Drizly, the beverage alcohol e-commerce delivery platform that’s in more than 220 markets across North America, saw a massive sales surge immediately after the Covid-19 pandemic unfolded, and that trend continued through mid-May. Drizly experienced a major uptick in sales during the week of March 9, when people across the U.S. first started to self-isolate at home.
“Weekly sales have only continued to accelerate,” says Liz Paquette, head of consumer insights at Drizly. During the week of May 17 sales were up 391% over the expected total for that period. “Drizly has continued to see its biggest day ever in sales each Friday starting March 20, and continuing through mid-May,” says Paquette. She notes that the spike is mostly driven by new customers, who have accounted for approximately 40% of orders—much higher than the usual 15%. New buyer sales, in fact, were up 1,700% in mid-April and hovered at around 500% up in mid-May.
While Drizly is seeing a windfall across most of the U.S., it’s had particular success in the Seattle and Newark, New Jersey markets. And according to Paquette, New York City, Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles were among some markets experiencing the highest week-over-week growth from mid- to late-May. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Drizly is experimenting with a new service: on-demand delivery, which launched in late May. Through partnerships with five local beverage alcohol retailers in the city, Drizly is offering wine, spirits, and beer delivery to customers’ doorsteps in under an hour.
The delivery provider is seeing premium items trending. “Consumers are shifting their purchases to higher-end products,” Paquette says, noting that gin and mezcal in particular are seeing outpaced growth above the baseline. “Liqueurs, cordials, and schnapps, as well as mixers, syrups, bitters, and garnishes, have also been a dominant force on the platform,” she adds, explaining that this is an indicator that people are mixing cocktails from the comfort of their own homes. Additionally, the average order size has been up from an average of 50% higher than baseline ever since March 16, revealing the stock-up mindset among customers.
In wine, Paquette says Cabernet Sauvignons like Josh Cellars are top-sellers. The beer category, meanwhile, is reaping rewards with IPAs, ales, porters, and stouts; these have all experienced 770% growth in sales above the baseline in early April.
As the Covid-19 crisis continues to affect the beverage alcohol industry, Drizly is working closer than ever with its retail partners. “We’ve developed a safer, contactless delivery process,” Paquette explains. “The health and safety of our employees, retailer partners, customers, and community continues to remain our number one priority.” Drizly is ensuring that retailers are properly staffed, and distributors have adequate resources to ship products on time.
For the foreseeable future, Drizly expects sales to keep soaring, and has thus brought on 50% more staff. And the company will continue searching for ways to improve upon delivery times and evolve its online platform. “The future is incredibly hard to predict at this point, but we don’t see this slowing just yet,” Paquette notes.
This chaotic period has been an unexpected boon to the world of e-commerce. “This experience has certainly been humbling,” Paquette says. “But it’s worth noting that we’d trade the growth we’ve experienced for this pandemic never to have existed at all.” She expects the beverage alcohol delivery space will be forever changed by the pandemic, but also hopes that local, independent retailers will stay afloat. “This will lead to a dramatic shift in consumer behavior for the long term,” she says. “The key is to ensure that this business remains with local retailers in a way that protects the integrity of the three-tier system.”
Paquette says the Covid-19 crisis has increased the number of retailers working with Drizly. Retailer partner leads were up 300% at the start of lockdown, and sat at around 150% up in mid-May. “We’ll continue to see expansions on the supply side of the business as more retailers are onboarded to the platform as quickly as possible,” she says.