Home delivery of beverage alcohol shifted into overdrive this holiday season. Retailers ramped up services to meet consumer and social needs amid the threat of a growing pandemic. “Home delivery sales have been exceptionally robust during the holiday season, progressively increasing with traditional holiday business surges,” says Sandra Spalding, director of marketing at Austin, Texas-based Twin Liquors. “In 2019, 20% of our stores were online. In 2020, 100% of our stores are online with our Twin Liquors app and holiday 2020 online sales have multiplied accordingly.”
In response to Covid-19, Twin Liquors increased its delivery footprint substantially and shored up retail staffing to meet growing orders and adding delivery drivers. “Twin Liquors—including our Sigel’s brand in Dallas—delivers out of more than 100 locations across Texas, spanning across Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and many of the communities between,” Spalding says. “Last year, we were in a few pockets in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, delivering out of just a dozen locations.”
Popular brands leading the delivery charge at twin Liquors are Tito’s vodka (18 a 750-ml.), Bulleit Bourbon ($35 a 1-liter), Maker’s Mark ($24 a 750-ml.), and Jim Beam ($16). “Our online ordering is fulfilled out of our retail locations,” Spalding says. “Our employees know their customer, so they can make recommendations and personal shop for customers too, even online.”
Westborough, Massachusetts-based Julio’s Liquors experienced a 43% increase in home delivery orders in 2020 from 2019 and consumers are spending more per order than they are in-store. “The average online order is $128, up 50% compared to last year,” says Julio’s owner Ryan Maloney. “A regular order is $65 overall.”
During the holiday season, Julio’s has been trending at approximately 75 deliveries a day, up from about 50 a day prior to Thanksgiving. Located in the metro-west Boston area, Julio’s delivers to a 10-mile radius. “We haven’t hired anyone new for delivery,” Maloney says. “We were able to reconfigure because it’s really difficult to hire someone and train them during the pandemic.”
Home delivery of beverage alcohol requires some heavy lifting from retailers to meet logistical and regulatory responsibilities. “There are impediments to the delivery of alcohol not present with the delivery of other goods and services,” Maloney notes. “If I come to your house and you’re not there, I can’t deliver. At that point, we run into some problems. Do I recharge the delivery fee? Do I come out again and deliver it? Even with the delivery charge, it isn’t conducive to make multiple deliveries to the same address.”
Twin Liquors has a robust platform to meet compliance. “Because we fulfill our deliveries via our retail locations, we have more direct communication with our customers and head off most issues,” Spalding says.
At Julio’s, beverage alcohol delivery drivers are required to track and record all transactions. “We want to make sure they’re of age and the correct person is getting the order,” Maloney says.
Maloney has faced obstacles with customers who forget about the pandemic. “People sometimes invite me to come in, so they’re missing the point,” he says. “I have a mask on and gloves and have hand sanitizer. Some people will open the door with no mask on and try and grab the order from me.”
Alcohol home delivery, nevertheless, is here to stay and retailers plan to continue meeting demand. “As with all online business, we expect this to continue growing,” Spalding says. “Twin Liquors will continue to grow our platform and will constantly work to improve the user experience.”