For liquor retailers, the shift to delivery and e-commerce has been years in the making, but in recent months, with stores closed due to shelter-in-place directives, customers have come to rely on delivery as a safer and more convenient alternative to in-store shopping. 

“This has dramatically accelerated the awareness and adoption of delivery services by both retailers and consumers,” says Blaine Grinna, director of retailer development at Drizly. “This is not a blip, and has made delivery an essential part of any retailer’s business strategy in 2020 and beyond.”

Fortunately, getting set up with e-commerce and delivery is fast and easy. “Drizly was built to help bring retailers’ shelves online,” Grinna says, “and can enable delivery services for new retailers in a matter of days.”

Here’s how two Texas retailers quickly got up and running with e-commerce and delivery and saw immediate sales benefits.

From Slump to Success

When Ryan Robertson partnered with his father to resurrect a failed liquor store in Austin, Texas, nine years ago, he had no experience in the retail or liquor industries. The new venture, Far West Liquor and Fine Wines, struggled for its first few years until Robertson landed on the idea of delivery service. His first partnership with a local startup didn’t live up to its promise due to its lack of marketing resources, but it showed him the benefits of adding e-commerce to his business. In 2015, Drizly reached out to Robertson and he signed on as a client. 

“We have no tech skills in terms of building websites or internet marketing,” Robertson says, “so when we learned that Drizly could do that for us it was a no-brainer.” 

Far West was up and running with the app in about two weeks, and for most Drizly clients, the onboarding time is even shorter. To get set up, retailers work with Drizly’s team to upload inventory information from their store’s POS systems, so that everything shows up online. 

“They made it easy to come on,” Robertson says. “Drizly has a huge database of UPC codes that match tons of products from everywhere. And if we run out of something and then get it back in the store, we put it in the system and it’s up on Drizly less than an hour later.”

The store’s delivery business soon overtook in-store sales to account for about 60 percent of overall revenue. Today, Far West’s total monthly sales average $100,000. Under the previous owner, sales sometimes didn’t surpass $100,000 in an entire year.

“Our strategy had always been to eventually expand,” Robertson says, “but we were struggling in the beginning to survive as one store. Instead, we just doubled our sales in the same location, without having to deal with the headache of running another store.”

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App Versus App

Randy Johnson, owner of Bear Creek Spirits and Wine near Dallas, was no stranger to e-commerce or delivery when he discovered Drizly. He’d already created a custom app for his store with help of a local software developer, and began offering delivery service for phone orders when Bear Creek opened in 2010.

When Johnson began seeing ads for Drizly on social media, he became curious about the app as an additional revenue source. His brother-in-law — the owner of several Texas liquor stores — told Johnson that he’d seen good results with Drizly, and recommended that he give it a try. Johnson signed up in September 2019, and was ready to start deliveries a week later. 

“It was an easy signup process and they were very helpful in the onboarding,” he says. “And their fees are reasonable.”

Depending on their location, retailers pay a set dollar amount per order, a flat percentage of each order, or a value-based licensing fee. Drizly doesn’t charge sign-up or maintenance fees, and there’s no charge to cancel, so the service is risk-free. 

What Johnson says he likes best about Drizly’s system is that it automatically updates inventory and pricing information every hour — a huge benefit for a store that carries more than 14,000 products. “I don’t have time to go to the computer every time our truck arrives at the back door or a price changes,” he says. With other e-commerce platforms he’s worked with, updates had to be done manually. 

Even better, Johnson saw an immediate increase in orders with Drizly, and a 10 percent bump in overall sales. “Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has really fueled the fire in terms of people wanting to get stuff delivered to their home,” he says, “and we feel like even after COVID dies down, we will have a solid delivery business.” 

While Bear Creek Spirits still does deliveries through the store’s own app, sales through Drizly are far more robust — about 300 deliveries per week versus around 20 with the store app. “All the way around,” he says, “it’s just a better system.