Secrets to Successful Alcohol Delivery: How to Minimize Risk and Protect Your Business

In recent years, alcohol ecommerce surged throughout the U.S. as 27 states made legislative reforms to permanently allow or substantially extend some type of alcohol delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2023 and 2027, ecommerce alcohol sales revenue in the U.S. is forecast to continuously increase by nearly 21%, with 2027 total revenue expected to reach $20.48 billion.

Worldwide, ecommerce alcohol sales followed a similar trend, growing 43% in 2020. Across 16 markets, sales are predicted to grow by more than a third to reach nearly $40 billion by 2026, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.  

With its years of operational experience in alcohol delivery, wine stands to be an example for other categories growing their online business. There is much to consider, from rules and regulations that vary by state and even city as well as delivery protocols for efficiency and safeguarding against the sale of alcohol for underage consumption.

For example, Total Wine & More completes thousands of alcohol deliveries per day in several cities across America using the Onfleet last mile delivery management platform to make safe and efficient home deliveries. 

“Onfleet provides Total Wine & More with powerful routing and analytics tools to enable our own Total Wine & More associates to provide a world-class delivery experience,” says Tom Kooser, CIO at Total Wine & More. “Our partnership has allowed Total Wine to also expand our delivery program into several markets and sets a foundation for future growth.”

A significant part of expanding into new markets is understanding the rules and regulations of each city and state. One law common to every state is identity and age verification. This law requires the driver to confirm the identity and age of the customer receiving the alcohol upon delivery. Using Onfleet’s proof of delivery feature, which includes digital ID scanning and ID verification protocols, Total Wine & More was able to expand its offering while ensuring its alcohol delivery is both safe and compliant.

Companies that don’t follow state rules and regulations around alcohol sales are putting their business at risk and could face legal ramifications, impacting their brand reputation and the company’s bottom line. 

For example, a 2020 investigation by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control revealed that third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates are routinely delivering alcoholic beverages to minors. During the investigation, the department placed 200 alcoholic beverage orders through on-demand third-party delivery companies. In 4 out of 5 deliveries, the delivery driver failed to check IDs, which shows that alcohol delivery can pose risks for the underaged.

In California, alcohol retailers are ultimately responsible for delivering alcoholic beverages away from their premises, despite who makes the delivery. While this rule may vary by state, it’s safe to say that more control is better than less when dealing with regulated products. 

Instead of outsourcing to third parties, alcohol retailers can take delivery into their own hands, exerting more control over the process and minimizing business risk. Whether alcohol retailers outsource drivers or use in-house employees, having oversight of the delivery process and ID verification protocols can ensure the highest level of compliance. Sourcing delivery management software can be an efficient and effective way to kick off in-house delivery operations.

As the alcohol delivery sector keeps growing, alcohol retailers that want to stay competitive will look for ways to optimize and safeguard their delivery operations. Compliance and control are the secrets to successful alcohol delivery. Taking steps now to control the delivery experience will ensure that compliance goals are met while protecting business assets and the bottom line.

Carleen Geisler is a Marketing Manager with Onfleet, a San Francisco-based technology company that helps businesses streamline their delivery operations. Onfleet’s software powers millions of deliveries per week for thousands of businesses around the world.