In March of 2020, the Covid-19 lockdowns and stay at home orders made online beverage alcohol sales soar 240%, and the growth continued through the year. The sudden shift in consumer behavior and regulators loosening restrictions shifted the whole beverage alcohol eCommerce landscape, leaving some producers and retailers scrambling to catch up.
Devaraj Southworth, CEO of Thirstie says that they had projected these levels of alcohol eCommerce adoption, just not this soon. “The pandemic has definitely moved alcohol beverage and the viability of eCommerce, probably accelerated it by at least five, maybe ten years,” says Southworth in a WIN Insider interview (full video interview above). Since the reopening began, “The numbers have come down slightly, not much. I think that the shift is here to stay.”
This shifting landscape presents a compliance and competitive challenge, especially for small brands to serve consumers in the way they are becoming accustomed to, but it also offers new opportunities for brands to forge a deeper connection and understanding of their customers with eCommerce solutions.
“The democratization of the industry is important for me and to ensure that these smaller brands have the ability to be able to have compliance to sell their product in a highly compliant way,” says Southworth, and he points to examples of brands having success using Thirstie’s data solution to get a clearer picture of their consumers and using that knowledge to target them with offers that appeals to them.
“Some of the most successful programs we’ve seen have been using the 2-hour delivery window, […] and offering limited edition, limited time offers to consumers they potentially can’t get anywhere else,” says Southworth.
“We had a brand recently, they had the data to understand what their consumers looked like, they put geo targeted ads in Miami, New York City, and essentially the message was ‘start Memorial Day right,’ get your favorite tequila in two hours before the long weekend. They had the highest conversion rates ever on ads on their checkouts.”
The challenge is to connect with consumers through the wholesale channel in a compliant way, and to achieve that, Thirstie contains the entire shopping experience within the brand domain, so that the brand can control the shopping experience, leverage storytelling, and own the shopping cart data that is invaluable for understanding consumer behavior. The solution also benefits the consumer, who gets the convenience of eCommerce and local retailer fulfillment, as well as interacting with the brand that they know and love.
Watch the video above for the full interview with Devaraj Southworth on the challenges and opportunities of the shifting beverage alcohol eCommerce landscape.
By Kim Badenfort