On-demand delivery service wasn’t part of the initial setup for Molly’s Spirits in Denver, Colorado, when the store opened in 2014, but it didn’t take founder and CEO Rufus Nagel long to realize its potential for driving the business forward.  

As Molly’s director of marketing, Mollie Cook, tells it: “We began offering delivery less than a year after we opened our doors, because we saw it as a way to extend interaction with our customers. Working with Drizly instead of doing it ourselves allowed us to tap into the experience of their tech pros, so we could focus on providing exceptional and efficient service to our customers.”

Today, Molly’s operates two stores in the Denver metro area: The original Lakeside location and a new 25,000-square-foot retail space in Greenwood Village — each shop carries more than 14,000 products. By reconfiguring processes for the original store to optimize online sales, and designing the second location with delivery top of mind, Molly’s Spirits has achieved outsized sales results. 

Staging for Success

Adapting quickly to changes in the market and paying close attention to the buying habits and needs of local customers have been important elements in growing Molly’s business. “This is truly an ever-evolving process, since the environment we are in is constantly changing,” Cook says. “Not only do Colorado’s needs differ from the rest of the nation’s, but the needs of Molly’s customers differ from those of our competitors. It’s impossible to be a perfect national retailer. You need to know your local customers so you can deliver exactly what they desire.”

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Along with a large selection of locally produced beer, wine, and spirits — a Molly’s specialty — the shop’s customers want fast and efficient online ordering and delivery. In response, Molly’s created proprietary processes and systems to help get the largest-possible number of delivery orders into customers’ hands as quickly as they can — all while maintaining excellent customer service. 

“We anticipated delivery becoming a large part of our business, so we laid the groundwork well in advance of the recent delivery boom,” she says. “We made small adjustments to our operations and layout at Lakeside over the years as we gleaned insight, and we even built our second store to accommodate a high volume of digital sales right from the beginning.” 

Using Amazon as a model, Nagel designed Molly’s Greenwood Village store — opened in 2019 — with flexibility and delivery operations in mind. He deliberately chose a location near a highway that would allow easy access to a large number of delivery customers, and ensured that the location included a charging area for the store’s fleet of electric delivery vehicles, so they’re always juiced up and ready to go. A large warehousing space — with a cooler to keep certain items chilled for customer requests — serves as a delivery staging area for staff members.  

“After seeing the efficiency of our second store,” Cook says, “we were able to retrofit our Lakeside location with the key components that drove this success.” 

Molly’s utilizes a proprietary mapping system based on real-time traffic and weather data to optimize delivery. “The live data makes us more efficient by allowing us to organize the order of deliveries that are made on a specific loop, based on all sorts of external factors,” she says. “While all of the orders get delivered within 60 minutes, we prioritize deliveries based on the loop rather than the time it arrived. That way we can be as efficient as possible. It also helps our drivers know which roads to avoid if there is an accident or a traffic jam.”

The maps let staff members track delivery vehicles, so if a customer calls and wants to know when to expect their order, store delivery managers can check the map and provide an accurate arrival time.

“Our staff schedules are highly dynamic and always changing,” Cook says. “Molly’s places a large priority on training our staff in all aspects of the process, and melding staff knowledge with the care for our customer. This has allowed us to pick orders faster, make better staff substitutions, and provide a better experience for our customers.”

This was especially important when the pandemic led to an unprecedented spike in on-demand deliveries. While other stores struggled to keep up, Molly’s was already positioned for success. 

“The changes we made helped to keep our stores open when others had to shut down their operations just to catch up on the backlog of orders,” Cook says. “To us, our customers’ satisfaction is most important, and these changes have allowed us to provide them with more consistency.”

Leveraging Reports and Reps

Cook also credits Drizly reports and the insights of Molly’s dedicated Drizly account representative with helping the team make smart, proactive decisions on the fly. 

“While there are myriad reports that are helpful to keep a pulse on our business,” Cook says, “the most important pieces are the live connections and the relationships with the Drizly team that allow us to figure things out proactively and pivot in real time.”

Ana Tantum, Drizly’s B2B brand marketing manager, recommends that the company’s retailer partners subscribe to the company’s BevAlc Insights weekly newsletter to access category and market trend forecasts, consumer insights and retailer case studies — and that, like Cook, they work closely with their account managers for personalized assistance.

“Account managers are market experts in their respective regions,” Tantum says, “so they have a deep understanding of local market dynamics and consumer behavior, specifically when it comes to e-commerce and delivery.” 

A team from Molly’s meets with the store’s Drizly representative every other week to review existing reports and processes smoothly, and to brainstorm new optimizations. “Allie, our rep, helps us stay on top of our operations by tweaking zones, hours, and pricing,” Cook says. “She is constantly responsive to issues and inquiries, and more importantly, she helps us to be strategic in adjusting to this ever-changing environment.”