The global rise in alcohol ecommerce

Alcohol ecommerce has been growing over the last few years, however, prior to COVID19, the key obstacle in further growth was a lack of consumer awareness. The pandemic has increased consumer awareness on the ability to buy alcohol online and the platforms in which to do so and as such, purchasing of alcohol online increased massively over the last year or so.

The top 10 countries in the ecommerce alcohol market include. Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK, USA. According to IWSR drinks market analysis data, the value of the ecommerce alcohol market in these top ten countries combined grew by an estimated 40% in 2020. China reported a volume increase in ecommerce alcohol sales of 15.2%, the US was up 133%, the UK up 18.9%, France up 43.2%, Japan up 28.4% and Brazil reported a 388.8% increase.

Developing ecommerce markets include Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Vietnam, Argentina, South Africa, Nigeria and Singapore. Canada’s ecommerce alcohol market climbed 300.6% this year and Colombia saw a 270.8% rise. Vietnam and Argentina also recorded triple-digit growth, up 125% and 223.2% respectively.

China leads the way with ecommerce alcohol sales, with their online drinks sector valued at over US$6 billion.  China’s ecommerce alcohol sales are driven by imported wine and baijiu, China’s national spirit, which together account for over 80% of sales values online. Tmall Supermarket, the online grocery service operated by Alibaba, saw US$493 million worth of drinks sales in the 12-month period from July 2019-2020. China have many online retailers, the most popular for buying alcohol include; Tmall Supermarket, JD.com, 1919.cn (which is co-owned by Alibaba), Suning.com, Lzlj.com, Yangheglobal.com and Tmall Global supermarket for imported goods.

Whilst China currently leads the way, the US is set to overtake China and become the largest alcohol ecommerce market in the world. According to IWSR, 44% of American e-shoppers began buying their booze online this year. Nearly half of consumers buying alcohol online have bought from supermarket websites or apps and a third have ordered from an immediate delivery service such as Drizly or Minibar. On the Drizly platform, spirits make up 40.8% of sales, while wine accounts for 38.2% and beer makes up 18.7%. Within the broader beer and flavoured malt beverage set, hard seltzers are the number one seller on Drizly, making up nearly 21% of segment sales.

In most other markets, wine is the dominant ecommerce category. A survey conducted in Japan in February 2019 found that close to 16 percent of consumers who drink alcohol more than once a month purchased wines online. Wines were therefore leading among alcoholic beverages in the case of online purchases. Wine is also the most popular online alcohol purchase in Australia. Australian online wine retailer Vinomofo said it had seen a 50 to 75 per cent increase in sales since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The popularity of wine online may be due to a limited selection in most regular shops, giving online retailers an advantage. Although wine is France’s largest ecommerce category, there’s also been some recent movement in beer, which is growing fast from a small base.

Whilst wine is currently the most popular category for online sales, IWSR predicts that RTD offerings — which it defines as hard seltzers, canned cocktails, and other spiked adult beverages — will represent 10% of total alcohol e-commerce sales across its 10 core markets by 2024.

It is anticipated that this new way of buying alcohol is likely to continue post pandemic, with the ecommerce market expected to be worth $40billion by 2024. In 2019, alcohol sold online represented just 1% of total off-premise volume. By 2024, IWSR predicts that 7% of alcohol sales will occur online as consumers continue shopping the virtual shelves.

The increase in alcohol sales online in many countries around the world offers a new opportunity for brands looking to export. Selling direct to online retailers could offer brands struggling to secure deals with distributors a marketplace to achieve international sales. Online platforms can also act as a shop window for brands. Once selling product through these online retailers, distributors are often more inclined to take on a brand and leading to further sales through generated through other avenues.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you could sell your brand to ecommerce sites around the world and make a start on your exporting journey, get in touch.