario and Quebec.

Their coffee beans are made to order, which means they hold very little inventory of the final product. When a customer places an order, Pilot will roast, pack and ship as soon as feasible; typically it would take 2 -3 days but they have the goal of shipping the products the day of to guarantee freshness and quality.

Pilot Coffee + TradeGecko

Before TradeGecko

When Pilot Coffee Roasters first started out, they accepted orders through email. A logistics employee would organize the orders they received and create a schedule for the day.

As business expanded, the head of logistics began to spend more and more time manually collecting the orders and creating a schedule, wasting lots of time in the process. They realized that they would not only need a team dedicated to the wholesale aspect of business, but that they would also need an automated system to keep all those orders in order, so to speak.

Enter the solution

After researching several options, Pilot Coffee Roasters heard about TradeGecko and decided to give it a try. With the B2B eCommerce platform, it became clear that this could be a great solution to their coffee order processing inefficiencies.

Once they implemented TradeGecko, they utilized the Shopify and Xero integrations to further automate their business processes.

Business operations now 

TradeGecko is essential to business at Pilot Coffee Roasters, especially the B2B eCommerce platform. Everyone on the team knows how to access it and use it to derive maximum operational efficiency. For example, the Accounts Team uses TradeGecko as a CRM to keep contacts organized, up-to-date, and to be able to track contact details of their customers in one centralized place.

We are always introducing new products into our offerings. Having TradeGecko as our inventory management system helps us introduce new products without losing track of stock movement - and that makes our lives a lot easier.

TradeGecko helps the operations team generate a pick list based on sales orders and sets the roasting schedule for the day. All the orders are organized and it’s easy to see what is in stock, the progress of the order, and the overall state of orders.

We’ve saved 2-3 hours per day of trying to input all the data that’s needed for the day. TradeGecko creates an efficient process that organizes all the products that we need as orders come in.

Wholesaling with the B2B eCommerce platform

With wholesale operations being a large part of their business, Pilot Coffee Roasters especially appreciates the wholesale functions of TradeGecko, specifically the B2B eCommerce platform.

The biggest advantages of the B2B platform for Pilot Coffee Roasters are up-to-date product lists, organized sales orders, and easy communication with their customers.

Where they used to spend a lot of time making up the order schedule for the day, with TradeGecko, they save time on organizing orders, allowing them to spend time with their customers. With up to 50 orders per day that need to be organized and roasted, the B2B eCommerce platform helps them automate their processes - saving huge amounts of time.

The B2B platform gives us a great way to communicate with our customers. It also gives them the ability to order whenever they want, and easily see what we have in stock. On our side, it gives us awesome organization and an up to date product list, without having to spend much time updating it on the backend.

Adapting wholesale customers to online ordering

As with any change in the order process, they did have some challenges with getting customers to get comfortable using their online wholesale store built on TradeGecko’s B2B eCommerce platform. While it actually makes the order process faster and more efficient, they noticed a few customers still preferred to place orders over email, which they still happily take.

Overall, however, the B2B platform is a hit. New or existing customers who are more tech savvy have no problem using the new ordering system and they often receive good feedback from customers on ease of use.

TradeGecko is constantly making improvements and have made the B2B platform a major focus. This is awesome for businesses like ours, and we get lots of positive feedback on the user interface.

Make us a cup!

Pilot Coffee Roasters has turned a passion for coffee into a wholesale and retail business that really stands out from the competition. With a focus on quality, excellent customer service and dedication to their values, Pilot Coffee Roasters has become a brewing and roasting success."

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See Also:

Selling on the go with the TradeGecko for Sales mobile app

A new B2B eCommerce platform: empowering you to sell more

Honest Brew: a champion of craft beer and impressive inventory management

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