Abdo Korin, owner of Adeline Market and Liquor in Oakland, California, remembers his first Drizly delivery order two years ago like it was yesterday. In his excitement, he actually forgot a bottle, but he promptly returned to the store, grabbed the missing bottle, and delivered it to the customer.

“It was a success and I loved it from the start,” he recalls.

This commitment to making sure the customer ends up happy and satisfied, no matter what, is the guiding principle of Adeline, which has a stellar 9.9 store rating on Drizly and was presented with a Customer’s Champion Award in Drizly’s 2021 Top Shelf Retailer Awards.

Incredibly, Adeline’s customer service didn’t waiver last year, even throughout the bevy of unique challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. If anything, it provided a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition. Despite inventory shortages, Adeline worked tirelessly to procure the products their customers wanted, keep them in stock, and deliver them on time. Perhaps most importantly, if they ever did fall short, they always made it right. 

Going the Extra Mile — or 100

When the pandemic hit, Korin, who runs Adeline with his brother Bakr, says the store went from one to two deliveries a day to over a whopping 100 deliveries a day. Yet perhaps even more indicative of their success is the fact that they deliver all across the vast Bay Area. Based in Oakland, Korin’s team is often making deliveries to nearby San Francisco and as far as Santa Rosa and Napa, which are both an hour’s drive away, without traffic. 

With that many delivery orders to fulfill daily, one might assume that, naturally, Adeline’s customer service and delivery efficiency would take a hit, but Korin has worked hard to ensure the store keeps its near-perfect rating. To keep up with demand on weekends, for instance, they added two or three more drivers.

Communication was also key. Korin has frequent meetings with his drivers, reiterating that “the customer is always first,” and citing the importance of “getting them the right products, and being there at the right time.” 

“When they get there, I tell them to keep smiling, to always say ‘Have a nice day’ and ‘Thank you for your business.’ Stuff like that,” says Korin. “If there are any issues, we’ll make it up. If they say the beer isn’t cold, I switch it out immediately to make the customer feel special.”

This strategic communication extends to Adeline’s customers as well. “If I’m running late, I’ll text the customer and say, ‘Hey, I’m running late, I’ll be there in 10 to 15 minutes.’ When I get to their address, I say, ‘Hey, I’m outside or downstairs.’ I let them know that I’m there. That’s always what we do,” Korin continues. “A lot of people, when they do a scheduled order, it’s a gift for someone else, so we text the receiver to let them know they have a gift order and that I’m outside, it reassures them.

Hyper-Optimizing Inventory for their Customers

Korin spends time every day – sometimes three to four hours — working on adding inventory and ensuring that their system is up to date with what they have in stock. “We focus on what sells on Drizly, what items people are looking for. We have a lot of items that other stores don’t have,” he says. “I research what sells and what doesn’t, and if a customer asks for something, we definitely get it.”

This job became especially difficult during the pandemic amidst widespread product shortages. “I saw stuff that I’ve never seen in my life,” says Korin. “There were orders over $300 to 400 and people were buying cases, not bottles. It was a really difficult time to get products in and we were selling out a lot.” 

So what to do? While most business owners might have resigned to the reality, Korin had an employee driving all over northern California, attempting to pick up extra stock from local vendors directly.

A Little Something Extra

Despite their best efforts last year, Adeline still had to break it to some customers that they didn’t have the specific item or items they were looking for. But they also never let the conversation end with the customer simply walking out the door empty handed.

“We always look for a similar product. Let’s say there’s a Chardonnay that’s $19.99, and we run out of it. We always go for a similar product with the same year, same price. The first option we give them is this one, but if they want something else, we try to make it happen,” explains Korin. “If it’s a few dollars difference, we can waive it. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s our mistake that we don’t have it, it’s not on them.”

They’ll even sometimes throw in extra freebies, like a bottle of beer, to make the customer feel cared about. “When we tell them we’re out of something, it’s never like, ‘We’ve run out, do you want this? If not, you can cancel your order,’” says Korin, who truly believes it’s these small gestures that lead to repeat business and the store’s slew of five-star reviews.

“‘The best store in town,’ ‘The fastest delivery,’ ‘Two brothers always working hard’ — those are the types of comments I’ve been seeing a lot,” he says. “There were a lot of challenges last year, but we made it and we’re here.”