E-commerce has spread fast into the alcohol industry. One of the newer apps is BlueCart, which streamlines product orders between restaurants and suppliers. It is free to download and use.
Cheers recently spoke with the BlueCart’s CEO Konstantin Zvereff about the process of launching an alcohol app — of finding tech-savvy users and working within different state laws — and where he sees his product in the ever-growing category.
CH: What does BlueCart do?
KZ: Our app allows restaurants to place all their orders to all their suppliers in one click, and organizes all those orders for suppliers on the other end.
Let’s say you run a bar and you order from five different distributors. Just open up your phone, build your cart, click “place order” and all five of your suppliers will get their specific order automatically simplified and organized.
It’s a private order management tool that was built for both buyers and suppliers. You can run a tiny dive bar in Baltimore, or be a massive corporate distributor in Chicago.
CH: What was the process like of launching an alcohol app?
KZ: It was definitely a learning experience. Before we launched the alcohol part of BlueCart, we had no idea how many complications the industry has to deal with.
From relatively simple things like splitting orders and breaking cases, to complicated dealings with state agencies, we gathered a ton of user feedback to make sure that our app worked well in any situation. It took some time to get it right, but listening to our users was the key.
CH: When did you launch and where?
KZ: We launched BlueCart (formerly under the very difficult name “Improvonia”) in Washington, DC in July of 2014.
CH: How does it make money?
KZ: BlueCart is 100% free to use. Our user base got so large that small advertisements can pay our bills.
Companies like Square, for instance, want to talk to restaurants and suppliers right at the moment when a decision-maker is placing or taking an order, and we can make that happen for them with very simple, unobtrusive ads. Plus, we plan to launch some paid premium features down the road.
CH: What is the differentiator between this and similar apps?
KZ: First, BlueCart is free for both buyers and suppliers. Every other app out there is either charging restaurants a monthly fee, or taking a cut of every order from suppliers.
On top of that, BlueCart was built to help both sides of the equation — buyers and suppliers — do better business. The few other apps that have tried to help manage ordering have stumbled because they tend to favor one side over another.
For instance, some work only for the restaurant and bar side, playing a heavy price-comparison card at the expense of established relationships with suppliers. Others build apps that work only for one supplier, which means the restaurant now has to download a dozen different apps instead of one. Some even highlight price comparison and charge suppliers for the privilege of joining a race to the bottom.