TORONTO — A new smartphone app hopes to convince more Canadians to have wine, beer and spirits delivered to their home.
As more people become accustomed to hailing cabs and ordering pizza with their smartphones, New York-based technology company Thirstie says it has found a corner of the home delivery business that is mostly untapped.
Thirstie is testing its alcohol-on-demand app in both Toronto and Ottawa, starting Tuesday. The app will be available on phones using the Android operating system first, while a version for Apple's iPhone will be rolled out later this week.
The way Thirstie works is similar to most other delivery apps: users scroll through a selection of products, place the order on their phone and await delivery.
Thirstie will rely on partners — mainly the licensed alcohol delivery companies that have been working in the community for years — to bring the bottles to your door. The delivery fee is about $10 per order and hours of operation vary by city.
Thirstie CEO Devaraj Southworth said the app is filling a technological void where most alcohol delivery services have fallen short.
"Do one or two of them have an app? Yes. Is it necessarily where it should be or what we've developed? Not even close,'' he said in an interview.
In addition to selling alcohol, Thirstie offers a variety of cocktail recipes designed to inspire new drinks and encourage shoppers to head to the virtual checkout with bigger orders.
The app will also have age verification measures that requires a user to input a birth date before ordering through the service. Customers would also be carded at the door by the delivery company, which is a typical practice, and charged a restocking fee if they are found to be underage, Southworth said.
"We do everything possible to let the user know this is something we take extremely seriously, but at the end of the day it's still the responsibility of the (delivery) company,'' he added.
In Canada, most alcohol delivery companies don't support web orders and require customers to make a phone call.
Alternatives have been limited across most of the country, especially when it comes to last-minute shopping. One of the few exceptions is Quebec's provincial liquor retailer, SAQ, which offers home deliveries through Canada Post, though shipping will take days.
Ontario's LCBO hasn't rolled out a website for home deliveries, but spokeswoman Christine Bujold said plans for a delivery option will be disclosed "in the coming months'' as part of a stronger focus on e-commerce.
In Toronto, food delivery service Grocery Gateway, which is owned by supermarket chain Longo's, has a limited selection of wine and spirits on its website.
Thirstie says it plans a more widespread rollout across 27 Ontario cities before the end of January.