Interview: BevSpot Platform Aims To Be One-Stop-Shop for On-Premise Retailers

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The alcohol industry is quickly digitizing. New programs and platforms help bars and restaurants more efficiently do business. This includes BevSpot, a Boston-based tech company that streamlines bar management processes.

Using the BevSpot platform on a phone, computer or tablet, customers can input inventory, place orders across distributors and import sales data for analysis.

We recently spoke with Rory Crawford, co-founder and CEO of BevSpot, about the product:

CH: How did BevSpot come about?

RC: Six months before attending Harvard Business School, I had started an online wine sales company as a side project. After a few months working on that project I realized two things: 1) There was a significant lack of software to benefit the alcohol industry, and 2) My original idea was not a good business.

During that experience, it became apparent that there was a tremendous amount of value to deliver to the industry by building software specifically for the various parties in the industry, including retailers, distributors and suppliers.

A couple months into my time at Harvard, I couldn’t shake the desire to pursue this opportunity. I decided that the best way to deliver value was to provide a web-based application to help on-premise retailers. Not being a tech guy, I sought out technical co-founders. A few months later I connected with the two most impressive engineers I’d ever met, MIT students Chidubem Ezeaka and Alex Lesman. And in March of 2014, BevSpot was born.

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Rory Crawford, co-founder and CEO of BevSpot

CH: What exactly does it do?

RC: BevSpot started as an inventory-and-ordering platform. We had spoken to many industry professionals who all dreaded the same thing about their job: the archaic, tedious process of taking inventory — counting bottles one-by-one and writing everything down with pen and paper. After finally finishing an inventory, the next step was calling each individual rep to place orders on beer, wine and spirits.

We changed that process with our platform. It enables users to take inventory in a fraction the time on their phones, and then immediately place orders directly through the system across all their distributor vendors.

Over the past year, the product has come a long way. Now users can import their POS sales data and see item-level profitability and variance, optimize drink pricing, and access analytics of the best- and worst-performing products.

CH: How does one use it?

RC: BevSpot is a web-based platform, so users can log in from anywhere—phone, tablet, computer. Our Customer Success team, with the help of technical automation on our end, on-boards all new customers to populate their product information, customize the account for their preferences, and educates the user on all of the product’s features.

CH: How much does it cost to sign up?

RC: Cost is determined based on an establishment’s size and SKU count, but packages start at $159/month. We generally offer a Proof of Concept period to make sure customers love the product and also discounted options to sign up for a year.

CH: Where does BevSpot fit into the expanding alcohol app market?

RC: We don’t think about our product as an app, but rather a platform that incorporates several standalone applications. These range today across online ordering, invoice management, inventory, sales reconciliations, market data reporting, drink pricing and performance analytics.

Our goal is to deliver an all-encompassing platform to help every party within the industry. Our immediate goal is to provide a one-stop-shop for all the needs of on-premise retailers, and then over time expand to offer greater functionality for consumers, suppliers, and distributors.

We now have several hundred paying customers around the world and are adding new accounts every day.

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The BevSpot platform on a mobile device.

CH: What is the demographic of BevSpot users?

RC: We’re proud of the diversity in our user base. We work with national multi-location restaurant groups, hotels, nightclubs, resorts, catering companies and small businesses.

We’ve even helped mom-and-pop establishments that have been around for 30+ years to modernize, which I believe is the reason some of these places are still around. It’s a competitive market. If you don’t make updates, you don’t stick around.

CH: What aspects of BevSpot were altered/changed based on customer feedback?

RC: Everything. Customer feedback is the basis for improvement — on every level. POS integration was probably the most requested thing early on that we had to incorporate, but really there are so many details that have been improved solely based on customer feedback.

CH: What is the future for BevSpot? 

RC: Our capabilities are growing constantly and we’re always taking in feedback from our users. We hear all the time from our customers that they see us as more of a partner than a vendor, which is something we absolutely love.

We are less than 1% along the path towards our goal of delivering software and data applications to change the way every  business (and even consumer) operates in this industry.

This is the way of the future, and it won’t be long before the entire industry is a digital industry. We want to help facilitate that transition in the best possible way for the underlying businesses.

CH: How are apps changing the alcohol industry?

RC: Technology and data is the future of any business. Industry professionals are able to get time back in their day while running a better business overall.

The possibilities are endless as we gain new insights every day: demographic trends for the alcohol industry, who’s drinking what, when, and where? Through various industry apps, we have access to data that can help hospitality professionals on all sides — from manufacturing to distribution, to sales and all the way down to the bartender who’s handing you a drink.

For more information about BevSpot, visit bevspot.com.

Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Cheers Magazine. Contact him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com

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