Tealive morphs ATM space into cashless bubble tea outlet

While a 2.2 by 2-metre space might be small to some, it certainly did not hinder Tealive from repurposing it into a cashless quick service restaurant (QSR). The Malaysian bubble tea brand recently converted an ATM space at Swanston Street in Melbourne just opposite the State Library, into its latest outlet with two employees working at any one time.

CEO Bryan Loo told A+M that Tealive is constantly in search of breakthrough models, just like how it recently integrated its store into a Uab bank outlet in Myanmar. According to him, the new store allows Tealive to obtain "the fastest ROI compared to conventional models" with its small footprint and low capital expenditure.

As for the location, Loo said it lies in the heart of Melbourne's CBD and its high profile location helps boost the brand's awareness and target the city's international student community. The new QSR outlet will offer a smaller menu comprising only its top-selling drinks to ensure quality is not compromised. To promote its new QSR store in Melbourne, Tealive had a bubble tea giveaway, distributing more than 1,000 cups in four hours, Loo said.

Malaysian consumers can also look forward to this interesting store concept as the brand is currently working with "one of the largest banks in Malaysia" to build an extension into the bank's old ATM site, Loo told A+M. The new outlet will roll out early in the second quarter of 2020 and Tealive will target areas with high footfall and urban sites such as Klang Valley.

“Tealive has many formats and when we saw the opportunity that this location offered, we wanted to rise to the challenge and see if such a small space could work. If we can prove this concept successful, it opens the doors for great cost-efficient locations across Australia and internationally,” Loo explained.

Meanwhile, Shane Francis, CEO of Tealive Australia, said the company had to be innovative. "The reality is as we enter a more cashless society, ATMs are going to need to be repurposed and this creates a huge opportunity if we can make this location work. We’ve had to figure out how to serve customers a quality and timely beverage in a seriously limited space and it is our mission for this site to succeed," Francis added.

Recently, the lifestyle tea brand unveiled a strawless bubble tea cup and a glass tumbler, with a pledge to reduce the use of single-use cups by 500,000 pieces a month next year. As part of the sustainability effort, Tealive offers two types of reusable cups – a glass tumbler called OneCup designed by a young Malaysian entrepreneur Sam Loh, and the strawless bubble tea cup.