Craft Distilleries Are Finding Unique Ways to Sell Their Booze Online

Stifled by archaic liquor laws, brands are turning to a new type of e-commerce

order booze online
Distilleries are trying to make it easier to order booze online
Matt Dutile / Getty Images

Back in May a Nielsen investigation suggested that the U.S. alcohol market would need to “sustain 22% volume growth across all alcohol categories sold off premise” to mitigate the impact of closed bars and restaurants during COVID-19.

Translation: The booze industry would need to see an unparalleled increase in other types of sales besides those associated with going out. So e-commerce suddenly became a bigger deal.

And while that’s good for upstarts like alcohol and cocktail delivery services (see the exponential increase in business with sites like Minibar Delivery and Cocktail Courier), it’s been a hard time for craft distilleries.

The problems include getting these spirits onto third-party delivery sites and navigating tricky state laws, which are (thankfully) loosening up a bit to allow some direct sales.

Another option? Bridging the gap between direct sales and third-party vendors. As VinePair notes, this means distilleries are utilizing sites like as BarcartPassion Spirits, and Speakeasy to sell their spirits on their site, but still off-loading the back-end and fulfillment work to another company.

Barcart provides e-commerce for over 50 booze brands

As Ryan Malkin at VinePair explains:

In Barcart’s white-label model, consumers visit a brand’s website and see a ‘purchase now’ or ‘buy now option.’ When a consumer clicks that link, it takes the person to a branded shopping cart. The URL changes without the consumer necessarily knowing it. The shopping cart lives on the third-party marketing company’s platform.

So while the consumer thinks they are, say, purchasing a bottle of bourbon directly from Barrell Bourbon’s website, they’re actually interacting with a third-party marketer that’s working with licensed liquor stores and retailers to fulfill your order (and that third party is the one responsible for complying with all applicable liquor laws).

Some day, pandemic or not, ordering a bottle of booze online hopefully won’t involve this type of (legal) runaround. But any service that makes it easier for a consumer to interact even somewhat directly with a distillery during these difficult times is a worthy service.


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