Getting high takes patience

Updated: Aug 02, 2020, 07:47 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

A two-month-old alcohol delivery app offers a wide variety, but needs to fix its backend mess to put a spring in the step of its delivery

The beer arrived with a complimentary packet of peanuts and facemask
The beer arrived with a complimentary packet of peanuts and facemask

When the pandemic forced the state government to allow sale of liquor via home delivery only, a veteran in the alco-bev industry confessed, "The pandemic has done what the industry has been lobbying for years. Finally, a landmark order, even if it is till the lockdown lasts."

The lockdown has led many enterprising masterminds to huddle, reshuffle, and create new business ideas. Last Sunday, we downloaded the two-month-old Spiritzoned app, a digital liquor store and online alcohol delivery service.

Founded by Kushal Jaiswal, the CEO of a tech company in Navi Mumbai and a retailing and distributor chain of liquor shops, along with Yash Jaiswal and Aneesh Saggar, it offers a contactless delivery model across India.

Aneesh Saggar, Kushal Jaiswal, Yash Jaiswal
Aneesh Saggar, Kushal Jaiswal, Yash Jaiswal

The team launched the idea as a phone-based model, taking orders at a call centre and forwarding a payment link to its customers. "Every call that we monitored had us realise that if a particular choice of alcohol was not available, the customer service executives could not recommend another. That is when we realised, we could change the paradigm by making it more visual than verbal. We have done 20,000 deliveries so far in Mumbai itself," he says about the end-to-end solution with a product catalogue, tracking system and free delivery. "There are around 900 relevant brands in the market but shops are not large enough to display all.

The hot-selling items usually get display and you end up buying what you lay your eyes on. But with us, it is a supermarket for every brand available at MRP," says Aneesh, who handles logistics and operations.

"It is now time to alter the future of the alcohol industry and deliver a seamless, omnichannel customer experience. Using state-of-the-art technology, we are building an AI-enabled intuitive platform to deliver alcohol safely and responsibly," Kushal adds.

We placed an order and here's how it went

The app locates the nearest liquor shop to fulfil a delivery under two hours and offers a detailed product catalogue
The app locates the nearest liquor shop to fulfil a delivery under two hours and offers a detailed product catalogue

Once signed in, the app requests you to turn on your location and locates the nearest liquor shop to fulfil a delivery under two hours. For example, if you live in Andheri West, on the backend, they will check the stores available near you and present the alcohol that can be ordered. Once you place an order, the order goes to a shop, where the staff makes sure it is packed in time and their personal delivery set up picks up the parcel and delivers it.

The app disqualifies 25 years of age at entry. We passed with flying numbers through a simple form and mobile verification, and were led to the supermarket on our screen. But at almost every step, the app jerked, forcing us to shut down and restart.

The app has been designed for ease of use and displays categories such as vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, brandy, beer, rum and wine. It allows you to filter the search and opt for price sensitive viewing. We clicked to scan the whiskey section, but the search took 40 seconds to load. When it did, it showed us a wide range from Haywards Fine Whiskey (R62) to Johnnie Walker Blue (R28,000). Each bottle has added information of alcohol percentage and region and a description about the spirit—informative value addition. The layout and categories surely broadened our choice, but the 40-second lag at every step marred the excitement. At payment, we got stuck and called customer care, where we were informed that the minimum order needs to be of R1,000.

We finally placed the order at 3.40 pm, and received a notification that it had been accepted. At 6 pm, we clicked on the call option to enquire about the delay. An SMS informed that we will have the order at our door in one or two hours. We finally received it at 8.33 pm.

Our order of a couple of beers came with a complimentary packet of peanuts and a facemask. The app is still in beta stage and work is ongoing at the backend. For the time being we will stick to ordering from our local vendor who on call, parrots what's available and delivers under 20 minutes.

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