A guide to selling alcohol online
It's fair to say the UK is a nation of drinkers, with only one fifth of British adults choosing to avoid alcohol altogether. Whether it's a glass of wine with dinner, or a few beers in the pub, it seems we can't get enough.
With the government rightly clamping down on binge drinking culture, however, it seems the focus has shifted from quantity to quality for many people. Craft beers are a big deal these days, as is traditional cider. Even gin is enjoying a resurgence.
The internet is playing a big part in this. New e-retailers are popping up all over the net, promising to deliver brilliant beverages and terrific tipples directly to drinkers' doors.
The data to prove it
Forgive the pun, but consumers are lapping it up. UK e-retail association IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) conducted a study in March 2015, and found that online alcohol sales have risen 42 per cent year-on-year, with web users flocking to buy their ales and wines from the army of new e-sellers. Could the days of "nipping down the offy" be numbered?
Don't get us wrong, this isn't a case of just buying four cans of weak lager and a cheap bottle of Scotch from Amazon Marketplace - retailers are taking the time to offer something of true value, as the examples below show.
Born in London around two years ago, DeskBeers
is dedicated to sending offices (and individuals, if they so desire) boxes of beer to distribute among employees. Along with giving the chance to discover great new ales of all kinds, these packages of hop-filled joy are designed to bring workmates closer together, to enhance internal networking.
According to company bosses, as many as 1,500 cans and bottles are sent to thirsty workers every week, and expansion plans are already in place. Soon, the service will be available to drinkers all around the country.
2. Naked Wines
works a little differently. Here, customers pledge £20 a month to a fund, which is then used by the company to invest in "talented, independent winemakers." In exchange, they get access to exclusive wines at wholesale prices. More than 100 winemakers are involved in the service, with close to 300 different bottles on offer.
At present, the Norwich-based firm operates throughout the UK, the US and Australia, working under the Majestic Wine umbrella. It competes in a busy arena, with big names like Virgin and Laithwaites also offering similar services.
3. The Whisky Exchange
Prefer spirits over beer and wine? You might be better visiting The Whisky Exchange
, where, despite the name, you'll find all kinds of strong drinks. Here there's a drink to suit all budgets; you could, for example, spend £1.50 on a bottle of bitter, or ditch your house in favour of a £55,000 bottle of 50-year-old Scotch whisky.
Like any good store, The Whisky Exchange offers customers a range of delivery options, and we're pretty sure they package their goods pretty securely. You'd certainly hope so, with something that costs as much as a Porsche.
How to sell alcohol online
Talking of packaging, that's something you need to consider carefully if you're going to start sell alcohol from your own online store. First and foremost, glass bottles can get heavy when they're full - a lot heavier than they look. More than this, though, they're fragile; any heavy knocks could cause enough damage to ruin the product completely. And, if it's down to your poor packaging efforts, you'll be expected to give a refund.
It's fine to use a cardboard box, but you'll need to include some kind of cushioning material, as well as a leak-proof liner to ensure nothing gets out should there be a spillage. Beyond this, you'll need to add a 'Fragile' sticker to the front of the parcel, so that carriers know to be extra careful with it.
There are also a few rules to consider. Most courier companies - us included - won't allow you to send anything above one litre in volume, for example. It's also important to pay attention to the alcohol by volume (ABV) rating, as you're not permitted to send anything above 70 per cent. This drops to 24 per cent for international shipping, where alcoholic beverages are also considered 'no compensation' items under our terms and conditions.
Be thorough with your packaging and adhere to the rules above and there's no reason why you can't start capitalising on consumers' growing tastes for quality booze!
Also see related content...
Sending parcels to the UK
Sending parcels internationally