Imagine this: You are hanging out at a bar with a few friends. You go ahead and order some drinks. Isn’t that normal and boring? What if you could trade the prices of drinks like you do on a stock market? Your favorite beer may cost you more if everyone else likes it too. Oh, maybe you could go for that red wine, cheaper than usual, because no one has ordered it yet. How exciting could your evening get?
The good news is that the Bar Stock Exchange, Mumbai, has made that possible for you. The hero behind this unique idea and implementation is Aurus IT Solutions.
Rahul Dhingra, CEO, Aurus IT Solutions, doesn’t have a clichéd story about how two friends met at a bar and had a life-altering idea about Bar Stock Exchange. This clearly was a case of a well-thought-out business plan. Dhingra and his team found an unharnessed opportunity in the F&B sector. There was an abundance of customers, but no major digital player to cater to them. “Today, there’re people drinking at the bar, but at times there is a pinch in their pocket. So we kind of combined the two. Therefore, the idea was pretty strategic,” says Dhingra.
From there began the journey of building a platform on which a stock exchange-like trading for alcohol can be run. This would later be installed in 40 bars across the globe.
The ABC of trading at BSE
Customers can assess the current price of the preferred drink on LED scrollers installed in the bar or on the restaurant’s app. The drink can also be ordered on the app. The waiter gets a notification on his tablet and confirms the customer’s order. And voila! Your drinks are on the way. This process is pretty much like other restaurants.
The tricky twist is to assess the prices as it is directly proportional to the demand. If the demand for beer is more, its price shoots up. If no one is ordering whiskey, its price spirals down.
There is an entirely different console at the manager’s end. “Managers have the apps and web console to maintain their own menu, pricing, and change the way the pricing controls work. Thus, the operation is entirely self-managed by the bar,” say Dhingra.
Today, the concept is a hit and it has been adopted in countries like UAE, Canada and Russia. But there has been a lot of learning involved. Dhingra first introduced the theme at a pub in Juhu and after a small stint it shut down. Dhingra says that was his learning. “We learnt that we needed to focus on three stakeholders. First, customers should be part of the theme. Second, the bar owner should market the theme well. Third, the staff plays a critical role. Therefore, they need to be trained and the apps have to be user friendly,” says Dhingra.
Analytics brings better beer to your table
Dhingra had it all sorted with the opening of the Bar Stock Exchange pub in 2014 when he launched the bar stock exchange platform. Incidentally, the pub owners decided to name the bar the same as the platform. But now there was another matter at hand—a new and innovative idea like the Bar Stock Exchange generated a lot of data. And if used in an appropriate manner, this data could be very beneficial for the business. Dhingra took advantage of this situation.
His compact team of 20 developers began work on the analytics platform in March 2015. The platform was built with a mix of proprietary and open source modules.
Every morning, the bar owners had to reset the alcohol starting prices manually. The analytics platform helped automate the reset process with prices derived from the data it generated.
“Our engine and prices are influenced by data analytics. The engine is able to forecast demand and therefore allow for better purchase decisions of inventory,” says Dhingra. This also lowers the prices for the end customers, i.e., the bar patrons, resulting in a win-win situation.
Analytics gets your drink faster
The analytics platform’s benefits didn’t end with initial price generation. There was much more to it. Then it stuck Dhingra that BSE’s app could be evolved, courtesy of the analytics platform.
Aurus’ team regularly studied the users’ interaction with the apps and made engine-level upgrades. “Our study pointed out that our first version of the app took five seconds to load. We’ve now dropped this to 1.5-2 seconds with performance upgrades. We now get patrons to their drinks faster,” says Dhingra.
The team could also analyze the time taken by a waiter to serve the drink to the customer. “This report helped bar managers drive more efficiency and productivity and engage the waiting staff to perform better,” adds Dhingra. As a result, drinks were served faster to the end customer.
Hurdles on the road
Today, the benefits of the analytics platform are huge, but all this wasn’t a cake walk for the team. It had its own share of challenges. First was the sheer volume of the data collected. “We reached several million data points every week. We had to architect a separate layer of servers in our network architecture to store and process this data,” says Dhingra. The second challenge was the resource. Third, a real time environment like Bar Stock Exchange needs faster service.
“A lot of proprietary technology was used to make sure the order is serviced fast. We also had to develop services including waiter app, billing system integration, etc,” says Dhingra.
Dhingra backed up the entire system with 24/7 support team. “We have built enough infra to mitigate this risk. Entire platform is hosted on the AWS cloud and more than 10 servers globally placed,” he says.
With an expansion plan in the US now in his kitty, Dhingra’s innovative idea has come a long way in the F&B sector. Don’t you think it’s high time to rush to your nearest Bar Stock Exchange? Keep your spirits high—but keep your eyes on the stock exchange.