From left to right, Boozebud co-founders Alex Gale, Andy Williamson, Mark Woollcott

Boozebud: The Aussie tech platform revamping the bottle shop experience

The problem with large retailers (some of them) is that they’re very good at creating the illusion of choice. With their large open spaces, banner advertisements suspended all over the shop (literally) and shelves stacked higher than your head, you’d think you were standing in the epicentre for whatever it is you’re looking to buy. But again, it is just an illusion. No matter how much you see in front of your face, you’re actually restricted by the series of distribution agreements they have in place with chosen suppliers who have given it their all to get spot on the shelf. Meanwhile, there’s a big wide world out there, and the online space is doing a pretty good job of exposing this. Startup Boozebud is a perfect example.

Founded by Alex Gale, Andy Williamson and Mark Woollcott, Boozebud is as a technology company that’s revolutionising the way Australians buy alcohol; using smart tech and a disruptive business model. They describe it as an online marketplace — not a retailer — where any producer big or small can list their products for sale. They have over 1,200 products across 300 brands already on the site.

"We love our alcohol and saw a gap in the market for a central marketplace where people could connect with producers."

Andy Williamson says: “My co-founders and I worked in finance where we dealt with a range of online market leaders and emerging ones with a particular focus on online marketplaces. We love our alcohol and saw a gap in the market for a central marketplace where people could connect with producers of all sizes and pick up their favourite booze from Australia and around the world, so we set up BoozeBud.”

Where’s the gap in the market?

Williamson says the purchasing experience is changing in the alcohol industry (a massive AU$22bn market). Consumers are shifting from hero brands and are experimenting across categories and styles.

“We’re seeing consumption of beer and spirits shifting from brand to style, just like wine, and there’s now hundreds of smaller craft breweries and distillers to sample. BoozeBud was developed with this changing consumer behaviour in mind.

“As part of that there’s also been a commensurate swelling of interest in the provenance of drinks. People are interested to know about the producers and how their drinks are made. BoozeBud connects consumers directly with their favourite brands through its producer profile pages and tasting notes, which allow them to explore the story behind the product and the producer’s background,” he says.

“Simply put, the bottle shop model is well and truly broken."

In other words – the likes of Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland, and all the rest just can’t cut it any more.

“Simply put, the bottle shop model is well and truly broken. Bottle shops cannot physically stock a comprehensive range of products, nor do they educate consumers or inspire choice as the range grows,” says Williamson.

How does the business model work?

Crucial to Boozebud’s model is this emerging ‘marketplace’ concept. Williamson says there’s thousands of local breweries, wineries and distilleries that you’ll never see in a bottle shop simply because they’re too small to market and distribute their products Australia-wide. “An online marketplace that’s underpinned by a national logistics network and can aggregate thousands of producers can solve these issues which is literally physically impossible for a bottle shop to do,” he says.  

“BoozeBud is revolutionising the alcohol industry by enabling producers to market and distribute their products across Australia.”

The platform has offerings from all over the world including, Mexico, Scotland, France, Japan, and the US.  

There are challenges, still

As an online marketplace, logistics play a “big part” in the customer experience says Williamson and there are plenty of improvements that need to be made to their warehouse and delivery networks to enhance delivery times. For consumers, it’s about knowing how to navigate the tens of thousands of products – so a focus on creating an intelligent and personalised shopping experience will be the way forward according to Williamson.

A focus on creating an intelligent and personalised shopping experience will be the way forward.

“We already deliver to every address across Australia, but we’re continually listening to our customers to see what we can build upon and improve. We have a few plans in the pipeline, and expansion is definitely part of our long-term vision. As a technology business, the number one thing we are focused on is using smart technology to continually innovate and improve the shopping experience for our customers,” says Williamson.

So this begs the question: Are there any other industries out there crying out for a ‘revamp’ like this?  

Dan Jacobs

Dan Jacobs is the Editor for ShortPress and an experienced business writer across a range of industry sectors. 

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