By Josh Jacobs
Co-Founder and CEO, Speakeasy Co.
If I said robots, AI, and online celebrity drops, you almost certainly would not jump to the alcohol industry. That’s because just back in 2019, digital was at its infancy and e-commerce represented a fraction of a single percent of total sales. However, one pandemic and one gargantuan leap later, we find ourselves amid a technological revolution.
Ice+Fries in Reykjavík is a glimpse of the future. Patrons who enter the bar choose from 20,000 customizable cocktail recipes, submit orders via tablets, and receive confirmation notifications without any human interaction, all thanks to Toni the robotic bartender. Toni can whip up 150 cocktails per hour, handling the most complex bartender motions, from shaking, to stirring, muddling, and even serving. The best part is that Toni never tires from mixing drinks or hearing the inebriated guy at the bar recite the same story over and over. One robotics company cited a tenfold increase in demand since the pandemic began, including waiters and drink delivery robots in addition to bartenders like Toni.
Modern technology not only takes orders, but somehow also knows us better than we know ourselves. Have you ever stood in the wine aisle and chosen a bottle by price, the name, or even the coolest label? Well, you are not alone, but fortunately the brightest also struggle with choosing wines, and they were able to do something about it. Scientists at Tastry are demystifying wine recommendations with an astonishing 92% accuracy. The sensory sciences company tackles the miraculous by decoding aroma and flavor profiles through chemical analysis and mashes this up with unique consumer palates generated through a quiz on their app. Tastry’s artificial intelligence technology not only solves the wine-aisle dilemma, but also provides valuable insights to winemakers and retailers seeking to leverage analytics to boost sales.
Technology is becoming front and center in the alcohol industry and playing a role in everyday transactions as well through e-commerce. Within Speakeasy Co., one of the company’s largest milestones over the past year centered around the Tesla Tequila online launch. Building a platform that Elon Musk’s 59M Twitter followers would not crash and that would not slow during a seamless checkout experience without a waiting line was no small feat. The launch, nor the platform developed in-house by Speakeasy Co.'s technology team, let consumers down, resulting in tens of millions of hits to the site and selling of tens of thousands of lightning bolt shaped bottles across two launches, with the second selling out in less than 45 minutes. We believe our technology is a competitive advantage and differentiator from other players who utilize third party software and outsource their technology.
We are not the only ones noticing the one-eighty. Dimitrios Liassidis and Olga Gareeva hit on the four major shifts in their Wall Street Journal piece titled Digital Revolution Stirs Up Alcohol Industry. Liassidis and Gareeva highlight two of the major shifts in alcohol being “an accelerated shift to e-commerce” and “unprecedented level of innovation, as bars and restaurants race to create new offerings.”
Whether a robot delivers the package, AI recommends the alcohol, or you buy it from a celebrity launch online, Speakeasy Co. looks forward to playing a part through world-class technology and continuing to empower alcohol brands.