You drink, they drive: Liquor stores boost sales with delivery

Argonaut is one of several local liquor stores getting into delivery. Photo by George Demopoulos.

Argonaut Wine & Liquor is one of several local liquor stores getting into delivery. Photo by George Demopoulos.

Add a chianti or barrel-aged bourbon to the list of goods you can order online and have brought to your front door, as Denver liquor stores beef up their home delivery services.

Argonaut Wine & Liquor on Colfax Avenue has had a delivery service for years, but it was reserved for large catering orders. Last July, it contracted app company Drizly to handle small-scale requests.

“More and more, people are using electronic platforms to buy everything,” Argonaut co-owner Ron Vaughn said. “This is another example of that.”

Users can download the Drizly app, browse Argonaut’s inventory and place an order from their phones. At the store, a delivery driver receives the request, grabs the order and drives to the customer’s location.

Deliveries take about 35 minutes on average. Argonaut only delivers within a 5-mile radius that includes downtown, the Highlands, Cherry Creek and Stapleton.

“Our goal going into it was to reach consumers that we don’t reach through our traditional advertising platforms,” Vaughn said. “It turned out that about 50 percent of the consumers that were using Drizly appear to have not been Argonaut customers.”

During its first month working with Drizly, Argonaut had about 50 deliveries. In February, the store delivered about 850 orders, or roughly 30 per day.

Delivery drivers are employees of Argonaut, not Drizly. To support the new delivery system, the liquor store bought a vehicle and has hired three drivers since July. If interest in deliveries remains steady, Argonaut may hire more employees in the future.

Photo courtesy of Drizly.

Photo courtesy of Drizly.

Denver is the fourth market that Boston-based Drizly has entered.

“We launched Denver with Argonaut as the first store,” said Drizly Colorado Manager Matt Erley.

The company also covers Boulder and the Vail Valley.

A customer pays a $5 delivery fee to the liquor store for the service. And at the end of the month, the store pays Drizly a licensing fee.

Drizly is looking at expanding its services to other locations around Colorado, including Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Denver Tech Center.

And Drizly isn’t the only app in Denver for ordering delivery alcohol. Applejack Wine & Spirits, along the Interstate 70 corridor in Wheat Ridge, developed its own app for ordering booze to your door four years ago. And the store hopes to roll out an updated version within the next four weeks.

“We’ve been doing alcohol delivery in some form for over two decades,” Applejack CEO Jim Shpall said. “Twenty years ago when we were doing it, we’d be delivering for a large party here or there.”

Now, Shpall estimates that about 80 percent of alcohol deliveries are single customers or families who just want wine or a case of beer delivered to their home after work. Applejack fills dozens of deliveries per day, he said.

Applejack puts a $50 minimum on deliveries. It charges $10 for orders in the metro area between $50 and $100, and orders more than $100 are free.

The shift in delivery alcohol has been fueled by companies like Amazon, Shpall said.

“Retail is all about customer convenience, and one way you establish that is through delivery,” he said. “What’s changed is that people are far more active and have come to rely on and expect delivery for everything.”

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