Ever-evolving state alcohol laws have made it easier than ever to sell alcohol online. That makes the answer to the question “can you sell alcohol online?” a full-bodied yes – as long as your brand meets all state and local regulations.
So, how can you sell alcohol online while maintaining compliance with regulations and maximizing convenience for consumers?
You will need to make sure you are licensed to sell alcohol in every state where you plan to do business. Shipping licenses may also be required. Because every state’s laws are different (and complex) it’s a good idea to check state and local alcohol laws across the board before accepting that first online alcohol order to make sure you are in compliance.
Once you are compliant, it’s time to get your product online. Selling products online gives startup alcohol brands a chance to expand their market and ramp up sales. But because online alcohol sales are highly regulated, you may find building an alcohol e-commerce site from the ground up is too time-consuming or even too expensive to manage alone. This raises the question: Can you sell alcohol online without the burden of creating a website from scratch? Opting for a reliable e-commerce platform can provide a streamlined solution, allowing you to launch legally and potentially accelerate your online presence more efficiently than starting from square one.
Choosing a Website or E-Commerce Platform
Before you decide which e-commerce site to use, you’ll want to choose a name for your website. This would typically be the name of your brand or a main selling point connected to your business. You will use the website name to register your domain, or online presence so that you can get your products on the internet.
You can register a domain on your own through any one of several registration sites online, or you can register as part of onboarding through an e-commerce platform. It is important to make sure whatever path you choose ensures your site is fully compliant – meaning each sale meets legal standards, from age verification of buyers to inventory and tax reporting.
If you are considering selling direct-to-consumer as part of the question ‘can you sell alcohol online?” then we have several options in mind.
One of the most popular e-commerce platforms for direct-to-consumer beverage sales today is Shopify, although you will need a few extra apps to sell alcohol through the platform (We explain how Shopify third-party integration works for highly regulated products in this blog.) That is where Bloom comes in.
Bloom is a direct-to-consumer e-commerce Shopify app geared toward alcohol brands that both builds your website and allows you to sell and market products online. Bloom also integrates with compliance and fulfillment services that get your products where they need to go. The company describes itself as the only commerce firm with “an advanced e-commerce, retail, and membership solution for businesses using Shopify to sell alcohol.”
Selling with Bloom is not free but it is less costly than a full-service platform like LiquorPilot. The cost to set up compliance and fulfillment (shipping) configuration for your brand with Bloom starts at $1,000 with monthly costs starting at $99. But onboarding (or getting your product online) is billed as thorough and personalized. Brands that have a completed Shopify website already could potentially be online in a few weeks – compared to several months and potentially several thousands of dollars for an e-commerce store built from scratch.
Speakeasy Co. offers a unique solution for wine and spirits brands exploring the question, “Can you sell alcohol online?” Acting as a hybrid direct-to-consumer (DTC) and fulfillment platform, Speakeasy Co. empowers these brands to sell directly through their own websites while leveraging Speakeasy Co.’s services for seamless ordering, warehousing, shipping, and delivery via third-party carriers. By integrating a Speakeasy Co. shopping cart into their websites, brands can provide customers with a direct connection from start to finish.
With partnerships established with 250 brands, including renowned craft spirits favorite WhistlePig rye whiskey from Vermont, Speakeasy Co. has proven to be a trusted ally for those in the industry. For detailed pricing information and further inquiries, interested brands are encouraged to reach out to Speakeasy Co. directly through their website. In the ever-evolving landscape of online alcohol sales, Speakeasy Co. provides a comprehensive solution that addresses the question head-on, facilitating direct sales and fulfillment for wine and spirits brands in a streamlined manner.
Another answer to the question “can you sell alcohol online” is Barcart – a direct-to-consumer- like platform that allows brands to sell straight to their customers. Barcart is a full tax/age verification compliant and retailer-integrated platform geared toward wine, beer, and spirits. It is not restricted to a proprietary ecommerce website either, which allows brands to sell via a Barcart “checkout button” – similar to a PayPal button – on their own website.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that direct-to-consumer through Barcart really means service through a retailer, not directly from your brick-and-mortar shop to the consumer. That allows your brand to lean on retailers for alcohol compliance and customer delivery instead of covering all the bases yourself.
Barcart does not list pricing for e-commerce brands on its website. But the company does have a history of offering brands a free trial to help new brands get started online.
In the quest to answer the question, “Can you sell alcohol online?” Bevv emerges as a solution for breweries and cideries, offering a multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace that enables them to sell directly to consumers on their own website while eliminating concerns about delivery logistics. Craft Brewing Business hails Bevv as an “extension of a brewery’s taproom,” providing essential services such as delivery facilitation, labeling, reporting, and secure payment processing—all for a fee of 10 to 15 percent per order.
If you are currently licensed to sell out of your brewery or cidery or meadery, chances are you are a good fit for Bevv. For pricing, Bevv asks that brands contact the company through its website.
Brands don’t have to have an existing website to use LiquorPilot. The platform can work with or without one. If you have an existing site you want to use, LiquorPilot lets you link to its ecommerce store website from there. Or you can use your custom-built LiquorPilot store as your website. Either way, the platform will take the reins on age verification and tax compliance, managing orders, payment, and getting products to the customer.
Brands can choose true direct-to-consumer shipping or delivery through a retailer with LiquorPilot, too. The company’s website says it will help brands “of all sizes” set up third-party payment processing through the LiquorPilot platform so they can start shipping – and soon. The time from setup to launch for most brands, the company says, is less than 60 days.
But LiquorPilot isn’t free. Plans start at $400 a month for annual (or $500 monthly) full-service plans that include a custom-built ecommerce store, order fulfillment, compliance, integration for analytics, and marketing tools. But the minimal work for a brand to get online and stay compliant makes the platform an attractive option. With the platform’s robust tools and services, businesses can confidently explore the realm of online alcohol sales. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Can you sell alcohol online?” LiquorPilot can provide the answer and support you need to navigate this evolving landscape successfully.
Final Take: Unraveling the Question – Can You Sell Alcohol Online?
Selling alcohol online is easier than ever before. Any craft brand that has been asked “can you sell alcohol online?” has a growing number of ways to get their product online and to customers, both in-state and out-of-state. But state laws and shipping and delivery options vary by location and even by the type of alcohol sold. So it’s important for anyone considering selling online to do their homework first.
The answer to “can you sell alcohol online?” begins with checking with your state alcohol beverage control agency about licensing required in your state. Once you know what you are allowed to sell and ship, you can begin looking at ecommerce options.
If you want to use your own branded website you will need an ecommerce platform or app to get started. A website platform like Barcart, Speakeasy, or Bevv or proprietary ecommerce apps like Bloom for Shopify will allow you to stay compliant and meet your budget. Or you can choose a full-service option like LiquorPilot depending on how much (or how little) time you want to spend on the tech side of selling.
Are you looking for branding or marketing ideas for your product as you explore selling online? Let’s talk!