Technology   //   October 5, 2022

How ReserveBar is integrating Minibar’s technology for nationwide alcohol delivery

Spirits marketplace ReserveBar is officially entering the rapid delivery game.

After nearly a decade of operating as a product discovery and gifting marketplace, this week ReserveBar is introducing on-demand delivery to compete with the likes of Drizly and DoorDash. It marks a pivotal moment in ReserveBar’s growth strategy. The on-demand function will allow ReserveBar to deliver its products in under an hour and conveniently to consumers.

These new fulfillment options are thanks to a recent acquisition. Last November, ReserveBar acquired Minibar Delivery– known for its two-hour alcohol delivery service — which now allows the two platforms to share resources and technology. 

ReserveBar specializes in rare and high-end products, along with bar accessories, product customization and gifting options. The company works with over 2,800 retail partner locations, and this year the Minibar Delivery acquisition will bring the total to over 5,000 stores nationwide. Until now, ReserveBar — founded in 2013 — has fulfilled orders from its network of retailers on a multi-day shipping basis. The company does not disclose specific annual revenue figures.

According to ReserveBar’s executives, the company’s next phase of growth will entail a more robust alcohol e-commerce strategy, in which the company offers local same-day fulfillment alongside traditional shipping. 

In the long term, ReserveBar is betting on digital alcohol sales to continue growing incrementally, and is investing in new tech accordingly. As IWSR reported earlier this year, the total beverage alcohol e-commerce sales are expected to grow by more than 66% in the next five years, hitting over $42 billion.

In addition to on-demand capabilities, this week ReserveBar is rolling out new features incorporated from Minibar Delivery’s proprietary tech. These include advanced notifications of product availability, the option to schedule shipping times, a faster website browsing experience, and customer video messages for gifting orders.  

ReserveBar president Derek Correia told Modern Retail that when the pandemic first began, online alcohol was still seen as a niche business. “Adoption was trailing behind similar categories like grocery delivery, but the “coronavirus helped us catch up,” he said.

Following the company’s growth by double digits in the span of two years, ReserveBar is preparing to offer customers more ways to buy premium spirits and gifts through its website. “Some gifting occasions rely on on-demand because a lot of people want the bottle last minute,” Correia said. 

Part of the integration also includes connecting the two company’s tech stacks, making it possible to show ReserveBar products’ on-demand availability. “Now customers will be able to filter what’s available within an hour vs. days,” Correia said. “We’ll  eventually be rolling out scheduled delivery, recurring subscriptions, clubs and memberships to specific spirit makers.” Minibar Delivery’s standalone website and app are still operating nationwide.

“The Minibar acquisition wasn’t so much about becoming like Drizly, but the ability to offer more fulfillment options,” Correia said. Drizly was acquired by Uber last year, signaling a wave of consolidation among alcohol delivery players. 

Another one of the company’s goals is to improve its gifting service, which is already a big sales driver for the business. The company’s concierge service offers custom engraving on all bottles sold on ReserveBar, and will now add at-cart video messaging that the receiver will get with the product.

The company is also planning inventory expansion in the coming months, with ReserveBar adding more rare wines, Champagne and spirits. “We’ve always had a strong Champagne business and want to continue growing the selection,” Correia said. “We’ll also start having more competitive pricing because we’ll be adding more retailers on the platform.” 

Another segment of ReserveBar’s current model also includes white-label partnerships. “We power branded sites like Macallan to appear as DTC and plan to work with more brands,” Correia said. “We’ll also be launching a ready-to-drink specific platform because we see the category as another opportunity for growth,” he added.

Sean Ryan, partner and lead of consumer practice’s CPG sector at Kearney, said that given the recent consolidation in the space and competition for customers, it’s more important than ever for alcohol delivery platforms to differentiate themselves. 

“It’s particularly important for the luxury spirits category, as the current trend in the beverage alcohol market revolves around premium brands,” Ryan said. Furthermore, luxury brands typically want a matching customer experience to go along with their sales. “If ReserveBar can create a luxurious experience in the shopping, purchasing and receipt of the product, they’ll be welcomed by brand owners and consumers who expect the experience to match the price.” 

Lindsay Held, co-founder and CEO at ReserveBar, added that the company isn’t concerned about demand slowdowns, but plans to retain and grow its customer base through these new features. “We continue to grow year-over-year coming out of Covid despite hitting high benchmarks in 2020 and 2021.”

“For the first 10 years, we weren’t positioned to do on-demand delivery, so instead we focused on content, discovery and offering limited edition items,” Held said. “Now that we have a large footprint across the country, this next phase is an evolution of what we’ve already built.”