Minibar: More Than a Drive-Through Liquor Store Substitute

Cloning Your Best Customer BeerGrocery, laundry and food deliveries weren’t enough for convenience-driven, workaholic New Yorkers — city dwellers needed liquor stores to come to their homes, the creators of Minibar told a rapt audience on Tuesday morning at Integrated Marketing Week 2015. So Lara Crystal and Lindsey Andrews built the “Uber for your liquor store,” says Crystal, who co-presented with co-founder and co-CEO Andrews at the Direct Marketing Association-hosted conference held at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York.

“I think this is something the consumer wants,” says Crystal during the session titled “Engagement at Your Fingertips: The Impact of a Mobile-First Strategy.”

She bases her comment on the estimate that the average consumer buys $700 of liquor each year and that as soon as Minibar started offering the marketing technology that united liquor suppliers and buyers, it was clear the app was answering an unmet need. Five days before New Year’s Day 2014, three stores signed on and a beta list of subscribers bought liquor. During Holiday 2013, many liquor suppliers were too busy to talk to them. But by February 2014, Minibar officially launched with many more suppliers. Now those suppliers are seeing a 20 to 30 percent volume growth due to working with Minibar, Crystal says.

When Crystal and Andrews quit their full-time jobs to build the business in August 2013, they thought the mobile app aimed at the city’s professionals buying beer and liquor at night and on the weekends would be the main need they would find. But a website for corporate sales and 20 cities later, they find interest in their service is still growing. Consumers can sign up on a waiting list to bring the delivery option to their city, which also helps Minibar determine where there’s the most interest, Crystal says.

As for where Minibar can’t yet go, Crystal cites cities like Philadelphia — where she and Andrews attended The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania — because the state operates the liquor stores. So far, areas with government regulation haven’t seen the advantage of the service.

As for two other details, Andrews says Minibar can’t control liquor prices and Crystal says the suppliers ID customers upon delivery, as they would in the store. If buyers can’t provide valid ID to prove they’re at least 21, they get charged a restocking fee, says Crystal.

What’s another unanswered marketplace need?

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Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
Publish date: June 10, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT