Welcome to our fifth installment of LibDib's multi-part series on the topic of E-Premise. This time we highlight Thirstie, a technology company that connects alcohol brands with consumers through DTC-like e-commerce, consumer adoption and data intelligence solutions.
Companies like Thirstie, are part of the e-premise evolution in the three-tier system. We are thrilled to introduce you to Thirstie’s innovative solutions that are transforming the beverage alcohol industry.
What’s your company’s origin story?
A: Thirstie has been a pioneer in beverage alcohol e-commerce 2014. Having started in the space as an e-commerce marketplace, we soon recognized a huge opportunity with suppliers and brands. It was evident that marketplace solutions were focused on consumers and retailers. At that time, brands and their e-commerce needs weren’t fully being addressed. In 2017 we pivoted our business model and launched the first enterprise e-commerce solution, built specifically for alcohol brands. Then in 2019, we brought the first white-label branded e-commerce platform to the market. Allowing us to launch turnkey branded webstores in a matter of weeks instead of months.
Thirstie’s e-commerce capabilities arm brands with the ability to own the consumer experience from beginning to end. Our platform not only allows them to control the brand messaging and story but we also provide first-party customer data, enabling brands to more effectively market to their consumers.
Our biggest differentiator, however, is our commitment to compliance. Suppliers and brands have a lot on their plate and we aim to be a trusted e-commerce partner, especially as it pertains to remaining compliant through e-commerce efforts.
From the onset, we understood that e-commerce is still a new concept in the industry and wanted to set a precedent on what a DTC-like e-commerce platform should be. Which is why we met, and continue to meet, with state regulators, onboarded a nationwide retailer network and built proprietary technology to ensure any Thirstie-powered branded digital storefronts met the three-tiered system requirements.
Alongside our commitment to compliance, retailer network and proprietary technology, we also offer brands something incredibly unique to help drive consumers to their digital storefront: a liquor brand gift card solution. Having brought the first liquor branded gift card program to the market in November of 2021, we now sell this as part of our suite of offerings to brands. The concept is simple: instead of having to pay millions of dollars on digital marketing efforts, drive consumers to purchase bottles via your branded webstore through gift cards. Whether it is selling them in retail stores or integrating them into your events, they are a great tool to increase consumer adoption to a brand’s digital storefront.
Can you share with us your progress?
A: With the pandemic, Thirstie saw big growth in 2020, so in 2021 we implemented tools and developed new resources that would service brands better. We improved the checkout flow, optimized the customer flow, and improved our data capabilities and data dashboards. We also continued to help brands understand how they can be successful on the Thirstie platform.
In the second half of 2021 we took a step back and reset our strategy to focus on working with brands who have a commitment to e-commerce. Whether that is digital marketing budgets and efforts, robust distribution or a willingness to engage with data and Thirstie’s platform to test and try different ways to reach their customers.
As mentioned above, in November 2021, we also launched the first gift card solution for alcohol brands. We’re incredibly proud to have brought the first liquor branded gift card to market with Bacardi’s portfolio brand, Mix lab and Grey Goose. We have many more exciting updates to share on the gift card front which we’ll be announcing over the next few months.
What’s the best way for a LibDib Maker to work with you?
A: To work with Thirstie, a brand should have digital marketing savviness and good distribution channels. To start, we take a look at their marketing and e-commerce plans. We ask that brands have at least a $30k marketing budget per year, distribution in a couple of states, and a solid e-commerce playbook.
If a LibDib Maker is interested in Thirstie, they can drop us a quick note using the following online questionnaire. We will then have an initial call to understand specifically what a brand is looking for with regards to e-commerce, as well as how much they plan to invest in this channel at which point we can help to build out the strategy.
Can you share a Maker success story with us?
A: We’ve seen a lot of success with limited edition bottles. One brand we worked with sold over 1300 bottles in less than 20 minutes. A lot of brands have done well offering gift boxes and bundles, such as three products in one “package.” Another brand we work with, saw a tremendous number of gift orders being placed, even on non-holiday occasions. This brand took this data and applied it to a promotion by blasting a non-seasonal gift box offer out to their newsletter database. They saw a lift in sales by listening to what their customers were looking for and offering something unique.
Our brand partners are able to optimize these kinds of experiences through our national retail network. To ensure a smooth customer experience, we work closely with our retail partners. Internally, we have built out a strong Thirstie retail sales and operations team in addition to a customer support team. We take the heavy lifting off the brands and retailers to ensure the customers receive their purchases and have a seamless experience.
Understanding consumers is the first step to driving success to a brand's e-commerce sites/digital storefront. And our data and platform can help those brands take a very targeted marketing approach.
Our data capabilities provide brands with persona level profiles broken down by what type of consumer is the most engaged with purchasing their product online. This allows them to more effectively market and understand what type of consumer segment they should focus on.
For example, a Thirstie tequila brand partner was spending significant money on Instagram ads but not seeing the conversation rates they had hoped. After walking through their data dashboard and taking a look at their top persona types, the brand realized that their core consumer pool actually skewed a bit older and the best way to reach them was through 1-to-1 email campaigns. Once the brand adjusted their strategy, leveraging data insights, they saw incredible results.
We’ve also seen brands be successful by applying category-level data and insights to their e-commerce strategy. After we launched the first Thirstie Data Insights report last fall, focusing on the online shopping patterns for Tequila/Mezcal consumers, our brand partners were able to adjust their strategies based on our findings. Soon we are launching a Digital Marketing playbook for Tequila/Mezcal brands which provides brands with actionable marketing tactics to engage with each of the category personas.
If you could give one piece of brand advice what would it be?
A: Engagement is the first step. We have bootstrapped brands who find success by being engaged in the platform, looking at the data dashboard, and picking our brains on marketing initiatives.
Brands should also learn from other brands in their space. Follow an innovative bourbon brand and see what they’re doing. In the spirits industry there’s a lot of shared ideas and collaboration. The alcohol sector is unique as sure, brands competitive on the shelves but our industry always lends itself to being collaborative. There is a strong community to share lessons learned, best practices and overall insights. Brands should take advantage of that.
Also, spend the time to learn about all e-commerce opportunities. It takes a level of commitment to continually look at what’s happening. Once you know then you refine, refine until you hit that sweet spot.