Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Instacart has announced it has expanded its alcohol delivery and now sells booze via roughly one-third of its 300 retail partners.
Said partners include BevMo!, Total Wines & More, Albertsons, and Kroger. The expansion brings Instacart‘s presence in the booze-o-sphere to 14 states total: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Washington.
It’s another move in an ongoing push from the grocery retailer to offer booze delivery in as many states as laws permit. According to a press release, Nebraska and Michigan are next on the list, and customers there will be able to purchase booze via Instacart in the near future.
More alcohol sales could potentially give Instacart and other online grocery retailers the kind of interest the sector needs right now. Although there are diehards out there addicted to buying their groceries and everything else they can manage online, Americans largely aren’t into the idea. In fact, just 4 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup poll reported buying groceries online “once a week or more.”
There are plenty of reasons online grocery isn’t quite as popular as the headlines want you to believe. As a consumer, you get less control over things like cuts of meat and produce selection when you order online. Others are in the tricky spot of not wanting to pay a delivery fee for each order but not buying enough each week to justify an Unlimited membership, which offers free delivery on orders of $35 or more. And some just like grocery stores.
Alcohol-delivery sales, on the other hand, are on the rise, and some suggest booze and groceries are the match made in heaven online food and bev needs: according to Investment firm Rabobank, “online grocery is poised to become the most important driver of online alcohol sales.”
Yes, there are plenty of other online alcohol retailers out there, from Drizly, who raised $34.5 million last year, Swill, and a host of other smaller companies. But Instacart expanding its alcohol business presents customers with a value-add they can’t get with booze-specific services: the one-stop-shop effect. Instead of buying groceries via one online store and wine from a totally separate one, consumers can lump all their edible purchases into one cart and hit a single button to purchase.
I realize having to buy food and booze from two separate online retailers is not a real problem in the context of the rest of the world. It is, however, a piece of the overall puzzle delivery businesses are trying to solve in terms of offering convenience to customers, and in doing so compete with larger e-commerce operations (like Amazon).
Instacart customers can purchase wine, beer, and spirits in much the same way as they purchase broccoli on the service, the only difference being that they have to flash an ID at the door. The expanded service is available now in the states mentioned above.