PROS AND CONS OF
Third Party DTC WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN
he people have spoken, and this is what they want — nay expect — from suppliers these days: Delivery direct to their door.
However, considering the fact that nationwide direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping remains elusive, the regular consumer probably doesn’t realize the difficulty faced by distilleries or spirits brands who try to fulfill said wish. Fortunately for both parties, new third-party companies have been cropping up or expanding their services so that they can deliver spirits directly. As with most new trends within an industry, though, using these services isn’t always a direct pathway to success or ROI, and many still have minor hiccups that participating business owners should be aware of.
ONLINE MARKETERS First up are websites that give the illusion of an online retail store. There are rows of products grouped together by category, reminiscent of the shelves at your local bottle shop, and some sites offer deals or commentary on individual brands or distilleries. Just as you can probably get an employee to talk to you about what they’re currently drinking, certain examples of these kinds of sites will offer a similar promotion. This version remains compliant with the three-tier system. The way that these sites fulfill orders is usually by working with a retailer who themselves works with a distributor; essentially, when a customer purchases a bottle through the site, that sale goes to the retailer 72
in question, who then sells it to the third-party site who can ship it to the customer and collect a small marketing fee. There are intricacies and approaches unique to each company, but in essence they are really more online marketers than retailers.
RESERVEBAR Reservebar is one of the better-known online sellers for spirits producers that offers to ship to a customer’s home. To be featured on their website, producers must first shell out a considerable fee. A description of the product is included on the page, as are aromatic and flavor notes, cocktail suggestions, and the product origins, but the page where the product is listed reflects the Reservebar brand and look. Reservebar has positioned itself as a provider of luxury bottles, and while they list items
like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, they do so at a higher-than-average price. They’ve become better known as the purveyors of rare and fine spirits, as well as offering upscale accoutrement like personal engravings on the bottles or crystal glassware. Their shipping is very efficient and straightforward, but using the site is not without significant cost for both suppliers and customers.
CURIADA Curiada is one of the newer companies that provide a platform online for distillers and brands to sell; they started just last year right after the beginning of the pandemic. Launched by industry veterans Adam Caplan, Joey Robinson, and Joanna Franchini, Curiada is meant to be part online marketplace, part curated
collection of spirits. They aim to connect curious drinkers with lesser-known producers that don’t often have an easy way of listing with traditional retailers because of their craft nature, meaning small production volume and even smaller marketing budgets. This mission was inspired by the founders’ experiences working with the big companies in distilling, where they witnessed first-hand the uneven nature of our industry, and began to ruminate on ways to correct that imbalance. “What we saw was that there’s every advantage under the sun to the largest players, be that the three-tier system and regulation, be that the way that the distributor tier is structured,” said Caplan. “Be that the marketing budgets and what’s available to the largest players.” Curiada requires all spirits they list to first be tasted by their in-house testers for quality and flavor, and they pride themselves on keeping their selection relatively modest, as the curated part of their approach really is their USP. But once a brand makes it onto their site, a consistent effort is made to share and emphasize all the value that they have to offer.
ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES INCLUDE: INCLUDE :
Seelbach, Drizly, Mash&Grape
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