From the liquor shelf to your door, liquor deliveries now serve Iowa


Kum & Go director Christine Mahoney fills shelves with alcohol on Wednesday at Kum & Go on Blairs Ferry Road in Marion. The Kum & Go company, which offers delivery services in Iowa exclusively through the Drizly app, began delivering alcohol on October 27. (Geoff Stellfox / The Gazette)

Freshly stored bottles wait Wednesday to be purchased at a Kum & Go in Marion. Thanks to the Drizly smartphone app, customers can see in real time what is available in their local store, down to the number of bottles remaining on the shelves. (Geoff Stellfox / The Gazette)

A new kind of delivery service is reviving the spirits just in time for the holiday season.

Following the passage by the Iowa legislature of Internal File 766, which came into effect on July 1, several apps this month began offering alcohol delivery to various outlets in the l ‘Iowa. Nevertheless, despite the new freedoms gained when the state relaxed regulations during the pandemic, restaurants are still reluctant to continue with third-party delivery of alcoholic beverages.

Entering a new territory

With substantial demand seen with the services available so far, Iowa is in uncharted territory.

“The reality is that alcohol delivery is still relatively new,” said Blaine Grinna, director of retail partnerships at Drizly, an Uber-owned alcohol delivery app that has been serving other states for almost. nine years. “It still doesn’t have the food and grocery (delivery) brand awareness, but it’s growing fast. In new states with recent legislation, there is a level of excitement that exists.

Drizly, one of the few apps that has recently started serving the Corridor, now serves 18 cities in Iowa, in addition to serving cities in 30 other states. The recent expansion is due to temporary regulatory changes made last year in many states amid the pandemic. These changes to support restaurants and businesses ultimately led to the legalization of third-party alcohol delivery.

“We have been very encouraged by what we have seen over the past 12-18 months in terms of awareness and adoption,” said Grinna. “The pandemic has forced the conversation to unfold faster than some states had anticipated. “

Boston-based Drizly focuses exclusively on alcohol deliveries, as well as beverage accessories such as mugs, ice cubes, and blenders. The app, which bills itself as the world’s largest alcohol and on-demand delivery e-commerce platform, plans to expand to Waterloo and Cedar Falls soon.

Drizly’s services to Cedar Rapids, Coralville and Iowa City are mainly available through the Kum & Go sites. Kum & Go, which offers its delivery services in Iowa exclusively through the app, has started delivering alcohol October 27.

“Third-party alcohol delivery has given us the opportunity to take convenience to the next level for our current customers, and also reach customers who have not yet shopped in our stores,” said Christian Rogers, Director of the Alcohol Department for Kum & Go. “We see this as an increase in the activities we are currently doing in our stores. “

Other delivery services that were already present in Iowa, such as Instacart, are now expanding to allow alcohol deliveries with other orders, such as grocery and convenience items.

Instacart now offers same-day liquor delivery via Costco and Aldi statewide, joining 300 other retailers in the United States offering liquor delivery via the service. David Healy, a representative for the company’s retail partnerships, said same-day delivery and pickup has “become essential for consumers across the United States.” With its expansion into Iowa, its alcohol service now reaches 85 million American homes in 26 states, he said.

“Adding alcohol to our market in Iowa is not only convenient for customers, but also helps improve our traditional business partners who see a 25% increase in customer cart size when they add more. alcohol to their e-commerce offering, “he said.

Others less fiery

The adoption of the new delivery law was driven by the grocery industry – not the restaurant industry, according to Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. When it came into effect in July, the new law was “a mixed bag” for restaurants.

After already difficult relationships with other third-party food delivery services, restaurants remain lukewarm at best about services providing them with cocktails as well, despite the profitability of the cocktails themselves.

“It wasn’t something the restaurants were asking for. It was not a compelling and winning business model for the restaurant industry, ”said Dunker. “It was, however, for the grocery industry, as they were overwhelmed.”

For restaurants, there are stricter liability standards for serving alcohol than retail stores that sell alcohol but technically do not serve it. Dunker said restaurants would like to see strict rules with the responsibility on restaurants to be relaxed slightly, especially with the advent of alcohol in formats not available in the past.

“Cocktails to Go was a place our state chose to run. Third-party alcohol delivery is not a place our state wants to take precedence over everyone, ”she said. “We just can’t risk not having all the security measures in place. We’re going to watch this one work its way around a bit.

Alcoholic beverages are almost always the top-grossing item for restaurants – one of the reasons she said the industry is determined to find a winning formula. The point at which restaurant liability ends and third party liability begins on delivery in something Dunker would like to see clarified.

Some other delivery services remain reluctant to offer alcohol delivery. Chomp, a local delivery service, declined to add alcohol to the menu.

While there are technical barriers to implementing age verification in the ordering system, the main barrier is the age of the drivers, according to Adam Weeks, co-founder and managing member of Chomp. About a third of the company’s 120 drivers are under the age of 21.

The ordering experience

For applications like Drizly, the logistics of ordering alcohol to your door have been adapted from start to finish.

From your smartphone, customers can see what’s available in their local store in real time, right down to the number of bottles left on the shelf. Drizly only sells app partner merchants, which means stores won’t sell their alcohol through a delivery driver without their knowledge.

When a customer completes the order, an automated call is sent to a Kum & Go associate, for example, advising them to check the computer system and prepare the order for a delivery driver. All order information goes directly to the merchant, allowing them to see who is buying.

When an order is delivered, the driver scans the recipient’s photo ID using a smartphone camera. There, the app on the phone verifies age and identity using the barcode on the back of the ID.

Retailers who fulfill orders have the option of using third-party delivery drivers – orders in the Corridor are filled by drivers in services like Uber Eats – or providing their own delivery drivers. Stores are charged a license fee based on the percentage of sales made to them through the service.

Consumers pay a direct-to-store delivery charge, a service charge to service, and an optional tip to the delivery driver.

Comments: (319) 398-8340; [email protected]

Kum & Go director Christine Mahoney fills the shelves with alcohol on Wednesday at the Kum & Go store on Blairs Ferry Road in Marion. “Third-party alcohol delivery has given us the opportunity to take convenience to the next level for our current customers, and also reach customers who have not yet shopped in our stores,” said declared a manager of Kum & Go. (Geoff Stellfox / La Gazette)


About Michael Brafford

Check Also

For sleep apnea, cut down on junk food and alcohol, research shows

Comment this story Comment Every night, millions of people lose sleep due to obstructive sleep …