Over the years, New Orleans retailer Brady’s Wine Warehouse has become one of Drizly’s most successful partners in the Crescent City. The store’s path to success was a bit of an anomaly given Louisiana’s legislative history: After joining Drizly in 2015, the retailer was the platform’s only partner in New Orleans, showing impressive gains. Then, in 2018, the Louisiana government temporarily stopped alcohol delivery to evaluate its own processes. When alcohol delivery in the state resumed in fall of 2019, Brady’s was able to quickly ramp back up. 

Now, with years of on-demand delivery operations under its belt, BevAlc Insights wanted to learn how other retailers can replicate the successes of Brady’s Wine Warehouse. We reached out to owner Patrick Brady to glean his tips and advice. Airtight order fulfillment systems and direct phone contact with customers are just a few of Brady’s recommendations for online sales success.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

BevAlc Insights: You were the first New Orleans retailer to partner with Drizly. What prompted you to become a Drizly partner? 

Patrick Brady: Drizly actually found us. It was just a good fit. Our companies were about the same age, and we were one of the only stores that had live inventory capabilities. We were brand new and hungry, like them. 

What was it like in those early months of partnering with Drizly?

We were the only Drizly partner in New Orleans for quite a while before another store signed up. In that time, we were able to really learn about delivery, which took us about two years to really get right. We came to understand the staffing needs on a rainy day versus a sunny day, or during Mardi Gras, or if a local festival was rained out, for instance. 

What are some techniques that retailers looking to increase online sales should consider? 

Anyone getting into the online game, especially the on-demand online game, needs to understand it’s not just something you can phone in. It is a second storefront and must be afforded all the attention and care — and comes with all the headaches and learning curves — of a physical storefront. 

It’s difficult to have one set of inventory for online sales, and another set for in-store sales, without changing the look and feel of your store. So in many cases you’ll be serving the same market you already serve.

What might make a Drizly retailer particularly successful?

There’s probably a way to make every store successful, but the trick is figuring out the correct formula. The variables are: Staff quality and quantity, pricing, selection, radius, and the customer service you can afford to offer. The result is the success you’ll have. What may work in one market may fail in another. 

Personally, I’ve found pricing to be least important. I’ve seen new stores try to offer rock-bottom prices or free delivery, but then the customers discover that that translates to rock-bottom customer service, or to an order hand-off moment that makes them feel unsafe. After that, they appreciate why an order total from one store may be $5 more than from another. 

Have you taken any specific approaches in order to optimize your inventory for success on Drizly?

Over time, we’ve brought in more products that we thought would appeal to a broader customer base, but in each case we always made sure they were products we stood by as a store, and that we were proud to have on our shelves. We will not compromise the integrity of our brand. Customers both online and in person need to always know they can shop with Brady’s and find quality products. 

How can retailers provide an excellent customer experience for those purchasing alcohol for delivery?

On-demand app delivery involves a surprising amount of phone time. We might be trying to reach customers to substitute an item we’re out of stock on, or coordinating a delivery time. Sometimes, someone isn’t home when he said he would be. Each time you speak to someone on the phone is an opportunity to make a human connection in an increasingly digital world. Even smiling when you’re having that phone conversation translates to a better customer experience.

What are processes a shop can put in place to ensure efficient and accurate order fulfillment and delivery?

If it’s a part of your store’s overall delivery process, you need to set up an individual process that everyone knows, understands, and implements. Two or three orders coming in every hour is easy to handle without such a protocol. But having everyone stuck at home during a nationwide pandemic, with orders flying in, that’s another thing. 

At that level, you’re so busy that you need to be able to receive, process, pull, and get orders out the door without error or duplication and without a lot of conversation — just relying on your procedures, processes, and body language. Think of a slammed restaurant kitchen on a big Friday night. 

What kind of feedback do you get from Drizly users, and how do you use that to improve your customer experience?

Out of three pages of customer reviews on our Drizly portal, which covers the past month, there are only 5 out of 5s, save for two reviews. Most of our reviews focus on the excellent service our drivers provide, calling them “above and beyond” and “so nice and accommodating,” or commenting that delivery service is “fast and safe.” 

This excellent service is the reason why customers continue to return to our store when ordering through Drizly. The most we can do with the kind of feedback we receive is to show our drivers what a great job they’re doing.

What do you expect to see in terms of consumer alcohol purchasing in the future, and how can shops set themselves up for success?

I would obviously expect the online ordering trend to continue. I think the most important thing a store can do to set itself up for future success is to realize the full costs of getting liquor to a customer’s door, and to make sure that its prices reflect that cost — or else it will slowly bleed money until it goes out of business. 

What is one beverage, or category of beverages, that every Drizly retailer should carry?

They should carry the items that made them unique brick and mortar stores in the first place. Sure, Tito’s will sell, but someone will always undercut you with products like that, and the product certainly won’t set you apart. 

Each store usually has something that it does really well, and that point of differentiation should be what carries over into Drizly. Even though it’s online, people will still be looking for it, and your store may be the only Drizly store offering it.