The tech firm’s pledge is to have chilled wines, beers and spirits plus tasty nibbles, and now essential groceries too, placed at customers’ doors within an hour or less of ordering. Shoppers are connected via postcodes to the stores nearest to them in the scheme. “We support the high street, don’t undercut it. Average basket spend with Drinkly is three times more for them. We’re the next best thing to drinking in a bar,” says founder and CEO John Robertson who launched the Edinburgh-based operation in 2016 with the aim of opening up a traditional retail sector, largely unaware of the increasing demand for convenience, with digital sales opportunities.
In a UK drinks market forecast to be worth £55.5billion by 2022 and the ecommerce segment £1.6billion, Drinkly is the only platform of its kind in the UK. It now operates from 11 locations, including Glasgow and London, with a plan to have 150 in the fold by the end of this year.
Retailers can be on board within hours, Robertson explains: “All they have to do is provide us with a product, price list and photos. We do the rest. Once live the store manages its own inventory via the retail portal.
“It also gives them the chance to add snacks and other household items they have, especially relevant since the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Our first retail partner who joined us added £110,000 and 25 percent to turnover. We are also seeing 60 to 70 percent repeat purchase.”
Currently wine is the top tipple, followed by beer and then spirits with the mainstream brands proving the most popular.
Offering customers chilled drinks has been a big pull factor for Drinkly, whose clients before Covid-19 were typically the time-poor, under-45 crowd ordering for themselves, for occasions or wanting to get a gift delivered quickly. Since lockdown not surprisingly the demographic has become broader.
Revenues come from 10 to 25 percent sales commission on the products and from insights for brands into consumer buying trends, new product testing and campaigns.
A £562,000 turnover is forecast for this year with the database growing 20 percent a month.
Investment has come from £280,000 through two rounds via Seed Haus, the accelerator financed by a number of Scottish technology and business leaders including BrewDog’s James Watt, and most recently Drinkly’s first £250,000 crowdfunding raise.
“We have aligned ourselves both with global brands such as Heineken and independent craft labels with exclusive partnerships that amplify exposure and our reputation,” says Robertson.
“From the outset we wanted Drinkly to set the gold standard in its field for responsibility. ID checks are conducted as standard at checkout and delivery.”
A mathematics graduate and drinks industry expert previously working for major brands such as Whyte & Mackay and Innis & Gunn, he conceived the idea while studying in the US and just as the on-demand drinks and food delivery category was emerging.
Using available technology creatively assembled and applied, he adds: “Our new platform with iOS and Android has been the biggest development, but we have always taken the line to develop our tech as needed, making the most of resources.
“That has taken us to the best place possible today. Looking ahead we are scoping out product extensions to diversify and enhance our proposition so we don’t have dips in sales throughout the day.”