While most people won’t find themselves in the position of needing to secure a bartender on short notice, those who do can turn to on-demand alcohol delivery company Saucey to send one straight away.
This week, the startup added push-button bartender service to its inventory, meaning amateur party planners or corporate hosts can book a professional mixologist through the Saucey mobile application or website for an upcoming gathering with just 24 hours notice.
The only catch is that users are required to book a minimum of three hours, and the bartender-delivered-to-your-doorstep convenience isn’t cheap, costing US$60 an hour (bartenders get to keep US$45-US$50 per hour with Saucey pocketing the rest).
“It’s been a hugely requested feature for a few years now,” said Chris Vaughn, the 29-year-old CEO and co-founder of Saucey. “And it plays into our goal of being your anything and everything (destination) when it comes to alcohol shopping.”
Founded in late 2013, Los Angeles-based Saucey currently delivers booze in about 30 minutes to thirsty patrons in five cities: San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and Chicago. The startup, which has disclosed US$4.8 million in funding raised to date, purports to be profitable in each of its existing markets.
While Vaughn admits the “Book a Bartender” function caters to a select few, he suspects the option will keep Saucey top of mind for customers who want the reassurance that, should they ever need a barkeep, they can have one without having to request quotes from a multitude of other providers.
Saucey competes with a growing number of delivery apps dispatching beer, wine and spirits at a moment’s notice. This peripheral alcohol industry includes heavyweights such as Amazon, as well as Postmates, a more recognizable name in the delivery space. Rival app Minibar even offers its own book-a-bartender feature.
Where Saucey claims to excel is with a logistics platform that ensures both speedy deliveries for customers and more money for couriers, who work as independent contractors and are paid per order.
“We have more than 2,000 couriers who do far more orders per hour on Saucey than they do on other platforms,” Vaughn insisted.
Couriers, he added, average more than two deliveries per hour and can tackle as many five during peak demand periods.
Overall, alcohol sales may be big business for offline retailers — liquor stores in the U.S. collectively pull in about US$50 billion per year, for instance — but the online sales market is only starting to take shape with annual industry revenue totaling US$614 million, according to market research firm IBISWorld.
Vaughn, of course, views this as an opportunity, as alcohol brands, he said, are just beginning to think about e-commerce. And some, including Anheuser-Busch, have turned to the 25-person startup for help with digital marketing.
There is also the growing awareness among American shoppers that whatever they want can be bought through a smartphone app and delivered in minutes — so long as they can stomach a bit of a lazy tax. Saucey, for instance, may not tack on a delivery surcharge but item prices appear to be costlier than what shoppers are used to spending at retail outfits.
But, then again, you can’t pick up a bartender at your neighbourhood grocer.
To celebrate the Memorial Day weekend, Saucey is gifting its customers who spend more than US$300 on an order before May 29 with three hours of bartender credit.