If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of not being able to find that one bottle of wine or six-pack of beer you had that one time and have been searching for endlessly ever since, things are about to get a bit easier for you. BevQuery is a free app that connects retailers with distributors to determine availability of beers and wines across the state.
“The idea for BevQuery came about rather simply after experiencing again and again how hard it is for beer and wine consumers and retailers to find specific products locally,” says Founder Steve McIntosh. “If you’ve ever tried to find a bottle of wine someone recommended to you, you know what an awful pain in the ass it can be. I knew there had to be a better way to shorten the distance between consumers and the products they want to buy.”
With over 70,000 beer and wine products registered for sale in Ohio, and the average retailer having space for about 500, it’s often like finding a needle in a haystack.
“But just because they don’t have it, doesn’t mean they can’t get it for you,” McIntosh says.
BevQuery pulls information from a database comprised of two sources, the first being the State of Ohio. In order to bring any beer or wine product into the state, the Department of Liquor Control requires a filing. Those filings establish the presence of a beverage in the state, and which distributor represents the product in a given county.
The second source is distributors themselves.
“We have distributor clients who would prefer to have more control over the data that is reflected through BevQuery,” McIntosh says. These distributors can pay a monthly fee to contribute their own data to the app.
The experience of a retailer in Cleveland using BevQuery perfectly outlines the full lifecycle of the system.
The retailer received an email from a customer with a picture of a bottle of wine and the subject line of “Can you get this?” The retailer typed the wine’s name into the BevQuery app and was routed to a distributor in Cincinnati. The distributor checked his inventory and quickly got back to the retailer to say the wine was in stock and cost $27.99 per bottle. The retailer relayed this information to the customer who said he’d take six bottles. The retailer placed the order through the app and the customer’s wine was delivered with their next shipment.
“The lifecycle of a query doesn’t necessarily need to conclude in an order but it can,” McIntosh adds.
He hopes BevQuery can chip away at the growing direct to consumer sales in the beverage industry. When the recession hit, wine sales for bottles over $30 fell off a cliff and retailers couldn’t afford the cost of carrying that kind of inventory. McIntosh says retailers are finding that those high dollar value sales haven’t come back, but in reality, they are now happening online to the tune of $1.84 billion last year.
“In a world where commerce is increasingly going to the internet, one of the things that BevQuery strives to accomplish is to reclaim some of that inertia for local merchants,” he says.
The app can be helpful to a variety of merchants.
“This includes anyone who can buy or sell from the wholesale trade – wine and beverage shops, sommeliers, restaurateurs, bar operators, and so on – even grocery stores,” McIntosh says.
With development help from locally-based Base Two, BevQuery launched last fall and has since received over 5,000 queries. The app has found traction locally with grocers like The Andersons and Weiland’s Market, and retailers like Twisted Vine, Gentile’s, Hausfrau Haven, House Wine and The Barrel & Bottle.
More retail partners isn’t the only expansion plan for McIntosh and BevQuery.
“It’s not only scalable into other states, but it’s scalable into other industries,” he says. The platform could also be applicable to luxury goods retailers or, “Any industry where brand distribution or representation is protected,” McIntosh says.
For more information, visit bevquery.com.