- Alcohol e-commerce and logistics company Thirstie has announced the addition of new retail partners including Fairway Market Wine and Spirits, Spec's and Sherry-Lehmann to its roster, according to a company press release.
- Thirstie has also appointed several new executives to its team and advisory board as part of the expansion, including a new chief technology officer, head of product, vice president of partnerships and head of finance.
- In an interview with Grocery Dive, Thirstie’s co-founder and CEO Devaraj Southworth said that adding grocers to its network is a major priority as the company moves forward. Southworth expects to be working with 500 retail partners by the end of the year.
Business is booming for Thirstie as retailers zero in on online alcohol sales. The company raised a small Series A round of funding earlier this year, which Southworth said has been used to expand its team and its services. Currently, the company is increasing by five to 10 markets every month.
"The demand has increased probably tenfold in the last 12 months," Southworth told Grocery Dive.
While federal, state and local laws governing alcohol delivery have made adding e-commerce sales a complex process for retailers, companies like Thirstie, Drizly and Drinks have made a business out of managing logistics and compliance. Southworth sees Thirstie as the "connective tissue" that ensures customers have a seamless experience when shopping for alcohol online. This allows retailers to focus on customer service and product offerings.
"The last thing a retailer wants is a cumbersome process," Southworth said.
The growth of Thirstie and other businesses like it has spurred more retailers to look into alcohol delivery and add it as an online option for shoppers. Instacart expanded alcohol delivery to 14 states earlier this year, and Sam’s Club, Thrive Market and Giant Eagle have all recently added alcohol delivery.
According to Southworth, the acceleration among retailers will continue. Right now, he said less than 1% of adult beverage purchases occur online compared to 12% to 15% of other retail categories. But he thinks online alcohol sales could reach 2% to 3% of all adult beverage purchases in the next two to three years, with greater growth long-term. Alcohol sales in the U.S. increased by 5.1% in 2018, according to bw166.com.
One of the challenges for Thirstie and similar companies is to manage demand and make sure that growth is stable and sustainable. Southworth said that while growth is important, Thirstie is trying to expand in a measured manner to make sure it can fully integrate with retailers.