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Alcohol Ecommerce - An Interesting Trend?

 

The alcohol ecommerce landscape is starting to take shape. Many states in the US have already passed laws encouraging online retailers to sell alcohol in the same way as they would sell other products and services. In addition, many of these states are experimenting with enabling retailers to offer lower priced alcohol - often at a discount - to customers. For those that operate online, this can provide significant cost savings. However, it is also creating a problematic situation for consumers, especially when retailers continue to charge such high markups.
 
The problem faced by alcohol ecommerce companies in the next decade will be increased online drinking. Alcohol industry experts anticipate that as soon as 2021, more than half of all marketed beverages will be available over the internet. As more people turn to online ordering, it will become harder for retailers to control costs. It may be even harder to protect consumers from bad advertising or inappropriate product packaging and promotion. The result could be higher alcohol-related costs.
 
Concerns about binge drinking have prompted several state legislatures to pass bills limiting alcohol ecommerce sales. In California, for instance, the Senate recently passed a bill, the California bill on alcohol ecommerce, which will implement a new age limit for buying and consuming alcohol. Similarly, in Colorado both chambers of the state legislature are considering bills that would increase state taxation on liquor and beer. Similarly, in Maine the Maine State House is debating a bill that would increase the tax on all forms of alcohol.
 
Concerns about alcohol ecommerce sales have also surfaced among restaurant owners worried about losing sales and revenues caused by an increase in online alcohol consumption. Restaurant owners have begun pushing for legislation that would force retailers to sell their products through local warehouses that would retain and distribute alcohol directly to consumers. Some restaurants are pushing for such legislation as a way to take control of their alcohol sales. Others see it as a way for retailers such as liquor stores to increase their profits by "renting" alcohol directly to consumers. In other words, instead of having the retailer keep the alcohol behind a counter or in a storage facility the alcohol would be kept at the retailer's facility and then shipped to the consumer through whatever legal means are agreed upon between the retailer and the manufacturer of the alcohol. Look for more facts about ecommerce at http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/04/tech/web/tomorrow-transformed-china-ecommerce/.
 
There are some concerns about the negative effects such legislation would have on the online shopping experience. One argument is that because the retailer would be retaining all of the alcohol, the end user would not see any difference in the price of the product. The concern is that the retailer would simply be passing the cost along to consumers in the form of higher prices. Another argument is that some customers may choose not to shop online if they feel the service was negatively affected by the introduction of a more direct relationship between the retailer and end consumer. Such a system might create a better shopping experience for some customers but could alienate others who prefer to do their shopping online and have a more hands-on approach. Many drinkers already feel less inclined to shop online, so this factor could potentially turn off current customers and drive up overall traffic to alcohol retail locations.
 
Some groups have proposed to make sales of alcoholic beverages as a privilege rather than a right. In other words, some people would be allowed to purchase the product for consumption but others would be limited to purchasing for their own private consumption. This type of system might be more successful at fighting the current alcohol pandemic than ecommerce solutions would be. Since more people are now buying their alcohol in bottle form online than ever before there is no real reason not to have a legal alcohol brand presence in a physical store location as well. It just makes good common sense. Know what are dark stores here!