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Drizly upgrades analytics to serve 8x demand growth

About Drizly

Boston-based Drizly is North America’s largest ecommerce and delivery platform for beer, wine, and spirits. It connects shoppers with local outlets—from retail chain locations to mom-and-pop liquor stores—allowing them to shop the biggest selection of beer, wine, and spirits online.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: United States
Products: Google Cloud, Looker

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Drizly and Looker team to scale their analytics.

Results

  • Increased access and trust in self-service analytics for business users across the organization, while leveraging the power and speed of complete data stack
  • Leveraged data to scale growth 800% and provide data-driven account management and support to retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Identified new growth opportunities with geospatial data to help sales teams strategically prioritize
  • Built new data product in less than six months to help suppliers and retailers identify opportunities and to create a new revenue stream for the business
  • Embedded analytics product had 25% year-over-year revenue growth

Boston-based Drizly is North America’s largest ecommerce and delivery platform for beer, wine, and spirits. It connects shoppers with local outlets—from retail chain locations to mom-and-pop liquor stores—allowing them to shop the biggest selection of beer, wine, and spirits online.

The company dedicates itself to being there for life’s moments and the people who create them. Since its founding in 2012, Drizly has expanded to more than 1,400 cities in the United States and Canada, including two-thirds of U.S. states. Recognizing this strong position, Uber acquired the company in early 2021 for $1.1 billion.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought transformational changes for Drizly as homebound consumers overnight turned to delivery services en masse. The platform saw 800% sales growth at the early onset of the pandemic. That success hinged in large part on data.

Drizly made use of LookerGoogle Cloud’s modern business intelligence and data application platform—for internal analytics to support account management and sales teams as they met the demand surge. Their use of data proved to be a strategic resource to provide insights into customer behavior, drive investment decisions, and boost growth.

Understanding that the brands on its platform and its retailer partners had little visibility into their customer journey, Drizly saw the unique opportunity to deliver additional value with consumer insights. The company expanded their use of Looker to go beyond traditional BI and develop a new product, built with embedded analytics, that monetized this data to create a new revenue stream.

“We had done so much work on our infrastructure. We needed a tool that would play well with that, and be better managed and controlled to provide the best experience for everyone involved.”

Athena Casarotto, Associate BI Manager, Drizly

Upgrading the data stack—with a unified BI layer to match

As the first company to offer its service model in the liquor market, Drizly experienced rapid growth even before the pandemic. With that expansion, the company recognized a need to upgrade its data stack to support efficient scaling. Drizly started rebuilding its data infrastructure and was in this transition when COVID-19 struck.

“Our previous BI tool created a lot of untrustworthy tangled webs,” recalls Athena Casarotto, Associate BI Manager at Drizly. “People were repeating work, and there was no organization. The tool was turning into a junk drawer, and no one knew how to sift through all the stuff in there. It was easier to make something from scratch than to find it.”

Moreover, business users struggled, and troubleshooting took the analytics team away from higher-value work. “Overall, the BI layer was falling short at the last level and it wasn't matching the beauty of the rest of our stack. It made sense to reevaluate and match the power of the whole pipeline,” Casarotto explains.

As the infrastructure project was unfolding, Drizly was expanding again to meet the growth that the pandemic brought, taxing its resources. First-time users flocked to the platform, and new markets opened as state restrictions changed. The company needed real-time insights to enable employees to meet the demand surge and deliver the best possible experience on the Drizly marketplace.

Finding a solution that business users love...and trust

As Drizly considered a replacement, it evaluated two solutions for the top layer of the data stack—a visualization tool and Looker. The top selection criteria were flexibility, compatibility with the rest of the stack, data governance, and the self-service user experience.

In a trial, Drizly business users had the opportunity to work with Looker and compare the solution to the incumbent tool and the other visualization tool. The feedback was enthusiastic about Looker’s interface, ease of use, and visualizations. Recognizing the importance of these stakeholders’ needs, decision-makers understood that Looker best served the business. The analytics team was also confident that Looker would provide the data governance and trusted self-service they needed, while making the most of the tools and processes already in place.

After extensive side-by-side comparison, the company chose Looker and worked with Montreal Analytics, a cloud and data consulting firm, to implement the platform. The firm’s experience with the solution and its guidance on best practices for setup and scaling helped Drizly accelerate their time-to-value.

“It’s great to have the separation between the internal Drizly users who can access and explore freely and the more controlled environment for our white-label experience. Plus, we have the option to continue to add and customize over time”

Athena Casarotto, Associate BI Manager, Drizly

Data helps account managers save the day during the pandemic

Account managers were stretched by the pandemic, helping new retailers to get going on the platform and supporting stores that struggled to fulfill the surge in customer orders. The team used Looker to optimize the retailer experience and identify coverage gaps, such as hours when stores were not online or products which did not meet customer demand.

“Our account managers were the biggest heroes to our retailers during this time,” Casarotto reports.

The account management team relies on Looker as their go-to place to support retailers and help stores succeed. Using Looker, Drizly can tell retailers which hours and products have the highest demand so they can fine-tune their schedules and inventory. This contributes to sales growth and builds closer, trusted retailer relationships. The sellers benefit from a greater ability to understand and meet market demands, which helps them enhance their customer experience.

Mapping strategic growth opportunities

Using Looker to identify gaps helps Drizly’s sales team prioritize opportunities and create faster growth. They use this intelligence to drive decisions on expanding into new markets, adding retailers to the platform, and making strategic investments. For example, Drizly understands where to prioritize adding new liquor stores to its marketplace based on geographic data about untapped customer demand. With these insights, the team can quickly identify and act on opportunities and respond to consumer needs.

Furthermore, Drizly uses geospatial analytics to get hyper-local insights on market level data. Using maps in Looker, the team can go beyond identifying how many retailers they have in an area to further identify their highest areas of utilization. “For example, we have great coverage in New York City when looking at the ‘count of stores.’ However, using geospatial data we can see exactly where we’re hitting capacity six times faster than the rest of the city to help us assess the greatest needs and potential at a more specific level,” shares Casarotto.

Jake Smart, Manager of Production Data Science and Machine Learning Engineering at Drizly, adds, “We set out to unlock the ability for our analysts to work dexterously with the geospatial data. To do so, we took maps and created location-specific polygon tiles to provide more granular insights into comparable area units. Bringing all of this together helps us understand a lot more about our orders, deliveries, new stores, and inventory. We can also combine this with external datasets such as census or weather data, which is very powerful for our growth strategy.”

Quickly unlocking insights into the customer journey for brands

Drizly realized there was an opportunity to go beyond its internal use of analytics. Commonly, companies experiencing seismic shifts in their business are unable to act on new opportunities because of limited real-time access to data and constrained resources. However, Drizly swiftly capitalized on the possibilities offered by its data despite the pandemic pressure.

The company saw potential to provide even more value to its retailer partners and brands of all sizes, which didn’t have insights into their consumer experience.

From working with Looker, Drizly understood that leveraging embedded analytics to build a data product could offer valuable strategic insights to these companies.

Moreover, the initiative was doable because the Drizly team could use their existing data infrastructure to maximum advantage. This meant the company did not have to divert engineers from the business to work on building analytics from the ground up. “We needed to be very resource efficient with our constrained engineering time,” notes Rocky Martin, former Drizly Strategic Partnerships Analytics Lead.

To accelerate their time to market, Drizly relied on the expertise of Hashpath, a data analytics consulting firm, and their White Label Data platform. Hashpath quickly put their Looker expertise to work by developing a wealth of product components, from authentication and onboarding to user groups and navigation, employing best practices to ensure long-term success for users and administrators.

Seth Rosen, co-founder and Principal at Hashpath Consulting, says, “As a Looker partner, we can leverage the components and ecosystem to build, customize, and deliver the data experiences our customers need at a rapid development speed. We were able to make everything feel like a native experience and element of the Drizly brand—demonstrating value to Drizly as well as their customers. And as Drizly continues to evolve and innovate, the product we've built with Looker will allow them to iterate and respond to their customers faster."

With Hashpath’s help, Drizly used embedded analytics with Looker to create a product with multiple pricing tiers and introduce a new revenue stream in less than six months. This product provides real-time visibility and insights on sales patterns of the 5,000 brands on its platform to suppliers and retailers.

“We were able to leverage all the data modeling and many things we had already done in Looker to make relevant insights securely visible to our external partners,” says Martin. “Our internal analytics were the foundational project for the new customer insights portal.”

Casarotto says the ease of implementing access restrictions for external users was a factor in the project’s success. The new product offers various pricing tiers and packages, so Drizly can serve a broad audience of vendors and retailers and deliver what they need—whether they’re a global brand that wants to delve into customer insights or a smaller regional producer that’s just getting started with customer analysis. The tiered approach gives Drizly customers the flexibility to move up when they are ready to gain greater understanding of their brand within the market. Demand for the product is strong, with revenue growing 25% year-over-year.

Martin adds, “We needed this to scale with our business, so we didn’t want to create a ton of custom reporting. We took a full inventory of potential reports and insights that customers may want and then tiered them into different product buckets to help them bring on new customers at scale. Our customers can pick the package that works for them, without requiring us to go back to the drawing board for each customer.”

In the first year of launching the new product, the benefits included:

  • Creating value for customers and a new revenue stream for Drizly that had 25% year-over-year growth
  • Stronger go-to-market strategy for the brand sales team
  • Reduced administrative burden for setup, contract creation, and security for client-facing data

Looking forward to even more growth potential

Drizly’s adoption of Looker was central to its ability to quickly react to help retailers meet scaling demand during the pandemic. Ultimately, Drizly’s effective use of data helped the company achieve 8x revenue growth and strategically evolve its business. Its internal users quickly became empowered by Looker, which they leveraged to support new business needs and ideas, such as helping retailers optimize their product selection and hours.

Moreover, Looker has enabled Drizly to enter a new line of business: creating a data product to help suppliers understand and take action on sales and competitive trends. This generated a revenue stream in under six months, with little additional technical investment. Looking forward, Drizly sees even greater growth potential in embedded analytics and anticipates taking advantage of Looker for more such products.

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About Drizly

Boston-based Drizly is North America’s largest ecommerce and delivery platform for beer, wine, and spirits. It connects shoppers with local outlets—from retail chain locations to mom-and-pop liquor stores—allowing them to shop the biggest selection of beer, wine, and spirits online.

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods
Location: United States