The Los Angeles Times this week reported that while third-party food services are popular with consumers, restaurant owners are paying hefty fees to services such as Postmates, Doordash, Uber Eats and others, and it’s taking a sizeable bite out of their profits during a time restaurants can least afford it.
Most fees are around 20 percent per order, but sometimes they’re as high as 30 percent.
Wine retailers are facing a similar scenario.
When the pandemic forced wine retailers to limit or prohibit customers from entering their stores last year, many opted to deliver wine to customers’ homes, provide curbside pick-up, turn to third-party services, or a combination thereof.
One Southern California retailer we spoke with, which operates two neighborhood wine shops that specialize in boutique wines, told Vinroutes that they were using Doordash prior to the pandemic, but also enlisted staff to delivery wine to customers’ homes once in-store purchases were banned.
Staff would make local deliveries during their shift or one their way home from work, and a dedicated delivery person was also brought in to assist with deliveries.
It wasn’t an ideal situation, according to the owner.
While California is easing restrictions on customers shopping in-person, now that customers are accustomed to third-party services, some are choosing to continuing to purchase wine that way.
According to the owner of the wine shop, that presents a dilemma, because like restaurant owners, the owner of the wine shop said third-party delivery fees are too high.
She still uses Doordash, but Drizly, which is being acquired by Uber Eats, has been reaching out to her for weeks in hopes of providing its delivery services for the shop.
Thus far, she hasn’t returned the emails, and isn’t sure she will.
There’s no question that DTC and the use of third-party delivery services are making significant in-roads in the wine industry. However, small retailers are concerned about their ability to remain cost competitive.
The shop owner we spoke to has a tasting license, and is eager to reinstate in-store tastings once it’s permissible. She also emphasized that knowledgeable staff who can hand-sell bottles and introduce customers to new wines is a differentiator that will be even more important for small shops in the future.