In the US alone, consumers spend more than USD230 billion annually on alcoholic beverages, according to the US Department of Commerce. While today just a tiny portion of alcohol sales is conducted online, the category is poised for spirited growth in the coming years.
Plenty of factors point to increasing demand for alcohol sales online. Perhaps the biggest impetus is the ongoing shift in retail sales from brick-and-mortar to digital. A growing roster of stores with click-and-collect programs and the emergence of mobile apps that offer instant gratification through on-demand delivery are certain to drive more alcohol sales online.
An expanding population of drinking-age consumers provides another boon. It’s hard to overlook the coming of age of 75+ million millennials – and that’s only in the US. The youngest millennials turned 21 in 2015. These tech-savvy consumers expect to buy beer, wine and spirits over the Internet or with the tap of a smartphone just as they do any other product.
In contrast to most other consumer goods, however, some unique challenges are inherent to the alcohol category. Age-gating, for example, is a huge obstacle to selling alcohol online. And in the US, a legally mandated tiered distribution system and laws restricting delivery of alcohol across state lines present barriers for a category ready to soar online.
Nonetheless, alcohol sales growth via the web looks inevitable. eCommerce is making an impact on just about every industry imaginable, and alcohol looks set to be the next sector to be disrupted by the continued shift to digital.
As consumer demand increases, online models evolve and efforts to sell alcohol online expand, alcohol brands that address and meet changing consumer needs, wants & shopping patterns will be best positioned to tap the online alcohol opportunity.