Please critique my small offline business idea.

by condra
14 replies
Hi everyone.

I'm hoping sommeone might have a minute or two spare to give me some feedback on what is still only a seedling of an idea for an offline sole-trader business.

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Firstly, (and briefly), some important background info.. I have some ongoing health problems, which have alleviated in recent months, so I'm considering returning to work, and hoping to set up a small business, which doesn't require a lot of physical work or stress, outside of driving a small van.
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I've thought about things like mobile locksmith, florest, and others but I am most enthused by the idea of setting myself up as an on-demand wine delivery guy, "wine on wheels" if you will..

The Wine Guy

There is nothing comparable in my city, despite the fact that it is one of the most ... ahem.. thirsty.. cities in Europe (Dublin, Ireland)
Sure, there are wine stores which deliver, but nothing "spontaniuos".

I also believe my background in media (web/radio) would help me get some free exposure, from skills as well as contacts.

I would have stock in my home, and in the van. When appropriate, I would also upsale with things like cheese, cigars, books, bottle openers, poker chips and other party paraphanalia.

I could offer a discount for orders with 24 hours notice, but would be prepared to work nights, as I am a night owl anyway.

As far as I know, I'd have to stop delivering at the same time as pubs/clubs stop serving alcohol here, so that is a potential obsticle, though the whole concept is more "wine and cheese" than "fags n booze"..

Obviously, if I went ahead with this idea, I would invest a lot of time in researching wine, etc.
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Before taking the idea to the next level, what obsticles should I consider, early on?

Has anyone any experience with a small delivery business, or selling wine, alcohol or specialist consumables?

Could there be a wider audience that I might target, apart from residents, such as wedding venues, wedding planners, art galleries, etc..???

Thanks for any thoughts, be they suggestions, encouragement, or cold harsh reality!
#business #critique #idea #offline #small
  • Profile picture of the author Andrew H
    Sounds like a good idea.I know here in Canada it is near impossible to get a liquor licence for opening a 'cold beer and wine' (ie: a liquor store). So I feel your number one obstacle would be getting licensed. If you can get past that, and implement the right marketing I feel this could be a good small business.
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    • Profile picture of the author condra
      Thanks everyone for the replies.

      Originally Posted by mcflause View Post

      So I feel your number one obstacle would be getting licensed.
      Yep, apparently it might be an insurmountable obstacle. I'll have to look into it more but it seems new liquer licenses are a rare thing these days in my country.

      Originally Posted by swilliams09 View Post

      If you can't get licensed, can you partner with a liquor store or several stores to sell the product and only charge for the delivery?
      I had thought of it, but it wouldn't be worth it in my opinion. The appeal of the main idea was the great markup on fancy wine.


      Originally Posted by vndnbrgj View Post

      Can I ask why you chose mobile wine delivery?
      It's not something I've chosen, but was sort of "ahead of the pack" from a handful of ideas.
      The idea came from researching various delivery services in operation in USA, and trying to find some that might not have been fully exploited yet over here.


      You don't want physical work but are going to lug around cases of wine and other add-ons.
      I can handle that sort of exertion. Being outdoors a lot or on my feet for hours on end would be much more strenuous.

      You don't want stress but you will be dealing with lazy drunk people.... (predominately)
      I could be wrong, but that doesn't sound like it fits your mold....or much fun....
      You have a point about drunk people, and dealing with "the public" in general. Not everyones cup of tea, but certainly less stressful than having to concentrate at a computer screen for long hours. That kind of work/stress really kills me.


      Originally Posted by TyBrown View Post

      Not being a drinker myself let me ask, what is the benefit to the consumer? I mean obviously someone bringing something to your house makes your life easier and that would be the case if someone was dropping off toner, Carls Junior, T-Shirts, snow tires, or anything. But is there enough demand for someone needing to get their wine delivered?
      The difference in my mind is that wine may be something that someone would want very spontaneously, at all hours, and might splash out on. Also, as I wrote above, the "wine guy" concept seems to be working on several American cities already.
      ____


      Anyway, cheers again folks.

      It looks like I might have to evolve the idea, or start from scratch, because the license thing will probably knock it on the head, unless I can find some information about a specialist/limited license for wine/craft/luxury items... digging right now..

      I'll gladly consider any further suggestions. Cheers
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  • Profile picture of the author swilliams09
    If you can't get licensed, can you partner with a liquor store or several stores to sell the product and only charge for the delivery?
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  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    Can I ask why you chose mobile wine delivery?

    You don't want physical work but are going to lug around cases of wine and other add-ons.
    You don't want stress but you will be dealing with lazy drunk people.... (predominately)
    I could be wrong, but that doesn't sound like it fits your mold....or much fun....
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  • Profile picture of the author TyBrown
    Not being a drinker myself let me ask, what is the benefit to the consumer? I mean obviously someone bringing something to your house makes your life easier and that would be the case if someone was dropping off toner, Carls Junior, T-Shirts, snow tires, or anything. But is there enough demand for someone needing to get their wine delivered?
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    • Profile picture of the author abbot
      Banned
      Something like this is not as simple as you think it is.

      Now...I'm not familiar with your laws there, but in the US you would need a license. It's not easy to get one, in fact it's VERY time consuming and 'hard' if you will...

      Where I'm from, you need to be insured for the state to even consider licensing you. Insurance is NOT cheap.

      I personally, would never own, or operate any type of business that serves alcohol.
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  • Profile picture of the author mrmatt
    I don't know about Ireland but in Oregon there is a ton of mark up in wine. 100%-150%.

    Personally, if I were just starting out on this journey I would not want to invest a bunch of money in buying and stocking wine, cigars, cheese etc. Especially cheese.

    I would create a relationship with local retailers where you would be able to buy the stuff at a nice disount but they would still be making some profit. They more or less would act as your distributor.

    There is a company where I live called Muffins on the Move. They deliver take out. The restuarants pay $5 per delivery so it is no cost to the consumer. Drivers make tips.

    Good look with business idea.
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    • Profile picture of the author umc
      There is a local business that has some sort of folding scooters. They drive people home from bars in the customer's car with the scooter in the trunk, drop them and the car off, then head back on their little scooters for the next opportunity. I thought it was a cool idea. They were doing really well at one point. Don't deliver the booze, deliver the patrons back home.
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      • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
        Sorry, it is not a good idea.

        When you think of things which are delivered eg flowers, Take-Aways, etc it is the retailer you phone not the delivery person.

        The delivery person is simply a low paid student fulfilling the existing order.

        If you personally owned an off licence then it is something you could trial but I take it that you don't.

        So if I want a particular Rioja you would somehow have to phone around and find a bottle, then go and get it, then deliver it to me all for what? A £1?

        Dan

        PS: I do however commend you upon researching what goes on in The States as invariably some of it does come over here after a few years. eg Smoothies have made some people multiple millions after having them in California decades ago and those scooter things and wheelies all kids had a few years ago also came from some people spotting lots of American kids with them.
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  • Profile picture of the author WalterW
    I think its a risky idea, you need to buy all the stock, it might go bad too (cheese..)

    In my country there are stores that act as alcohol warehouses, you can buy even 1 bottle there. I think best bet would be to team up with them, to test things out that way with very little risk.

    Another approach to this would be to setup a web page and get exposure to the webpage by your radio contacts. People could input an order on the web page.

    To monetize this you would offer 24/7 liquid stores (if there are such in your country) to buy a monthly subscription to view the orders. The important thing (IMO) is to not deliver those things yourself, because you will have to turn down so many orders that the radio exposure would go to waste. So you could offer some students to deliver the bottles and get a share of their profit too, or ask for a signup fee.

    So it would work something like this: Someone puts in a order, liquid stores makes "bids" on the order (how much will they pay someone to deliver it, etc) and the student deliverers takes the bids (or not). Then they just deliver the bottle and get paid.

    Also, because of radio exposure all the parties involved would be contacting you and ask to do business with you.


    I think the problem with doing what you want to do in the OP is the fact that there actually is not such a big margin, because you have to pay more (legally, I think) to people that work nights, there is gas, and you will be running from one place to another, making very little a hour.

    Honestly I think there is not much $ to be made at this, and would be very stressful.

    Even with my idea, there are many issues, such as how the cash is processed, if you take CC's those are extra fees, also drunk people might need multiple times to input all the numbers right
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  • Profile picture of the author rob19028
    I like the locksmith idea. It is easy stress free work and it is easier to a business like this started. Triple A and other auto clubs are always looking for contractors. This gets revenue coming in immeadiately and gives you time to build relationships that will give you residual business. Lots of options past the van too if you decide to grow larger...but you never have to add that stress if you are happy staying small.
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  • Profile picture of the author jherewini
    There were a few things that stood out for me in your post, first challenge to overcome if you were to carry stock is a liquor licence, the second challenge that would present itself is the storage space for your wine, that would also mean having a variety of wines in red, white and sparkling.

    which means you would need to carry a wide variety of dry white wines, then medium white wines, sweet white wines. the same applies in your red selections and your sparkling wine variety.

    You can overcome these challenges by talking to a wholesaler they will carry the stock and licence requirements for you, and would be happy to work with you because they want to move the stock off their floor.

    I would set up a mobile website and take your orders online and capture their email and mobile phone numbers for future promotions by QR code, email and text message. The idea here is to leverage providers of the goods you want to promote with out the need for you to carry stock in your home.

    or another option to consider is drop shipping
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  • Profile picture of the author squadron
    Originally Posted by condra View Post


    Could there be a wider audience that I might target, apart from residents, such as wedding venues, wedding planners, art galleries, etc..???

    Thanks for any thoughts, be they suggestions, encouragement, or cold harsh reality!
    I guess what you could do is set up a 1 or 2 page web site, throw a few hundred dollar at Google Adwords and see what happens. If the phone starts ringing consistently then do it

    If you want to make some decent money, consider becoming a professional gardener. That's gardener, not lawnmower guy.

    In Australia, at least, gardeners make decent money with $35 to $55 per hour being achievable.

    Good luck with your business
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    Contact wineries and set up a home party business. You network and have people invite a few friends for a wine party. You or get a sommalier to sample the wine, the people can go online and order direct, and you get a commish. A group of 10 people may rotate as hosts for a party every other month or quarterly. You'd be selling off the winery license who may be able to ship wine. Good residual income and a fun time while selling.
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