Drizly vs. Uber Eats: We put alcohol deliveries to the test
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On Tuesday, Uber finalized a deal to acquire on-demand alcohol delivery service Drizly. On the surface, the announcement was exciting news for customers as Uber teased new benefits and perks for its rewards and subscription members. Although unconfirmed, this could potentially bring a valuable new perk for some American Express cardholders (more on that later).
However, if you haven’t ordered alcohol online before, there’s a good chance you’re wondering: What even is Drizly, anyway? For starters, it’s quite different from other delivery apps, such as Uber Eats, in that it doesn’t deliver anything itself. Rather, it provides stores with technology that enables them to deliver alcohol on-demand.
We here at TPG were curious how Drizzly and Uber Eats stack up, so we compared them head-to-head. We had three staffers place the same or comparable orders on Drizzly and Uber Eats and compare the prices, delivery times and more.
Senior credit cards editor Benét Wilson tested the apps in San Antonio, Texas, social media lead Caitlin Riddell used them in Brooklyn, while I tried them in Manhattan — just a few miles apart in New York City.
Here’s what we found.
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It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Drizly — the company that specializes in alcohol delivery — had a much greater selection than Uber Eats.
Drizly offers the widest selection of beer, wine and spirits online, including many items that are sometimes hard to find in stores. With Drizly, by default, you browse by item. Then, similar to shopping on Amazon, you get to choose which store you want to place your order from. If the item you want isn’t available nearby, you can have it shipped to you.
With Uber Eats, on the other hand, you browse by store — not item. If you’re looking for a specific item or want to compare prices, you need to browse each store’s selection separately.
Overall, based on our experiences, there are far fewer liquor stores listed on Uber Eats than Drizly. Additionally, for the stores listed on both sites, Uber Eats’ selection tends to be smaller. For instance, while some stores have thousands of products listed on Drizly, they might only have a couple dozen on Uber Eats. We found that it’s much harder to find higher-end bottles and more unique drinks on Uber Eats. While big names like Titos and Bacardi were widely available, local beers and hard seltzers were harder to find. I was hoping to order an On The Rocks (OTR) cocktail but couldn’t find it via Uber Eats.
Another issue was that not all liquor stores listed on Uber Eats were necessarily available. Despite being open, some stores showed “currently unavailable” or “no couriers nearby.” Since stores fulfill and deliver Drizly orders themselves, it’s less likely to see these types of messages during normal business hours.
Benet ended up ordering two types of prosecco, Caitlin ordered a red wine and I ordered tequila.
Aside from selection, Drizly came out ahead on price.
While most stores marked up prices on Uber Eats, Drizly’s prices matched those offered in-store. It’s not just alcohol prices that get marked up on Uber Eats, either. As TPG’s Richard Kerr pointed out, it’s not uncommon for restaurants to mark up their menu items on food delivery apps like Uber Eats.
Then come delivery and service fees.
Drizly typically charges a flat $4.99 for delivery (this may be higher for ground shipping), though in New York City, most stores offer it for free. Meanwhile, with Uber Eats, delivery fees vary by store and distance, but they’re typically under $5. However, as you’ll see below, due to a promotion Uber Eats was offering when we placed our orders, none of the TPG staffers paid a delivery fee.
For service fees, Drizly charges a flat $1.99, regardless of the order size. Uber Eats, on the other hand, charges variable service fees, depending on the market. They can equal up to 15% of your order subtotal, subject to a minimum of $2. In New York City, the current fee is a flat $2.10 plus 5% of your order’s subtotal. In Texas, it’s equal to 10% of your subtotal, with a $3 minimum.
You can consistently get $0 delivery fees and 5% off orders over $15 on Uber Eats with an Eats Pass membership (taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward order minium). The subscription usually costs $9.99 per month, but you select Amex cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card now offer complimentary access to Eats Pass. (Must enroll by December 31, 2021 and auto-bill starts 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer, at then-current monthly rate.) Both of these cards also offer monthly Uber Cash, which could be used towards Uber Eats orders in the U.S.
One main difference between the apps is that stores typically have a minimum spend requirement on Drizly. This requirement is usually around $20 but can be upwards of $40. Uber Eats doesn’t have any minimums but may charge you a small order fee. This fee varies by city but is either $2 for subtotals less than $10 or $3 for subtotals less than $15.
I ordered a bottle of Espolòn Tequila Blanco from the same store via Drizly and Uber Eats. Here’s how my receipts broke down (not including tip):
|Espolòn Tequila Blanco, 750ml||$30.99||$35.19|
While I’m glad I had a promo code and some newly deposited Uber Cash credit to bring down the cost of my Uber Eats order, overall, it was still about 18% more expensive than through Drizly. The price difference would have been even larger had Uber Eats charge a delivery fee.
There were stores on Drizly that offered slightly cheaper bottles, but they had higher minimum spending.
Caitlin ordered a bottle of Meiomi Pinot Noir. To broaden our comparison, she ordered the same bottle from different stores on Drizly and Uber Eats.
|Meiomi Pinot Noir||$25.00||$31.99|
Once again, the prices and service fees were higher on Uber Eats than Drizly. All in all, Caitlin paid a roughly 13% premium on Uber Eats.
Finally, Benet ordered three bottles of Mionetto Prosecco on Drizly and two bottles of La Marca Prosecco from a different store on Uber Eats.
In this case, it’s a bit more difficult two compare the price mark-up since Benet ordered two different types of prosecco. However, the brands were comparable. So the fact that three bottles via Drizly cost less than two bottles via Uber Eats says something. That being said, the price difference doesn’t seem as significant as the previous examples and Uber charges lower service fees in Texas than in some other markets. Nevertheless, Drizly gets the edge here since it included an extra bottle and had a lower total.
Now, delivery time is one area where there’s no clear winner.
Unlike Uber Eats, which uses its large network of delivery partners to fulfill orders, Drizly leaves stores responsible for delivering orders. There are pros and cons to both of these methods. In some cases, orders may deliver faster when being delivered directly by the store. Meanwhile, it’s also possible for orders to sometimes take longer since a store might not have as many delivery drivers or choose to wait for more orders to come in so that they can make multiple deliveries at once. As mentioned earlier, with Uber Eats, there’s the possibility that no couriers are available during peak periods.
Caitlin and Benet had both of their orders arrive within minutes of each other — both within the promised delivery windows. Ironically, Caitlin received a notification that her Drizly order was being delivered by DoorDash. This was likely because the store didn’t have its own couriers.
I, on the other hand, had a slightly different experience. My Uber Eats order arrived on-time, 35 minutes after I placed my order. Meanwhile, my Drizly order took over an hour to arrive and was about 20 minutes later than the estimated delivery time.
Ultimately, your experience can vary by store and market, so we’ll be giving the two services a tie for this category.
Drizly and Uber Eats allow you to place orders via desktop and mobile. Additionally, they both allow you to schedule orders for a later time. However, beyond that, Uber Eats leads the way.
Although both services technically let you track your orders, Uber Eats’ tracking system is much more intuitive. Similar to the rides app, you can track your Uber Eats orders on a map in real-time.
Drizly is supposed to tell you when an order is packed, en route and delivered (no live map). However, the store never updated my order’s status, so even once it was delivered, Drizly’s system showed that my order was still at the store.
Also, while Drizly sometimes appears on online shopping portals, it doesn’t offer a rewards program like how Uber Eats does. Uber Rewards offers points on every Eats order and lets you redeem them for free meals and more.
Winner: Uber Eats
When it comes to ordering alcohol delivery, the three most important factors are selection, price and speed. While Drizly and Uber Eats offered similar delivery times, Drizly came out ahead in the other areas.
While we’ll have to wait to see what the acquisition means for customers, this news could ultimately be good all around. Uber Eats will expand its alcohol selection and browsing system, while Drizly will benefit from Uber’s technology for better order tracking and possibly faster deliveries. Additionally, eligible Amex cardholders may potentially have a new way to redeem their monthly Uber credits.
All that being said, it’s certainly possible that there will be no major customer-facing changes, as was the case when Uber acquired Postmates. Although Drizly will eventually be integrated within the Uber Eats app, Uber says that Drizly will also retain its own, separate app. Also, as is currently the case with some restaurants, Uber Eats will likely let liquor stores continue to use their own delivery staff if they want. Let’s just hope stores don’t start to markup their prices.
Featured image by GUNDAM_Ai/Shutterstock.
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