Food and drink is as ageless an interest as time itself. Thanks to the growth of the Internet and related technology, selling food online is simpler than ever. You can turn your hobby into your profession with some extra money and commitment. Selling baked goods online or learning how to sell cookies online can be lucrative if you have great recipes and persistence.
Perhaps beverages are your passion and you’d rather learn how to sell wine online, sell beer online, or sell whiskey online. No matter your reason for selling alcohol online, it’s a great market to step into.
eCommerce growth for the liquor market increased by 11% in 2019 and then surged by over 230% in 2020, due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic. Total alcohol sales via eCommerce reached $6 billion in the US and are expected to continue growing by around 20% for the next year or two. The total market value of eCommerce liquor sales in the US increased by over 80% during 2020.
Starting an eCommerce business to sell liquor can be an exciting, rewarding adventure. You need to get the appropriate licensing, fill out paperwork, and build a powerhouse marketing plan to make it work. Keep reading to learn what goes into this modern and flexible eCommerce niche.
Can You Sell Liquor Online?
With proper legal and business documentation, you can sell liquor online. Now is a great time to enter this market as well, with eCommerce as a whole expected to grow by 15-30% year-over-year (YoY). Buyers are now fully accustomed to shopping for almost anything they need online.
Each state’s liquor laws differ, and this includes online liquor sales. Having a restaurant liquor license is different from an eCommerce license, which is also different from a shipping license.
Before you can start selling your favorite beverages to customers, you’ll need all applicable licenses. Continue reading for information on how to get this licensing.
License to Sell Liquor Online
Setting your liquor business up for success includes being on good terms with the government. Here is the documentation and licensure needed for your eCommerce venture:
- Alcohol dealer’s registration (ADR). This paperwork proves to the government and customers that you’re a lawful seller of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can’t be purchased by someone under the age of 21 in the US, so this is a crucial legal protection for your business. This document also puts your business on the map with the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
- A retailer license. This is the document that allows you to conduct business in the state that your company operates. It’s basically the government’s way of giving businesses permission to start selling.
- One or more shipping licenses. A shipping license is the government’s way of approving your business to send alcohol to customers. If you only plan to ship alcohol in the same state as your business, you’ll only need one shipping license. If you want to expand nationwide, you’ll need to acquire eCommerce shipping licenses for as many states as you want to sell to.
Once these documents are fulfilled, you’ll have all the paperwork necessary to sell liquor online. If you haven’t yet gotten your employer identification number (EIN), eCommerce business insurance, or an eCommerce business license, you should do this. An EIN is required and the other types of paperwork protect your business and profits.
You should also research the best banks for eCommerce business. Selecting the right bank prevents unnecessary fees, offers convenience, and ensures you have all the tools you need to generate sales.
If you're selling liquor through BlueCart eCommerce, you can connect your account to your eCommerce store to get paid instantly when you sell products.
How to Sell Liquor Online
Getting your paperwork completed is an exciting milestone because it means you’re in the clear to build a business. Creating a sales and marketing engine takes time to perfect but should always be at the forefront of your efforts.
Here’s what’s involved in how to sell liquor online:
Get Your eCommerce Platform Set Up
Every successful business needs a kick-butt website. You can use a headless eCommerce platform or a site with front-to-back integration, but the most important thing is that it works for your customers.
Websites always need to be tweaked over time, but you should have one that efficiently and powerfully serves the needs of your customers. These are the necessary functions and features of any website:
- Fast page loading
- Simple navigability
- Professional imagery
- Security features for sensitive information, like payments
- Easily identifiable contact form
- Built with DTC food in mind
Create a Marketing Plan
To stand out in the crowded sea of eCommerce food and drink, you’re going to need a stellar eCommerce marketing plan. Every business is different. However, you can tap into the psychological principles of persuading buyers with the following strategies:
- Know your branding extremely well. Customers can see through a brand that is not consistent with itself. If you know what makes your business stand out, it will be far easier to attract the right customers. Whether you sell wine meant for regular consumption or special occasions, your products should be presented in a way that intuitively communicates this.
- Understand what your ideal buyer wants. Are there a lot of wine enthusiasts in your audience who want the best? Do you cater to shoppers overwhelmed and confused by all of the wine names and wine varietals? No matter who is shopping on your site, you should be positioning yourself in a human and helpful way. Enthusiasts don’t want to spend time reading about the basics, and first-time wine buyers may think you’re snobby if you’re bragging about the finesse of your drinks. Use an independent survey of some kind to ensure you aren’t using the wrong language for your audience.
- Use attraction marketing, not push marketing. Attraction marketing is any eCommerce marketing strategy that naturally or intuitively draws people closer to what you’re selling. Examples of attraction marketing include blogging, social media posts, video testimonials, eCommerce content marketing, and incentive programs. The reason this works so well instead of push marketing is because it encourages customers to learn more about your brand on their own. If you’re constantly shouting at people to buy your stuff, they will distance themselves from your brand.
Go Where Your Customers Are
Generating awareness and interest in your company is an obstacle that all kinds of business owners struggle with. Many entrepreneurs believe that buyers will come to their site if it looks snazzy or has great products.
Unfortunately, this is not how human nature works. People need to have quite a bit of familiarity with your brand before they decide to buy. Instead of expecting people to simply show up to your website, you should actively reach out to them in multiple ways. This is especially true if you're in a popular niche, like selling coffee online.
A powerful way of attracting new leads is borrowing someone else’s audience. Numerous successful businesses and influencers offer sponsored shoutouts for companies of a similar nature. The key here is to fully grasp your audience’s characteristics and what they’re most likely to appreciate.
As a liquor business, you may consider advertising on a sports network, in food magazines, or throughout media consumed by men. These are considered some of the most effective channels for sharing new alcohol products as they’re closely related to target markets’ other interests.
Strive for Excellence
It should go without saying, but professional presence and top-tier products are responsible for creating successful brands. It’s unwise to expect customers to purchase your goods merely because you sell something popular. Your products need to have a personality of their own and offer an experience that can’t be found elsewhere.
A great way to enhance your company’s excellence is using customer surveys. Customers generally enjoy sharing their opinion and will be more inclined to do so if your survey is brief and easily understood.
Where Can I Sell Liquor Online?
When it’s time to attract interest in your liquor brand, it’s important to know what online avenues to use. Thanks to eCommerce growth trends and consumers’ desire for convenience, it’s easier than it ever has been to reach buyers.
There are many places you can sell liquor online. Here are some of the most commonly used:
BlueCart’s eCommerce platform is built with your key marketing objectives in mind. Track all of your sales and optimize your products for mobile and web visibility all in one place.
A Great Business Opportunity
Alcoholic drinks are cultural centerpieces for weddings, celebrations, anniversaries, and parties. The average American drinks about 2.3 gallons of alcohol across a year, which is up 0.3 gallons since the 1910s.
If these numbers indicate anything, they show that the eCommerce alcohol niche won’t be slowing down any time soon. Keep providing top-notch customer service and superior drinks to your buyers and you can’t go wrong. Learn how to sell products online with our all-inclusive guide.
Disclaimer: This information does not function or serve as a replacement to legal reference materials. It is intended for educational or informational purposes for personal use only. Conduct your own research or consult with a lawyer to make sure your business is in full compliance with every federal, state, and local law.