Drizly changes the way alcohol is purchased

By Cindy Atoji Keene
One of Drizly’s tag lines is, “Get the door, it’s the liquor store!” – an apropos statement for this alcohol home-delivery app that makes ordering beer and wine as easy as ordering a pizza. Nicholas Rellas, the co-founder and CEO of Drizly, said just as Uber offers on-demand transportation and Amazon streamlines shopping, this start-up promises to have the liquor of your choice on your doorstep in 30-60 minutes. Drizly works with local stores in the neighborhood – who pay a monthly license fee – to fulfill orders, and delivery drivers authenticate and validate IDs s upon arrival. Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene spoke with Rellas about introducing technology to a highly regulated, fragmented industry.

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“The historic storms that have battered Boston have been a dichotomy for Drizly. On one hand, people don’t want to trudge to the liquor store when it’s cold and snowy out. But conversely, in these kind of blizzards, retailers sometimes have to close shop and delivery times are also longer. Overall, though, sales have been up two to three times higher than we would expect. The service itself sure beats going outside and walking back, carrying back a package. We started Drizly because my co-founder and I wondered why you could get almost anything online or through an app – except for beer. This started us down a path to figure out how to integrate technology into this antiquated business, which has not changed the way it has operated since the Prohibition ended. Dealing with the regulatory complexity in a cost-effective way was a huge undertaking; there are more than 50 sets of laws and tens of thousands of liquor stores all around the country. But once the ball started rolling, wholesales and suppliers have been very forward-thinking. I think you will see the industry start to evolve, but maybe at a slower rate because of the complex nature of the product we are dealing with. Drizly is going to become a more personalized buying experience as it gives Netflix-style recommendations based on your past purchase history and preferences. We know, though, that Drizly won’t necessarily replace going to the liquor store but be a complementary part of that experience. For me, nothing will be a substitute for going into a great wine shop at the South End and having a great conversation about what wine to buy for dinner. Still, if you need a last minute wine or don’t have time to run to the store, Drizly is the app that provides convenience and superior service. My own drink of choice is an ice cold Coors light or a full-bodied, complex Spanish wine. This is one way for sure that we will buy alcohol, now and in the future.

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