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Ling Ling Taiyaki is a café in Kampar, established since June 2018. It provides food
and catering services. It started off by serving drinks and desserts. But as time goes by, it starts
selling fusion food to fulfill the needs of the customers. The peak hours of Ling Ling Taiyaki
are between 12 pm to 3 pm.
The owner, Miss Ling, learned how to bake in Taiwan. She is very specific about the
quality of the food her café serves, and the service which her staff provides. She has high
expectations and requirements on the service that her staff provide and is very stern when it
comes to working. She believes that being serious and focused during work is a crucial way to
achieve high productivity. However, when it’s off-work, she always maintains a good
relationship with her staff.
The retail location of Ling Ling Taiyaki is a planned location. It is located in a strip
shopping centre as it has on-site parking lots in front of the shops. Also, there is a walkway in
front of the shops, enabling consumers to walk around and look into the shops. Its location can
be considered as strategic because it is near housing areas, universities and it is situated in the
new town of Kampar. Besides that, it is within walking distance to Econsave and a stadium.
Therefore, there will be a lot of people swarming around this area every day, especially
Since Ling Ling Taiyaki is located in a shop lot, its major competitor is only KB dot
my Café. The direct competitors of Ling Ling Taiyaki include all the cafes, bakeries and ice
cream shops in New Town. For example, Starbucks, KB dot my café, Yolo Espresso, Secret
Recipe, Simple Coffee, A&C Espresso, Buddies, Mc Café, OC Ice Cream Puff, Family Bakery,
QS Sweety, etc. As for indirect competitors, they are the fast food chains, restaurants and
beverage shops in New Town. For example, Bobalife, Spades Burger, The Alley, Tealive,
Chatto, Each A Cup, McDonalds, KFC, Dominos Pizza, etc.
As a specialty retail store, Ling Ling Taiyaki sells desserts and fusion cuisine. Ling
Ling Taiyaki targets students and families with children. The appearance of a store, including
lighting, layout, color of the walls, and also the atmosphere of it are critical and heavily impact
the customers’ impression and curiosity and gradually leads to an increase in sales. Results
show that most of the consumers would evaluate the external appearance before they decide
whether to consume in the shop (Store appearance is critical to retail sales, 2016). Ling Ling
Taiyaki also pays attention to their external presentation to make sure that they provide a tidy
and clean appearance to satisfy customers even though the owner, Miss Ling, thinks that the
customer service her cafe provide is much more important than the appearance of her cafe.
Furthermore, an important part of the cafe is visual merchandising, which is the
presentation of a shop in ways that will fascinate potential customers and gain more attention
(Levy, M., Weitz, B. A., & Grewal, 2014). Ling Ling Taiyaki uses frontal presentation to
display their ice creams. The ice cream display is situated right beside the path which customers
move around (Figure 5 ). In result of this, customers get to notice the ice creams more and it
may trigger their buying behaviors.
The choice of the wall paint color of a café is one of the main elements that creates a
good atmosphere. When we entered Ling Ling Taiyaki, the first thing that caught our eye was
the wall that was painted in a soft pink color and decorated with little designs. It has a good
and comfortable ambience that attracts the customers and gives them a good impression that
will make them look forward to their food. Secondly, there is a grid memo board, which is a
memory lane, for customers to clip their photos taken with their family at the photo booth. This
is to provide a platform for the customers to leave their memorable moments with their loved
ones and look back to them whenever they pay another visit.
All of these ideas regarding the designs of the wall are actually from Miss Ling, where
she said that everyone does have a young heart no matter how old you are. Therefore, she
wishes to create a wall that expresses the young and energetic traits of the youngsters.
Also, the lightings are a sticking point that can create a sense of excitement and make
people focus on special areas and objects. Ling Ling Taiyaki has created an appealing store
atmosphere by using pale yellow tone lights in their cafe because it produces emotional,
vibrant, hot and active responses (Levy, M., Weitz, B. A., & Grewal, 2014). It enhances the
feeling of the surroundings of the café and makes consumers willing to spend more time
enjoying afternoon tea and relaxing their minds in the cafe. Warm lighting can also make food
look more appealing and make customers feel more appetizing and ultimately to influence their
purchase behavior.
In creating an appealing store atmosphere, the smell of the cafe is important because
smell generates strong emotions. It has a huge impact on the customers’ thoughts and feelings
("The Smell Report - Emotion.", 2019). When the customers enter Ling Ling Taiyaki, they can
smell the strong aroma of their delicious food. Ling Ling Taiyaki does not put any air fresheners
or flowers which have a strong smell and the smell of coffee does not cover up the aroma of
the food. The aroma of food reaches the customers first before they eat. This will thus triggers
their taste buds and raise their interest to order more food.
Moreover, the layout of a shop determines whether the customer service is efficient and
effective. Ling Ling Taiyaki provided a bar counter and some seats for customers. Besides, it
has a spacious space between the tables and the bar counter for staff to serve the customer in a
smooth way and without bumping into each other. Other than that, they also take into
consideration the customers’ mobility when designing the layout of the shop, such as where
they move and pause or where there is overcrowding. In short, the overall appearance of Ling
Ling Taiyaki and the atmosphere of the cafe is consistent with the merchandise presented and
it has exceeded our expectations as customers.
Once the customers enter the cafe, the eye-catching sign board of Ling Ling Taiyaki
which is hanging on the wall didn’t fail to attract the customers’ attention because it has three
ceiling spotlights above that highlight it, making it appealing so that customers can recognize
it easily (Figure 9). Ling Ling Taiyaki also uses three small ceiling spotlights at the photo booth
to create a sense of excitement that makes customers eager to take a photo with friends while
waiting for their food to be served. Meanwhile, two rows of LED recessed lighting for energy
efficiency is embedded in the ceiling. They produce very little heat and retains its color, even
at a low light setting. Also, the ice cream display has little LED lights highlighting it from
above to make the ice cream stand out (Figure 5 ). Yellow lighting is also essential to create a
pleasant ambiance as the light creates a cleaner look as well as to provide a warm and cozy
environment that makes people feel like home.
Besides that, Ling Ling Taiyaki has embedded a café bar counter. Among the cafes
located in Kampar, Ling Ling Taiyaki is probably the only cafe that has a bar counter. Thus,
this has successfully gained the attention of customers, especially for customers that dine alone.
It reduces the feeling of isolation when customers are dining alone. Therefore, customers who
wish to eat alone may sit at the bar counter. The waiter who is working behind the bar counter
can also talk to the customers. During the conversation, the waiters can build better
relationships with customers, understand more about their preferences and even give them food
Lastly, Ling Ling Taiyaki has bird cages plants that are fixed on their walls as
decoration to add visual interest. Customer will look around the surroundings of the cafe while
waiting for their food to be served. Since the design of the decoration is a cage, customer may
easily be attracted by its uniqueness and it can bring an effect of viewing scenes of nature
which can reduce anger, stress and increase pleasant feelings of customers. Meanwhile,the
decoration can also enhance customers’ awareness on natural conservation.
Ling Ling Taiyaki is using outdoor signage, which includes banners and menus to
display and describe information about their products. There will also be periodic promotions,
such as set lunches. For physical retail stores like Ling Ling Taiyaki, having outdoor signage
is an important kind of promotion strategy because it creates the first impression customers
have for their business. In FIGURE_2, it shows the outdoor signage of Ling Ling Taiyaki. As
we can see, it catches attention and can be seen by customers easily when they walk by. By
using outdoor signage, it effectively increases the sales and profit of the café as compared to
not using any signage at all. The outdoor signage is compelling enough to attract customers’
attention to take a look at their menu.
During the interview, Miss Ling said, “People might think we only sell desserts, but
after they read through the menu and the outdoor signage, they get to know that we also serve
other foods, other than desserts.”
Next, the decoration of the wall space is relatively important. It helps to create the
atmosphere of the café as well as influence the ordering behavior of the customers. Ling Ling
Taiyaki is using simple decorations to decorate their walls now (FIGURE_3) but they plan to
decorate their walls with pictures of their food and desserts in the future. They believe that
customers tend to look around while customers are waiting for their food to be served. The
pictures on the walls may catch their attention and influence them to order more.
Besides that, Ling Ling Taiyaki also has a photo booth for their customers (FIGURE_4)
to take photos while waiting for their food to be served. This is a powerful promotion strategy
and marketing tool in gaining new customers due to the reason that the photo booth provokes
customers who take photos at their café to share it with their social media.
As we know, the waiters are the ones who interact with the customers. Therefore, the
interactions between waiters and customers are critical to the overall success of the cafe. Since
most of the customers are students, Ling Ling Taiyaki employs undergraduates as part-timers
because students often make great hosts as they are among the same age group. Since Ling
Ling Taiyaki only employs part-time staff, they do not provide staff training and they are only
doing basic jobs, such as taking orders, serving food to customers and cleaning the tables.
Surprisingly, the waiters in Ling Ling Taiyaki are friendly and helpful although no training is
given. However, they lack suggestive selling skills. They do not give recommendations to their
customers when they are hesitant when ordering. Other than that, the image of the staff is
consistent with the cafe. Even though the staff is being casual and friendly, they don’t get over
familiar with customers and they are always polite to their customers.
Ling Ling Taiyaki is using the spine layout which is the combination of the grid, loop,
and free flow layout as the strategy. It only consists of a single main aisle running from the
front to the back of the cafe. It can be considered as simple to customers and waiters because
there is only one main aisle for them to move around. Spine layout enables Ling Ling Taiyaki
to receive the benefits from three layouts at once.
As we can see in figure 8, the table arrangement of Ling Ling Taiyaki is neat and tidy.
Due to the table arrangement, customers will feel comfortable when they are dining at Ling
Ling Taiyaki. It also has a great atmosphere and environment for students to do assignments
and have group discussions there. This helps Ling Ling Taiyaki to attract more customers and
generate profit.
Besides that, spine layout reduces the waste of the floor space and ease the process of
floor cleaning. Moreover, spine layout can bring convenience to customers. For example,
customers can move and wander around freely in the cafe. Also, there is no barrier to display
the products. Customers can look at the product easily. Due to this, they can reach their favorite
products in a short time. Not only that, the waiters can serve the customers immediately
whenever the customer wants to order their food. Waiters can also deliver food to customers
as fast as they can because the table numbers can be recognized easily. This layout will enhance
service effectiveness and the process flow of delivering food to customers. Due to this,
customers may feel good about their service.
Other than that, Ling Ling Taiyaki has a café bar counter that is specially for customers
that come alone to reduce the feeling of isolation when they are eating alone. When the
customers sit at the bar counter, they will have their backs facing the other tables. This is to
prevent customers at the bar counter face directly to the customers that are dining at the tables
as they might feel awkward and uncomfortable. As a result of this, Ling Ling Taiyaki can
increase their sales and customers can enjoy their food without feeling lonely or awkward.
The spine layout can help Ling Ling Taiyaki to gain more customers and increase the
sales of their products. However, using a free-flow layout will be better for Ling Ling Taiyaki.
Ling Ling Taiyaki, a private-label brand that has been established since 2018. At first,
it only sells desserts, smoothies, milkshakes, milk teas and fruit teas. Then, it started selling
food like spaghetti, western food and rice to satisfy the different needs and demands of
customers. Based on our research, most customers are students, followed by families with
From the interview, we get to know a lot about the attitude of the owner of Ling Ling
Taiyaki, Miss Ling, towards the merchandise she sells. Miss Ling is very specific on the
freshness of the cake. She used to bake the cakes overnight, but keeping the cakes in the fridge
for long hours will affect their texture. So, in order to prevent that, she now sells her cakes on
a pre-order basis where customers have to order them first. Miss Ling is also very specific to
the ingredients she used in her cakes. Unlike other cake sellers who use artificial ingredients
and add preservatives, she uses fresh and natural ingredients in her cakes. At Ling Ling Taiyaki,
customers can customize their cakes based on their preferences too.
The main promoted product of Ling Ling Taiyaki is dessert. Desserts such as ice-cream
and cake slices are very popular among the customers, especially youngsters and students. The
ice-creams are displayed in a freezer with transparent glass for the convenience of the
customers when selecting the flavors according to Figure 5. According to our observation, this
display style has helped in preventing impatience and increasing sales as customers can see the
products on the spot and prevent color difference problems. During the interview, we are
surprised to find out that some of the ice cream, like the black sesame flavour, is homemade.
This has enabled her cafe to not only stand out among other competitors but also attract the
attention of new customers.
On the other hand, we get to know that the best selling product of Ling Ling Taiyaki is
the “set lunch”. Their lunch set includes a main course, a cup of drink and a dessert with some
free fruits. For instance, customers can choose the RM8.90 “set lunch” which comes with “Nasi
Goreng Kampung” with a Soya drink plus a scoop of yam flavor ice-cream and slices of apples
based on Figure 6. Hence, customers can have a “4 in 1” meal with the price of either RM8.90
or RM10.90 per set. According to Figure 6, the difference between these two prices is the meal
which costs RM10.90 has an addition of a piece of chicken chop or fish chip. The “set lunch”
is only available from 12 pm to 3 pm. However, customers are allowed to book them one day
earlier via phone to enjoy this valuable meal even though it is out of the specified time period.
Last but not least, most of the products except for some of the ice cream, are handmade
products. By sticking to the principle of keeping all the merchandise fresh, Miss Ling will
personally check on the freshness of the ingredients every day in order to make sure the
ingredients are eligible for use. Meanwhile, a fixed supplier will supply ice-creams, such as
vanilla, chocolate and Oreo, once a week. Moreover, the stocks are being cleared once every
three days. Miss Ling mentioned that she always buys the ingredients in a fixed amount to
maintain low cost as well as to prevent wasting food.
To improve the appearance and create a better atmosphere, there is no disputation that
shop uses the five sensations — sights, smells, sounds, taste and touch in combination to
produce a good ambience. Ling Ling Taiyaki can add some classical music or soft music to
stimulate customers’ emotional responses and to trigger different behavior of customers.
Undeniably, playing soft music makes customers spend more time in the shop and it’s begun
exploring as a sales tool (Devaney, 2016).
For the fixture, we highly recommend Ling Ling Taiyaki to install dimmers to
maximize the energy efficiency for the recessed lights. With an added dimmer, the lights can
be switched on according to their needs and they can reduce their electricity expenses, while
giving the cafe a good ambiance. Besides, since the colour and decoration of the cafe, which
is pink and white, mainly focus on female customers, we suggest that Ling Ling Taiyaki can
change the color of the cafe bar counter into a girly color so that it is consistent with the store
design. For instance, change the brown bar table into pink and also the black stools into white
ones in order to match with the appearance of the cafe. We also suggested that Ling Ling
Taiyaki can
Since the working hours of part-time staff won’t be as long as full-time staff, therefore
it might take a longer time for them to cope with the working environment and understand the
job. Hence, we suggest Ling Ling Taiyaki hire full-time staff and provide staff training. This
is to ensure that the staff has a greater understanding of their responsibilities, so they can
perform their job in their best. Besides, it also indirectly increases productivity and new ideas
will be formed since training encourages creativity.
As for the layout, Ling Ling Taiyaki can use the free-flow layout as the strategy. Ling
Ling Taiyaki can add more tables and arrange their tables in a free form. This enables Ling
Ling Taiyaki to accommodate more customers and make the store more attractive than using
spine layout. Besides that, the free-flow layout allows customers move and wander around
freely in the cafe. This layout will increase impulse buying. This is because the store is more
free-flowing, therefore, the customers can wander around and discover new products. This will
create an opportunity for Ling Ling Taiyaki to generate revenue by making customers purchase
products that they never notice or would not buy normally.
Meanwhile for merchandising, Ling Ling Taiyaki can serve dinner sets, instead of just
serving lunch sets to increase sales. This is because people usually spend more on dinner than
lunch. Besides, it can create a photo album for the cakes as there are neither cake samples nor
pictures of the cakes on display to promote them. If it has more funds, it can install a television,
then make a short video to present and promote its products and shop. In addition, the menu
should be eye-catching and fulfill the demands of both visualisers and verbalisers. Hence, it
can enlarge the menu’s font size and state the price of food clearly as we find out that the size
of the letters is quite small for people with an eyesight problem. Also, the attachment of more
pictures of the merchandise to increase customers’ confidence in their food selection and
relatively strengthen brand equity.
In short, we have learnt a lot throughout the whole research and analysis. From being
rejected by Secret Recipe to choosing the wrong shop, at last we finally found a café, which is
Ling Ling Taiyaki. The owner, Miss Ling was very generous and gave us the opportunity to
do an interview and know more about how things work in her café.
We learnt that getting feedback from customers is very important. The ideas to the
evolution of Ling Ling Taiyaki are all from its customers. From selling desserts only to selling
fusion food now, Miss Ling has never neglected the suggestions from her customers and is
always passionate in fulfilling and satisfying their needs.
Besides that, we learnt that it is important to build good relationships with employees.
Miss Ling is very specific in the quality of the food being served, and therefore she is very
strict and does not joke around when she is working with her employees. However, she never
gives them a hard time as she knows that part of the success of her café are from the hard work
of her employees and she always appreciates their help.
Lastly, we learnt that running a café is not as simple as it looks. Each strategy plays an
important role in the operation of the café. A successful retail store must have a strategic plan
and the ability to combine and put all the strategies together in a correct way.
1. When and why do you consider to start this cafe?
2. Can the location of the cafe be considered as a strategic location?
3. Who are your competitors?
4. Are there any challenges that you face when running this cafe?
5. Who are your target market?
6. Does the interior and exterior design of your cafe attract customers’ attention?
7. In your opinion, do you think customer service or the appearance of the cafe is more
8. Does the lighting highlight merchandise, outlet’s space and capture a mood?
9. Does the wall printing capture a mood?
10. Does the signage of the store help to promote your products? Does it improve sales?
11. Do you use the wall space to promote your products? Why?
12. Do you train your staff?
13. Why do you choose to arrange the tables in this way?
14. Does the layout enhance the process flow of delivering food to customers?
15. What is the main product of your cafe?
16. Among all the products, which is the best selling one?
17. Are there any displays that increase the interest of customers in the products being
18. How do you manage your ingredients?
19. Who are your suppliers?
Figure 8 Layout of Ling Ling Taiyaki
Store appearance is critical to retail sales. (2016, February 9). Retrieved July 7, 2019, from
MATWORKS: https://www.thematworks.com/store-appearance-is-critical-to-retail-sales/
Devaney, E. (2016, January 8). Stores Are Using Music To Make You Spend More. Retrieved
July 7, 2019, from thinkgrowth: https://thinkgrowth.org/stores-are-using-music-to-make-youspend-more-d6c85974b20b
Suttle, R. (2019, February 12). What Types of Business Are Considered Retail. Retrieved July
7, 2019, from Chron: https://smallbusiness.chron.com/types-businesses-considered-retail340.html
Levy, M., Weitz, B. A., & Grewal (2014). Retailing Management (9thed.). New York, McGraw
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