If you happen to wander into the Bandit espresso store in Midtown New York, you received’t have the ability to simply stroll as much as the counter and order one thing. As a substitute, you’ll must obtain a cellular app.
I skilled it for myself yesterday afternoon, after I — together with a number of different clients — pulled my telephone out, downloaded the Bandit app, then used the app to create a profile, order and pay. A pair minutes later, a barista known as me as much as the counter and handed me my (fairly good) espresso.
In different phrases, whereas Starbucks has been experimenting with cellular ordering and fee, Bandit is betting totally on what co-founder and CEO Max Crowley known as a “mobile-only” retailer.
Clearly, this mannequin can result in some preliminary awkwardness, significantly if random passersby don’t perceive it. However there are pleasant Bandit workers members on-hand to assist, and Crowley (who was beforehand the overall supervisor of Uber for Enterprise) mentioned that this mannequin gives a possibility to create “an entire new sort of expertise.”
He pointed to the speedy development of China’s Luckin Espresso as an inspiration, and he steered that finally, Bandit ought to provide clients probably the most handy option to fulfill their espresso cravings: Wherever they’re, they open the app and order the drink they need. Then they’ll instructed when it will likely be prepared, and the place to select it up.
Bandit can’t ship that stage of comfort for many clients fairly but, because it solely has a single location. However Crowley mentioned he’s additionally rethought different features of the espresso store mannequin.
For one factor, this primary Bandit retailer is positioned in what’s primarily a uncooked retail area. Crowley mentioned he’s staff has developed an 11-by-11 foot countertop the place all of the espresso is ready — it’s assembled elsewhere and simply must be plugged in, eliminating the necessity for an intensive buildout.
“We will launch [a new location] in just a few hours, and we will do it at a couple of tenth the price of a standard retailer,” he mentioned.
So the plan is to launch 4 or 5 extra New York shops within the coming months, and to broaden past New York by the tip of the primary quarter of 2020.
Crowley added that by conserving prices down, Bandit can even hold its espresso inexpensive: “I don’t assume an iced latte must be $6 or $7. Our objective is to be inexpensive than Starbucks.” (My espresso yesterday, for instance, price me $2.) It’s additionally experimenting with different pricing fashions, beginning with a $20 subscription that will get you a limiteless $1 drinks for a month.
And if this phone- and pop up-focused mentality sounds somewhat transactional — possibly even somewhat soulless — I’ll be aware that the precise espresso store didn’t really feel that manner in any respect. Whereas the area was a bit naked, it was eye-catching, with a number of giant video games like cornhole set for purchasers. Most significantly, individuals weren’t simply dashing into choose up their espresso — they had been truly hanging out.
“After we did some rudimentary scouting of espresso store places, we noticed that about 80% of consumers are grabbing their espresso and leaving,” Crowley mentioned. “That’s positively core to us, making it tremendous straightforward to seize it and depart, fulfilling drink orders in lower than a minute. All of that mentioned, sooner or later, we’re going to have this portfolio of various sorts of areas, totally different sorts of experiences.”