The C-Suite is a vast audience of leaders who all have a little extra insight into their industry and the current business world. I sit down with these leaders to give them the opportunity to share that insight and give a glimpse to their personal stories as a business leader. I recently had the opportunity to interview Devaraj Southworth, CEO and Co-founder of Thirstie.
Alcohol is a heavily regulated industry, and because of that the way consumers have traditionally purchased alcohol has not changed much. Thirstie has created quite a disruption within this industry; how did this come about?
There are companies delivering products within the food, transportation, grocery industries, however within the wine and beverage industry we immediately noticed there was no one clear technology leader. We wanted to be the technology company to take an innovative approach to alcoholic beverage distribution. Of course, we had to address the legal challenges and that was about solving business challenges on a consumer side as well as the distribution aspect.
I’m having a party, I’m about to run out, or I want to have a party and I need to stock up – I can now call Thirstie.
Yes, call Thirstie! We created a system that would enable the consumer to use their mobile device to purchase alcoholic beverages and have them delivered to their home within the hour. We also offer more specialized products that can be delivered within 3 days as well as integrated recipes as a way to wrap our consumers in a fabulous value added experience.
Regarding wrapping your consumer in a value added experience, what didn’t work and what did work and what do you do as an ongoing process to continue to learn?
Early on we did a lot of testing. Our first tests involved a very niche approach. We assumed that our viewers and our readers would want a more limited group of products. We were wrong; we quickly learned our consumers wanted the largest selection possible. Our customers asked for more so we created a mail order division to better serve them.
Listen to your consumers.
Our early customers were asking for more information and education. The traditional model involves going to the liquor store, seeing thousands of items and generally leaving with the same product you usually buy. That’s not the ideal purchasing experience, so presenting information that is not overwhelming is part of our customer experience.
Five years from now how do you see change, if at all, in the primary distribution of liquor and spirits.
I think technology much like ours will enable the large massive brands to sell directly, as well as the smaller and early ones. This is the future. Using a mobile device to order alcohol does not mean we are cutting out a person, or tier. The reality is we’re not, we’re working within that system and the system’s being – first tier manufacturers, the second being distributors, and the third being retailers.
What we are doing is leading additional demand, which is beneficial to the retailers, the distributors, the brands and ultimately the consumer.
This article is also featured on Huffington Post.