Like many businesses, Sourced Craft Cocktails experienced a significant downfall when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Primarily a business-to-business company operating online at SourcedCraftCocktails.com, it launched in 2015 and focused on providing a curated craft cocktail experience at on-site social events for companies of all sizes.
But in March, when pandemic restrictions were enacted across the country, gatherings of all sizes disappeared, restaurants halted in-door dining and bars closed. Corporate social events vanished, and many bartenders and other hospitality industry professionals lost their jobs.
To survive the pandemic, Sourced Craft Cocktails’s founder and CEO Tim Angelillo knew he needed to react quickly. He saw the pandemic not only as an opportunity to expand on its traditional B2B business model to focus more on the homebound consumer, but also as a way to sell to work-at-home employees and help unemployed bartenders get back into the workforce. “In 72 hours, we changed our entire business model and relaunched our website to rapidly evolve from an almost entirely B2B focus to now almost entirely homebound consumers,” Angelillo says. “And in doing so, we opened up employment opportunities for people in the hospitality industry who had lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic.”
Adjusting course for COVID: A ‘real virtual happy hour’
In the five years Sourced Craft Cocktails had been in business prior to COVID-19, the company says it had grown by 100% to 150% year-over-year. But since the pandemic hit and the company immediately shifted focus, it has grown a substantial 792%.
That growth, in part, is resulting from Sourced Socials, a service Sourced Craft Cocktails launched during the pandemic to cater to work-at-home employees. Prior to COVID-19, companies hired Sourced Craft Cocktails to conduct events at corporate offices, where it served cocktails to hundreds of employees. Unlike in-person social events, company-sponsored Sourced Socials take place in the employee’s home as a shared experience with other employees via Zoom.
For Sourced Social events, Sourced Craft Cocktails’s drivers—unemployed bartenders and other hospitality industry professionals—deliver cocktail kits directly to employees’ homes. The kits arrive complete with everything the employee needs to make a cocktail: a bottle of alcohol, a premade non-alcoholic cocktail mix and instructions on how to prepare the drink. Then all of the employees join a Zoom meeting, at which Sourced Craft Cocktails conducts a demonstration on how to make the cocktail.
“It’s a real virtual happy hour,” Angelillo says. “This is how we were able to create a shared experience when everyone is remote. We’re all having a cocktail—the same cocktail.”
Sourced Socials have proved to be a huge hit, he says. In the past four months, Source Craft Cocktails has conducted the virtual events for more than 300 companies—including Apple, Google and Facebook.
Overcoming delivery hurdles
Before the pandemic, when Sourced Craft Cocktails was only conducting on-site events, it only had to deliver cocktail supplies to one address. With Sourced Socials, those hundreds of cocktail supplies now needed to go to hundreds of different locations on the same day within a four-hour window and with only a 24-hour notice. According to Angelillo, that’s only possible due to the combination of two software providers.
Sourced Craft Cocktails uses Shopify as its ecommerce platform. And in June, it partnered with Onfleet—a last-mile delivery software company—to handle its dramatically increasing distribution and routing.
“The partnership was a no-brainer,” says Onfleet CEO Khaled Naim. Through its software, he says, Onfleet provides such services as real-time driver tracking and delivery notifications, and handles all the legal verifications that go along with delivering controlled substances to a person’s home, including verifying age and acquiring a signature.
“Part of the magic of Sourced Craft Cocktails is we built a tech stack that could continue to deliver the same high-quality product experience to sustain almost 800% growth,” Angelillo says. “It wouldn’t be possible without Onfleet’s routing software and our API—and the ability of Shopify to tie those two pieces of software together.” Sourced Craft Cocktails uses APIs, or application programming interfaces, to integrate software.
Within two seconds of a customer making a purchase on SourcedCraftCocktails.com, the system processes the order and optimizes it for its delivery date in one of the company’s 11 markets. It is then queued up for Sourced Craft Cocktails’s routing manager to review and assign it to a driver.
Through a rigorous recruiting effort using social media and blog platforms, Sourced Craft Cocktails has identified and hired unemployed hospitality professionals, who work as independent contractors, to handle those last-mile deliveries. “We have specifically focused on taking care of our own so we recruit and hire our drivers directly from the hospitality industry,” Angelillo says.
To be able to do all of this in real time, Angelillo says, has allowed Sourced Craft Cocktails to successfully accommodate its nearly 800% growth this year, as well as control the quality of the experience.
Tennis-themed cocktails for the U.S. Open
While the COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever, many experts say that consumer and corporate buying behavior have changed for good. And Sourced Craft Cocktails is already well set to cater to more of its B2C customers who enjoy entertaining at home.
In early September, the company launched a themed cocktail kit to coincide with the U.S. Open Tennis Championship. Tennis fans were able to order a kit based on the tournament’s signature drink—the Grey Goose Honey Deuce—from Sourced Craft Cocktails to be delivered directly to their homes during the event.
And in mid-September, the company offered “the world’s greatest cocktails inspired by the world’s greatest spy” to celebrate the return of TV show Archer to FXX. Viewers were able to order two different cocktail kits—which came with “some awesome Archer swag”—to be delivered during the show’s season premiere on Sept. 16. And Sourced Craft Cocktails is currently working on other themed cocktail kits that will coincide with future sporting events, movie releases and TV show premieres.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, Sourced Craft Cocktails is holding strong on for both B2B and B2C, Angelillo says. Each side of the business is bringing in about 50% of the company’s profits.
“Sourced Craft Cocktails is in a recession-proof industry that people enjoy,” Angelillo says. “As consumers realize more and more that they can have a curated cocktail experience delivered straight to their homes, we will see our business—and the alcohol industry as a whole—continue to grow.”
Cate Flahardy is a Chicago-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.
Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Digital Commerce 360 B2B News, published 4x/week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B ecommerce industry. Contact editor Paul Demery at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pdemery.
Follow us on LinkedIn and be the first to know when new Digital Commerce 360 B2B News content is published.