Cheers! The rise of on-demand alcohol delivery

An 8:00 p.m. wine order from Woolworths-owned Jimmy Brings on Friday night, because BWS couldn’t deliver until the next day, prompted me to investigate what companies in the growing on-demand alcohol delivery space are up to.

Who’s at the party?

Many of the on-demand alcohol delivery players are either startup specialists increasingly acquired by large players (such as 7-Eleven’s acquisition of Australia-based Tipple last year), the online division of a physical liquor store or supermarket chain, food delivery providers such as UberEats, or a service delivering across multiple categories such as PostMates or Amazon Prime Now. Online is growing much faster than physical store liquor sales, which are flat or in decline in a number of markets.

A Slice Intelligence US survey of 65,000 shoppers in 2018 indicated that two of the top 10 online alcohol suppliers in the US are startup specialists, with Drizly at number two and Minibar at number four.

So what’s causing the boom in on-demand alcohol deliveries? A number of specific occasions where the customer has either run out or is just about to run out of booze.

It turns out the UK and US players, in particular, have a good understanding of those occasions and have begun tailoring their product offers, and in some cases, services, to suit.

The late-night occasion

The UK excels in this particular area, and after “all-night drinking” was introduced in 2005, a raft of independent, on-demand alcohol delivery services popped up all over England and Wales. These mostly serve local metro areas, with a standard delivery time of under 30 minutes. Many, such as BoozeUp, are open from 6pm to 6am. Drinks Delivery London delivers 24/7.

Along with alcohol, mixers, cigarettes and tobacco, and snacks, a number of players also provide “extras” such as condoms. Drinks Delivery London also delivers fresh limes, presumably for one’s vodka or gin.

Boozeup’s website has a spin-the-wheel game on its homepage to win a discount on your order. While you’re on the site, Expedia-style pop-ups appear about who has just bought what in your area.

Bevy is typical. Billing itself as “your beverage butler”, it delivers the usual categories in 30 to 45 minutes specifically to two London zones, and features a social wall and a list of publications in which you may have seen them.

The party occasion

Los-Angeles based Saucey caters to parties by providing ice, cheese, chips, nuts, crackers and chocolate accompanying your orders of beer, wine and spirits. Bartenders are even available for booking through their website or app.  

The corporate drinks occasion

Minibar, founded by two New York women in 2014 in what is traditionally a blokey industry, is located in 25 cities and offers spirits, beer, wine, and mixers in under an hour. The Rent-a-Bartender feature can be used for parties and corporate events.

The Minibar app recommends how much and what to order based on what type of event and how many people are attending. You can also set up a recurring delivery service every month in order to keep your corporate kitchen stocked for happy hour. The company is piloting an event-planner application that allows customers to tailor their orders for an event, based on criteria like length of time and number of attendees. They don’t charge a delivery fee, but they do take a cut of each sale from retailers.

Then there’s US-based Klink, which offers drinks based on the customer’s current mood and occasion. Some of the options include “Take it slow,” “Party” or “Dinner”. Depending on the occasion chosen, options are further narrowed down by choices like “Trying to impress a date” or “Having a girls’ night in”. A kind of Spotify for alcohol delivery.

New York-based Thirstie sees itself as a “go-to resource for drinking guidance” and showcases a wide selection of recipes to inspire orders. Craft is an editorial extension, listing drink recipes, wine pairings and bartender trends, and tapping into a community of bartenders for insight. Since its launch, this feature has increased customer engagement with the website by 70 per cent. They also provide tutorials, such as how to set up a SuperBowl margarita and taco bar.

While the basics may be delivering your booze in under an hour, an understanding of the occasions on-demand plays to demonstrates considerable room for upsell and cross sell.

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