Current Crisis Accelerates Industry’s Push to E-Commerce

Dear Client: 

Alcohol under-indexes in online sales especially compared to other CPG categories. With on-premise effectively shuttered for now, the number of bev alc companies making the move toward e-commerce has accelerated. 

In fact, the number of large brands that have sought out Thirstie’s services has multiplied by nearly 5X. 

“We’re hearing from major players in the industry, as they now believe e-commerce is their only avenue for hitting their quarterly and annual projections,” Thirstie co-founder and ceo Devaraj Southworth tells WSD.

Earlier this year (pre-pandemic), Thirstie launched a new turn-key solution, called Thirstie Access, that allows independent alcohol brands to build, manage and grow its online storefronts within 24 hours. Brands are able to create customized storefronts, gain access to Thirstie’s API integration, consumer data analytics and its full retail fulfillment network.

To be able to launch that kind of solution in a matter of days is the kind of quick response time a lot of companies are looking for right now. 

“For many of these brands, it’s their first jump into e-commerce,” he adds. 

The “current situation has undeniably expedited this shift [to e-commerce], as the entire nation has turned its attention to the power of e-comm. In the past two weeks, we’ve seen a mass migration towards that mission, a trend that will result in Thirstie exceeding our annual projections by over 6X,” says Devaraj. 

“I’ve never seen an industry shift focus so dramatically.”

Retailers are reaching out as well, says Devaraj. “We do feel a responsibility to do what we can for our industry on the brand side, we’re doing everything possible.” On the retailer side, they’re trying to ramp up their retail development in a “responsible way.”  

Similarly, Bottlecaps, a retailer-focused platform that provides white-label, store-branded, mobile apps and web solutions for beer, wine and liquor stores, has also seen a spike in new client inquiries. Sales on the platform were up 800%, per a release. 

When asked if this ‘new normal’ is giving alcohol e-commerce the push it needs, Devaraj said yes, adding “I feel like this ‘new normal’ is going to be the normal.”

“I absolutely think e-commerce–I’ve always felt this way– it’s the future of our industry….The focus has been moving that direction, but the mix absolutely will change. I don’t think [companies will] be 100% e-commerce. But the mix will change.”


On Thursday, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill to open up alcohol direct shipping in the state. The bill passed the Senate 21-11 and previously passed the House in a 52-33 vote, reports a local publication.

The bill would allow in-state and out-of-state distillers, wineries, and breweries to ship directly to Kentucky residents. Retailers and distributors would not be eligible for the shipping license. 

The bill also limits the amount consumers can buy within a month – 10 liters of spirits, 10 cases of wine and 10 cases of malt beverages. 

“Right now the bourbon tourism industry is flat on its back, closed because of COVID-19,” says Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer. “The same goes for tours of small-farm wineries and our craft brew locations around the state. This will create a new revenue stream for those producers on the other side of this COVID-19 crisis.”

“This direct-shipping bill has been in the work[s] for many years,” said state Sen. Thayer. “It has been the subject of …a numerous number of interim committee meetings over the past few years and a lot of behind-the-scenes work to get us where we are today.”

Now the bill heads to the governor. 


Heaven Hill Distilleries plans to invest $18.3 million to build two or three new barrel aging warehouses in Kentucky, increasing capacity by about 168,000 barrels, reports Louisville Business Journal.

The distillery will also receive $250,000 in tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority as part of the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act. 

Heaven Hill currently has about 1.7 million barrels aging in 60 warehouses. They distill about 1,300 barrels a day, and the new warehouses will help the company “keep up with this level of distillation,” according to Heaven Hill spokesperson Emily Gahafer. 


14 HANDS LAUNCHES LIMITED EDITION ROSE BUBBLES IN UNICORN CAN. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ 14 Hands Winery has released a limited-edition rose bubbles in a unicorn can, following the release of its 14 Hands brand in cans last year. “We’re leaning into key consumer trends with the launch of the unicorn rose bubbles,” says director of marketing Amanda Wygal, adding, “Research shows the preferred type of wine in a can is sparkling rose wine.” It will be on grocery shelves nationwide while supplies last. 

Until tomorrow,

“Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley

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