Three things to consider if you’re selling spirits online

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According to the International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR), the coronavirus pandemic period has accelerated online sales of alcohol, allowing spirits producers and retailers to scale up, both domestically and internationally. With the online buying trend showing no signs of easing off, ecommerce will continue to be a major revenue stream for these businesses.

Online alcohol purchases are mainly for special occasions at home or for gifting, accorfing to the IWSR. Customers require a seamless overall experience, from the moment of ordering, right through to delivery and unboxing.

If you are selling spirits online, here are three important considerations to make the most of this boom and turn occasional customers into loyal repeat buyers.

Selling spirits online requires you to understand the import/export rules

Research legislation and important regulations

For shipping purposes, alcohol is classed as a special commodity. So, you need to understand the different alcohol import laws and excise duty requirements, whether you are shipping to businesses or private consumers. This will prevent unnecessary delays at customs.

For example, the U.S. is one of the UK’s major export lanes for alcohol. However, U.S. laws for shipping alcohol differ by state. Also, the U.S. does not allow direct-to-consumer spirits shipments from the UK. You must establish a sales channel via a licensed importer, localised retailer, distributor or a marketplace to reach these customers.

To help you navigate these regulations, UPS have a dedicated spirits shipping page.

Selling spirits online starts with a great web page

Keep customer experience at the forefront

When it comes to making the most of your online sales channels and minimising cart abandonment, you need to have all your bases covered.

First, give your customers an easy online browsing and buying experience. Make sure you include all the information they may want to know about delivery options and your returns policy. In case they have any questions, you will need to offer responsive and helpful customer support. Crucially, the delivery experience should be flawless.

Differentiating your brand via an exceptional unboxing experience is key. The perfect packaging will protect the bottles in transit, allow for customisation and create that “wow” factor  when your customers open the package.

Focus on safe and sustainable packaging – whatever the size or shape of the bottle

Spirits producers are fiercely competitive in designing their bottles to stand out from the crowd. To entice buyers to choose their product, they are increasingly offering them in quirky and non-standard bottle types.

For example, gin bottles produced by the more established brands tend to be tall, slim and square, while newer players in the market are differentiating their brands with shorter, wider cylindrical bottles.

While the bottles look fantastic, they can be difficult to pack securely to ensure safe transit. This is because the space between the top of the bottle and the pack creates multiple impact points. These eventually weaken and break the bottle.

Damage in transit is a costly problem for many alcohol shippers. Off the shelf bottle packaging is often designed with more traditional bottle shapes in mind. These may not be suitable (or tested) to safely transport nonstandard bottles.

Finally, always keep it eco-friendly. According to our UPS Smart E-Commerce report 2021, 77% of UK consumers consider the environment and sustainability important when choosing who to shop with. They expect to see retailers taking steps toward carbon footprint reduction and sustainable packaging. So, if you’ve been wondering how to adopt green practices within your spirits business, why not start with sustainable packaging.

UPS joins forces with Macfarlane Packaging

UPS has joined forces with Macfarlane Packaging, to devise a range of safe and sustainable packaging options for spirits bottles. This packaging has been widely researched, tested rigorously, and certified for a vast range of bottle types. Not only that, we will refund the full value of any damage incurred in transit when shipped under a UPS Spirits contract.* Have you browsed the UPS Approved Spirits Packaging webshop yet?

As the ecommerce alcohol boom continues, you can keep your spirits high, safe in the knowledge that your bottles are protected on their way to their destination. Let’s get shipping!

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