San Francisco-based Coaster launched a few months ago with a mobile drink ordering app, allowing consumers to place orders and pay for their drinks at select bars without having to wait in line. Since launch, the startup has been slowly adding local venues to the app. But it couldn’t reach them all, so it just released a self-serve iPad app that bars can install on their own.
While getting users to download and try out the app is difficult, the bigger problem that Coaster faced was getting the system in more bars. The local small business market is a tough nut to crack, after all, and it’s nearly impossible to go through the process of going door-to-door to sign on new partners in the bar scene of just one city — San Francisco — let alone wherever bars happen to be, which is pretty much anywhere.
The new iPad app enables bars to roll out the system themselves. They can quickly create their own menus, specifying various drink prices and drink specials. Since Coaster already has a number of different drinks and beers already in the app, most bars will merely need to choose which they’d like to add to the menu, and at what price point. Or, they can fill out their menus with specialty drinks that they price themselves. Once they’re finished, they just save out and their venue will appear on the app.
I’ve written about Coaster before, but mainly I was writing about the value prop for users. That’s mostly the ability to skip waiting in line for drinks and to make payments via in-app purchases, rather than having to open up and close out a tab. Even better, they can pay using credit cards through the app at bars that usually only accept cash.
But for bars, there are numerous advantages as well. Bartenders don’t need to worry about keeping track of tabs and credit cards that users leave behind. Since Coaster users are paying (and tipping) in app, there’s no exchange of money back and forth, even in those bars which are cash-only.
Coaster founder Inderpal Singh says one other advantage is that bars will be able to sell more drinks. First, by decreasing the wait time between orders, and also by making payment quick and easy. But the big reason bars might want to adopt the Coaster iPad app for their orders is that Coaster charges no payment-processing fees — the system is completely free to implement.
The Coaster team hopes that by making the app free, it will be able to get bars to at least test it out. And once it’s done that, it’ll be able to show that it can move the needle by increasing sales and decreasing credit card costs. We’ll see how that plan works out, and how many bars actually try it out, and report back soon.