The Online Opportunity for Alcohol Brands in 2021

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a seismic impact on the world of e-commerce. By some accounts, the pandemic accelerated e-commerce adoption five years into the future in a matter of months. 

Nowhere was this acceleration felt more strongly than the food and beverage industry, as it quickly became the fastest-growing category in online retail. 

But the segment with the most opportunity within food and beverage is alcohol. In May of 2020, online alcohol sales shot up by 243%, according to eMarketer. And while that initial spike has receded in the months since, it’s clear that online alcohol sales have carved out a more meaningful portion of the channel mix going forward. Based on new IWSR research, the value of alcohol e-commerce is forecasted to increase by 42% this year, across 10 core markets, to reach $24 billion.

For alcohol brands, retailers and distributors, the full potential of online sales and distribution seems limitless — and has only begun to be tapped into. 

The challenge for alcohol brands

E-commerce presents a unique opportunity for alcohol brands. But selling alcohol online also presents very unique challenges. Laws dating back to Prohibition created a three-tier distribution system that separates brands from retailers. To ensure that the alcohol brand has no retail relationship with the retailer, the brand is forced to sell its products through a distributor or wholesaler.

Online marketplaces like Drizly (recently acquired by Uber), Instacart, Minibar and Vivino also act as digital storefronts and are fueling much of the increase in online alcohol sales. 

Depending on what their local laws allow, alcohol brands are only left with three scenarios when displaying purchase options to interested consumers:

  • Brand displays retailers only 
  • Brand displays marketplaces (and marketplace apps) only
  • Brand displays both retailers and marketplace apps

The opportunity for alcohol brands

More than anything, your consumers want an easy, seamless purchase experience. So give them one. That strategy starts by meeting those interested consumers where they browse and spend time. On mobile devices. On social platforms. And via marketplace apps. 

Creating a more seamless buying experience will improve your brand equity, cultivate more loyal customers and ultimately generate more revenue for your brand(s).

Make Your Digital Campaigns (& Website) Shoppable

ChannelAdvisor’s Shoppable Media solution keeps interested consumers on their path to purchase — from your website or digital campaigns — by providing a seamless and dynamic connection to your preferred retailers.

Shoppable Media is built specifically for social, display, video, email, influencers, your brand website, and multimedia campaigns. For multimedia, we can deliver unlimited campaigns with branded landing pages that direct interested consumers directly to your preferred retailers or marketplace apps. 

Or you can use our exclusive Dynamic Shopping Links to link to an in-stock retailer automatically, with no landing page.

Specific for alcohol, we have built a dynamic experience that allows your brand to abide by local alcohol rules while still enabling e-commerce nationwide.  Plus, we have sales data from most retailers and delivery apps.

Show Your Website Visitors Where to Buy

Coupled with Shoppable Media, our Where to Buy technology for your website gives your customers a seamless experience across any touchpoint. With Where to Buy Online, you can send ready-to-buy shoppers directly to your products on retail sites. 

And our Where to Buy Local functionality shows consumers how to find your products at brick-and-mortar stores close to them with near-real-time stock status (from our partnership with Nielsen). As click-and-collect (or buy online, pick up in-store) options grow in popularity with consumers, you can even work these details into your promotions. 

Interested in learning more? 

To find out more about ChannelAdvisor and how we can help you grow your business, request a demo and one of our e-commerce consultants will be in touch.