This holiday season will be unlike any other due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean gift-giving is canceled. In fact, it’s quite the opposite — with large gatherings curtailed and many employees working from home, customers are looking for ways to send holiday cheer to friends, family, and business associates across the country.

With Drizly’s gift order volume already up 600 percent compared to last year, opportunities abound for the upcoming winter holidays. By anticipating which categories and products consumers will be looking to gift this holiday season, and making those gifts extra special, retailers can successfully drive sales through the end of the year.

Evaluate Prior Holiday Sales

When considering which products to stock for the upcoming season, Kimberly Hedmark, Drizly’s senior manager of corporate business development, recommends looking at the previous year’s top-selling online gift items for inspiration. 

“In 2019,” she says, “Drizly’s best-selling gift subcategories were Champagne, red wine, bourbon, Scotch whisky, and vodka, with an average order value of $50.” The most popular brands included Veuve Clicquot, Möet & Chandon, The Macallan, Dom Perignon, and Johnnie Walker. 

Retailers should also look at in-house prior year sales data in order to pinpoint which categories and brands resonate with their specific customer bases. Though more consumers may be ordering gifts online this year in order to limit in-person shopping, they will likely gravitate towards old favorites. “It’s all about neighborhood to neighborhood,” says Mo Guliani, the owner of NYC Wine & Spirits in New York City. “We know our customers.”

Though this will be NYC Wine & Spirits’ first holiday gift season as a Drizly partner,they have doing on-demand gift deliveries and handling gift orders for neighborhood customers and corporate clients for more than 12 years. 

The store’s most popular gift items are Champagne and high-end bourbons, single malt Scotches, and other whiskies, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Jameson 18 Year. Wine is less popular for single-bottle gifts, but NYC customers sometimes order ultra-premium wines, such as Opus One.

This differs slightly from popular gifts at Corkscrew Johnny’s in Richfield, Ohio, where online gift-givers do gravitate towards high-end wines. “Champagne is by far the most popular gift from November to January, and all the expensive French wines sell extremely well,” says owner Jonathan Kerkian, who notes that the shop sells approximately 30% of gifts through Drizly each year. Premium red wines from Napa Valley also perform well, but Kerkian has noticed that Christmas ales from local brewers such as Great Lakes Brewing Co. and Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. are also popular gifts.

Because the store’s most popular gifts tend to remain consistent from year to year, Kerkian is able to stock his inventory accordingly. “We have sales records from past years with Drizly, so we just plan on some year-to-year growth,” he says. “For example, we typically load up on the Moët & Chandon, Dom Perignon, and Orin Swift wines.”

Look for New Opportunities — and Make All Gifts Special

After signing up with Drizly, Guliani used the platform’s “Top-Selling Items I Don’t Carry” report to add new offerings to his inventory. “We added almost 35 products that we never used to sell in the store, like sake,” he says. “We have a whole line of sakes now that we’re selling on Drizly.”

Guliani also looks at which brands are running paid promotions on Drizly to see which products are likely to see a sales spike. “For example,” he says, “Mionetto Prosecco is running a campaign, so our sales are starting to pick up.”

But successful gift sales don’t stop when the order comes in. It’s important to take the extra step to create an attractive presentation as well. NYC Wine and Spirits staff members include a handwritten, personalized gift card with every Drizly gift order.

“We want to make sure the bottle looks beautiful, so we dress it up with a nice bow or a gift bag,” says Guliani. “If it’s a $20 bottle, it should look like a $60 bottle. Our store name is going with the gift, so we always keep in mind that the customer knows where it’s coming from.” Gift packaging only costs a few dollars, he adds, so a little extra expense goes a long way.

When packaging online gifts, Kerkian uses Drizly gift bags and cards to raise awareness of the store’s delivery service and encourage future Drizly gift sales. If a high-dollar item is too large for a gift bag, he will often take the time to wrap it, and always includes a hand-written gift message when the sender requests it.

While Corkscrew Johnny’s goes out of its way to take care of all of its gifting customers, corporate orders receive special attention. “We make sure that the orders are accurate and on time, and we always include promotional material,” says Kerkian. “I have always recognized how lucrative those customers can be.”