- Drinks, a technology company that helps retailers sell alcohol online, has named former Kroger Marketplace head Amber Roberts as vice president of enterprise, according to a press release.
- The adult beverage e-commerce firm has also appointed Blake Hunter, who previously held analytics-related roles at Activision Blizzard and Microsoft, as senior director of data science.
- Drinks is expanding its team as retailers look to capitalize on rising consumer interest in buying wine, beer and other alcoholic products digitally.
Drinks' latest hires reflect the company's efforts to bolster its position as a tech-savvy partner for grocers and other companies hoping to satisfy people's desire to stock up on alcohol without heading to the liquor store.
Roberts brings experience leading strategy and operations for Kroger's expansive digital marketplace, which lets the grocer carry more items online than it stocks in its stores, to her new position at Drinks. In her role as vice president of enterprise for the e-commerce company, Roberts will look to expand the company's "Wine as a Service" platform, which offers retailers an express way to set up and run online alcohol-sales operations, according to the announcement.
Before joining Kroger in 2017, Roberts worked at Italian eyewear company Luxottica and served as an assistant buyer for Macy's, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Drinks, which also offers its customers the ability to use data-analysis techniques to optimize their alcohol e-commerce operations, said Hunter will manage its Drinks IQ system, which uses artificial intelligence to discern market trends and offer insight into shopping patterns. In addition to working at Activision Blizzard, a video game publisher, and Microsoft, Hunter, who has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, taught at Claremont McKenna College and the University of California, Los Angeles, according to LinkedIn.
According to Drinks' website, its ship-to-home technology handles tasks including wine sourcing, tax collection fulfillment and regulatory compliance, and keeps costs to a minimum. The company supports delivery to 42 states plus Washington, D.C., through a network of regional warehouses, and lets retailers sell alcoholic beverages to consumers whether or not they have a liquor license.
Drinks provides service to companies including Thrive Market, Kroger, Boxed and Macy's and says it has the ability to help retailers deliver alcohol to homes in 26,000 U.S. cities.
Beyond building alcohol sales online, grocers are also looking to expand sales of private label alcohol. In April, Albertsons announced that it added sustainable wines from California-based Kalyana to its private label portfolio, and that same month Whole Foods Market began selling a line of house-branded canned draft beers in Texas that it brews in its Houston Post Oak store. Last summer, Walmart relaunched its private label line of wines with a smaller selection, new look and across-the-board $5 price point.