Thirstie, who makes e-commerce software for liquor brands, today announced Thirstie Access, a solution that will let alcohol brands build and manage their own online storefronts. According to an email sent to The Spoon, Thirstie Access enables the direct purchase of actual booze from these sites, which is a first for the spirits industry.
Despite the uptick in online booze sales over the last few years, purchasing alcohol directly from a brand is tricky business in the U.S. There’s a three-tier system, where alcohol producers hand the product to wholesale distributors, who in turn supply retailers (aka the liquor store) that sell to the customer. Under this system, each tier is regulated separately and no one party can be involved in more than one tier.
The advent of online alcohol sales calls into question whether that system is antiquated and inefficient, seeing as it slows down the process of getting on-demand-crazed consumers their goods as fast as possible. Hence the arrival of companies like Thirstie.
Since its launch in 2014, the Thirstie platform has acted as a kind of middleman between liquor companies and consumers, facilitating the purchase of alcohol online and connecting brands to its network of local retailers that can deliver the order to the consumer. Its software platform enables liquor companies to essentially bypass the distribution tier and send consumer orders to the retailer for delivery. As my colleague Chris Albrecht wrote last year, with Thirstie, brands, “can ‘sell’ their goods without actually selling them.”
The Thirstie Access tool changes that by letting liquor brands process and handle purchases directly from their own sites. In other words, they can finally add that “Buy” button so noticeably absent from most of these brands’ websites, which is something of a first for the spirits industry. Using Thirstie Access, an alcohol company will be able to quickly build an industry-compliant website from which it can sell its products to consumers. Companies using the Access tool will also be able to leverage Thirstie’s API and its network of retailers (who still have to do the actual delivering of the booze).
There are a few advantages to consumers being able to purchase directly from a liquor brand’s website. For one thing, it cuts out an extra step (or three) in the consumer’s buying journey — instead of getting redirected to a marketplace or liquor retailer’s site, the buyer can simply add items to their cart and hit “buy.” Direct purchasing also means liquor companies get access to their consumers’ purchasing behavior, which is nowadays considered the Holy Grail in online retail. The hope is that both of those things translate to higher direct sales for alcohol brands, particularly the independent ones who often have to fight hard for visibility alongside their more mainstream counterparts.
On that note, Thirstie will launch Thirstie Access with three indie spirits companies: Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey, RAMONA Organic Wine Spritzes and rum brand Ten to One. Proper No. Twelve will be available for delivery for residents of California, New York, Kentucky, and 15 other U.S. states. Further expansion is planned for 2020.
Thirstie said in the press release it will add “an extensive list” of brands to the Access platform over the next few months.