Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 23, 2013

Taking eStock

Taking eStock: App lets businesses track inventory via phone

By Dustin Luca

---- — Dylan’s Bar and Grill has found a new way to keep tabs at the bar — the bar’s inventory, that is.

The Park Street restaurant has teamed up with a software engineer with Department of Defense experience to create a new Apple iPhone application designed to help bar owners and managers keep track of their current stock, record what products are moving and monitor inventory loss.

It’s called Taverntory and it’s made taking inventory faster and easier.

Dylan’s bar manager Jeannie Cahill said the collaboration started after Kumar Babu, the owner and manager of Ccuneus Solutions, stopped by the restaurant for lunch and asked about restaurant’s operations.

“He said, ‘If there’s one thing you could do and have made easier, what would it be?’” Cahill said. “I said, `Inventory.’”

Cahill and Dylan’s owner Sam Petrovich run inventory once a week. In the past, it has involved writing down individual item numbers based on a 13-character bar code, counting how many of each code exists, then typing it into a computer program.

Now, Cahill simply pulls out her iPhone, scans the bar code on a bottle, uses a “spin wheel” to enter how many bottles of that item the bar has on hand and then moves on to the next item.

The data is uploaded securely to the bar’s account on the app’s online website. Inventory counts are provided in spreadsheet form, Babu said.

Beyond the basics, the app is tied to a database of information, so every bar code that is scanned automatically correlates to the product’s brand, name, price and type, be it beer, wine or liquor. The spreadsheet also calculates how much money the bar’s stock is worth at any given time as well as its categorical makeup and more.

There’s plenty of opportunity to grow the database, Babu said. If someone scans in an item that isn’t already included in the database, the individual can manually input the specifics of the product and that information will be automatically available to app users going forward.

Testing for the app took place both at Dylan’s and at a Sheraton hotel in India, Babu said. And although the app is only recently launched, it’s already being used globally.

While the app was originally created with bars and taverns in mind, Babu said he envisions it helping other businesses as well. He said hair salons could be a natural for the app to assist them in ordering supplies and retail products.

“In the storefront, they have all these things with bar codes and, in the back, they have all their shampoos,” said Babu of a salon in downtown Andover that he sees as a prime candidate for the app.

Babu, who lives in Andover with his wife, Sharon, drew on his experience with the Defense Department in creating an app that he says is easy to use. While he can’t disclose the work he did with the federal agency, he said a critical internal aspect to its software engineering is that all programs and utilities must be intuitive enough to be used by an eighth-grader.

Petrovich attested to its ease of use, adding that if he could master it, “anyone can.”

“I’m not an iPhone person. I have one and use it as a phone,” Petrovich said. “I’m a paper guy, but this is the new century of doing work. It was exciting to get into the next step down the road of communication.”

The Taverntory app sells for $99.99 on the iPhone’s built-in application and music market. Babu said the price is considerably less than others on the market, including $900 and $1,500 options.

Babu said it’s becoming such a preferred alternative that larger companies and chain businesses have reached out to him for licenses.

“I never thought that bigger companies would be interested, because this was designed for a mom-and-pop kind of thing,” Babu said.