Follow-up: Liquor delivery apps

liquor delivery appsForget disruptive; liquor delivery apps have a difficult time delivering quality

Liquor delivery apps, which were touted as the next big disruptive event in the cyber-ether just a year ago, don’t seem so disruptive these days. Their growth has stalled, and the momentum has gone to services like Instacart, which does grocery store delivery, and Uber, which has all those cars on the road.

Can services that deliver wine, beer, and spirits from liquor stores survive that onslaught? My guess is no, and my most recent delivery experience in Dallas reinforced that opinion.

Forget the legal hurdles, as difficult as they are in liquor delivery and that restrict when and what you can order. The question to answer: Can the countless liquor delivery apps like Drizly, Minibar, Klink, and Thirstie do a better job than Instacart, which will deliver booze with your milk, bread, and lettuce from high-end retailers like Whole Foods? Or are they going to give you the same crappy grocery store wine experience?

Because the apps, which contract with local liquor retailers, have to do a better job with quality and price. Otherwise, what’s the point? But every time I have used them, including last week, that hasn’t been the case. And I’m not the only one who feels this way: “Food and grocery delivery services tend to cater to the 1%.”

I ordered a $15 Jules Taylor New Zealand sauvignon blanc and Bogle sauvignon blanc from Drizly, which works with Dallas retailer Goody Goody. My $24 worth of wine cost $33.18, which included tip and delivery fee. The nearest Goody Goody is 10 minutes from my house; was the extra $9 – another bottle of wine, practically – worth the convenience? Probably not.

But what convinced me not to do it again was the experience. The website was difficult to navigate and pages kept disappearing. Plus, when I searched for rose, merlots and other reds showed up in the results. In addition, I couldn’t check my past orders – I got a 404 error.

The worst part, though, is that the wine descriptions were vague when they existed at all, and most didn’t include vintages. What’s the point of ordering on-line when you can’t get basic information? Order on Amazon, and you can find out more than you need to know. Here, you can’t find out enough – both wines were past vintages, and that’s a risky business for cheap wine. I wouldn’t have ordered either if I had known they weren’t 2015s.

Now, if all I want is a couple of cases of beer or a 1.5 liter bottle of cheap Scotch, and I’ve been drinking all day, the delivery apps make sense. And that’s sort of how they got their start – college students who wanted to order beer on-line. But if you want service and quality, they’re no substitute for a trip to the store.