Alcohol delivery app Bevy taps off-trade sales with convenient solution

Bevy, the aptly titled alcohol delivery app, has carved itself a niche and is reaping the rewards.

Launched in the App Store in December 2015 and live with users in 2016, Bevy has been able to exploit the proliferation of apps and mobile adoption, as its co-founder and CEO, Kevin Kovar explains. “There’s been 300% growth in mobile commerce and consumers are getting more and more accustomed to convenience. But there was a lack of services focused on alcohol and convenience - nobody was tackling that, at least in the UK. Bevy was launched as a model to serve that kind of product but fulfill with instant delivery.”

Kovar brings a background in retail management consulting and real estate to the Bevy brand. He’s also worked for Cisco and has experience as an investment sales broker in California. As a result, he’s very familiar with brands, understands strategy, retail, tech and logistics.

“Living in the UK I noticed that there was a brilliant talent pool, with access to the same type of tech that you can build in the US,” he recalls. That spawned the idea for Bevy, along with Britain’s more open licensing laws - 24 hour and over 18s - versus the US, for example. “We are leveraging the best we can do with licensing,” Kovar says.

The brand Bevy, slang for a beverage (usually alcoholic), was registered and opened up the business to a world of exciting drinks - not just adult oriented products but items related to alcohol such as snacks, mixers and soft drinks.

Alcohol commands the lion’s share of the Bevy business at 70% and it’s very spirits driven. “We sell a lot of vodka and gin, then beer and wine and in that order,” Kovar says. The skew towards spirits is largely due to Bevy’s late night volumes when people are out socialising and need more bottles, Kovar says. The business has, however, expanded its wine partnerships with wine cellars and the like, who can advise Bevy on what to carry.

“We also sell a lot of beer and have partnerships with Peroni and other larger players. We move a lot of beer because it’s inconvenient to carry since it’s heavy and we can deliver to a dinner party or lunch in the park,” Kovar says.

Since launch, Bevy has expanded it’s service to seven days a week from noon: 12 noon to 11pm on Sunday through to Wednesday and 12 noon to 5am on Thursday through to Saturday.

“It’s not just for when you are having a big party, it’s reaching you at any time you really need it,” Kovar says.

Bevy was launched in London and its service is available across all of Zones one and two. It’s a GPS-enabled service. Once an order has been placed, it’s tracked to the closest inventory - Bevy works in partnership with a few dozen convenience stores and off licences. It then pairs the order with the nearest driver, in similar style to Uber, and delivers product in an average delivery time of just 35 minutes.

Bevy is providing impulse purchasing opportunities and instant gratification, enabling users to order a few extra bottles of wine to finish off a dinner or to send out an order for a party.

Motorbikes are used because they are able to cut through the traffic and can carry up to 20 kilos, Kovar explains. Bibs, branded with the Bevy logo, can be worn over a jacket but are optional. Bulk B2B orders are delivered by vans.

While Bevy began as a ‘pure play’ platform, working with its retail partners, it now stocks products itself in central warehousing. “We are driving business for stores and for those shops that don’t have a presence to sell online but some of the core products we sell are in central warehousing - we’ve created a hybrid model,” Kovar says.

Either way, Bevy is fulfilling a market need. Kovar reports that £1.1bn is sold in off-trade alcohol within the company’s delivery area and just 6% of sales are online. Mobile commerce spend is forecast to rise 243% between 2016 and 2019, according to Barclays; while IMRG reports on a 43% growth in online alcohol sales with Nielsen stating it’s the least shopped category in e-commerce but the one with the most potential.

While Kovar is unable share the number of app downloads, he does reveal that the average order, including a £5.00 delivery charge, is a staggering £45.00. It’s way above the typical £20.00 food delivery order, for example.

The delivery charge is a flat rate, regardless of the area or time of order; and Kovar insists it’s fair. “It’s a flat rate at any time. Other apps will increase the charge if you change the hour or distance. Our model is very simple - it’s the same wherever you are. We also pay our drivers a lot more than that per hour - we make money through our margins versus the delivery fee,” he states.

The Bevy app, meanwhile, is constantly evolving, Kovar reports. “It’s very different to when we launched two years ago,” he says. The GPS and tracking ability has improved along with the functionality and speed of processing.

“As simple as it may appear, there’s been 70 different integrations to get something simple and clean and that operates efficiently, which is key since you are dealing with impatient people at night,” Kovar says.

When users sign in, unlike for Uber, their building number is also required. This creates a few layers of friction but Bevy works to make the user experience as easy as possible and is winning customers through word of mouth, Kovar reports.

New delivery technologies such as drones are on the radar but it’s still early days, Kovar insists. “It’s fun to think about concepts like drones for getting products from A to B and perhaps one day we will not be looking at scooters and do something else. We’ve not done any trials but we will be keeping an eye on the space and the future of on-demand delivery.”

Other product categories have also been considered such as chilled food but for now the focus is firmly on alcohol. “We will get distracted if we push items that are too different to beverages, granted that there are pairings that work well and they are all under consideration at any point,” Kovar says.

Right now though, the focus is firmly on expanding Bevy’s current market in London, although Kovar believes Bevy would do well in other cities and metropolitan areas.

“We really want to saturate the current market, especially given the amount of business we know is here,” he smiles.

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Fiona BriggsFiona Briggs Freelance retail business journalist

Fiona is an experienced journalist and editor, writing exclusive content for GCSF. She is founder of retailtimes.co.uk. She contributes regularly to NACS Magazine and writes articles on omnichannel shopper trends for Radial. Fiona is available for commissions at fionalbriggs@gmail.com

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