When two Boston College students ordered a pizza online in 2012, and were curious why they couldn’t order beer in the same fashion, their online liquor delivery company was born.
Based in the Back Bay on Boylston Street, Drizly took off in recent years as one of the top companies to do online liquor delivery working with a vast network of liquor store partners across the country – and particularly in their home of Boston. That said, neither owner could have predicted that such times as these would catapult their business, but also have it become nearly a community service for those who cannot go out – keeping people inside supplied with liquor, beer and wine, while also helping small business liquor stores to continue making sales.
Business is up last week 461 percent, they reported, and what is it people are flocking to buy?
Schnapps, believe it or not, is on the rise.
Who would have thought?
Q: Liquor delivery has been a good business in the last several years and Drizly has been well-positioned. I can only imagine it has really taken off in the last month with the Great Shut-in. I wonder if you have any statistics or numbers in general you can share?
A: Many consumers are turning delivery services as a safer alternative to shopping instore during this time. We first started to notice a discernible impact on Drizly the week of March 9 and have since seen sales continue to accelerate week over week. This past week (without 3/30), sales were up 461 percent over baseline (defined as eight weeks prior – essentially, what we would have expected to see around this time). To a very large extent, this was driven by new customers who have accounted for 40 percent of orders in the last couple of weeks (this is usually closer to 15 percent). New buyers, specifically, were up 1200 percent year over year last week. Overall, consumers are placing larger orders, 25-50 percent larger than normal, which has indicated a “stock up” mentality.
Q: How has the company adjusted to the flood of new customers along with existing customers? Have you expanded quickly?
A: Drizly is a digital marketplace, which means we work with local retailers in more than 180 markets to serve millions of customers across North America. Most stores in our network remain open and our retail partners are working day and night to satisfy the massive influx of orders. We continue to adjust to meet the needs of both our partners and our customers–this has meant hiring new team members, providing guidelines on contactless deliveries to our retail network, building new tools, and more. Additionally, we are also working with a number of new retailers to get them onboarded onto Drizly as quickly as possible so they can begin offering delivery to consumers in their area.
Q: With so many staying home to preserve their health, particularly if they are older adults or health compromised, many have turned to delivery as a lifeline. Delivery like this is a business, but does it almost become a bit of a public service in these times as well?
A: We’re really proud to hear that. We know during these times many consumers are turning to delivery as a safer alternative. Our number one priority is doing everything we can to continue to support our customers, young and old, at this time – and most importantly, doing so in a way that protects the health and safety of everyone involved.
Q: Any funny or unique stories about doing business, specifically delivery business, in this recent climate you can share?
A: The customer love has been pretty awesome during these times. We have had to ask for patience and understanding with new safety guidelines, as well longer wait times due to high order volume, and the response has been pretty remarkable. A really lovely takeaway during all of this – tip amounts have dramatically increased for drivers over the last few weeks.
Q: How important was it that Massachusetts liquor stores were deemed essential?
A: This means we can continue to operate. During a time when many businesses are struggling, this means that our partners can stay open and continue to provide real value on a local level to their customers. Many of our retailer partners are small businesses, and are relying heavily on delivery to stay open as foot traffic is minimal and/or they are opting to close to the public for in-store service. We were glad to see liquor stores deemed essential so we can continue supporting retailers during this unprecedented time.
Q: Any interesting things to point out from your experience operating during this incredibly different time?
A: Some additional facts that we found interesting throughout this are:
•From a categorical perspective, consumer shopping patterns have not changed dramatically – at least from a categorical perspective. Red wine continues to be the number one seller on Drizly (with Cabernet Sauvignon being the top varietal), followed by white wine, vodka, bourbon, hard seltzer, alternative whiskeys, and tequila.
•We have seen some of the smallest growth in the champagne and sparkling wine category – this could likely be attributed to the decrease in corporate ordering, as buyers for this category tend to skew towards corporate order or gifting use cases.
•Liqueurs, cordials, and schnapps continue to see outpaced growth, with a major increase this week in particular, which is a potential indicator that folks may be experimenting with recipes or stocking up their bar cart while they’re home.
•Beers are also making a comeback– with IPAs, ales, stouts and porters all at 740%+ growth in sales above the baseline.