Photo: Ben Premeaux via Blue Blaze Brewing
Abruptly changing your business model is no easy feat, but that’s the reality many in the craft beverage industry faced at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. When governments were closing down bars and restaurants to dine-in customers, business owners were forced to innovate with to-go and delivery sales.
For many consumers, the appeal of alcohol delivery is still high — they can place an order from their favorite brewery, cidery, or winery and wait for it to arrive on their doorstep. Consumers got used to this convenient option for purchasing alcohol during the pandemic, and it’s important for producers and retailers to recognize this shift in the market moving forward.
If you’ve never offered direct-to-consumer product delivery before, you may not know where to start. Use the steps below to learn how to start an alcohol delivery business ASAP.
Table of contents
- Local Alcohol Delivery Business in 5 Steps
- Options for Online Ordering & Alcohol Delivery Business Sites
Local Alcohol Delivery Business in 5 Steps
1. Make sure it’s legal.
You’re likely very familiar with your local and state laws surrounding alcohol delivery business — but if you’re unsure of the particulars, now is the time to check. Several U.S. states that typically don’t allow local beer and wine deliver issued emergency declarations in 2020 to temporarily lift these bans, but they may have expired in some areas. Additionally, the type of license your company carries can affect your ability to deliver. Look to your state brewers guild, recent news from your legislature, and state alcohol regulatory agency for the most up-to-date information. And keep in mind: shipping alcohol over state lines is treated differently under the law in most states, and many of those restrictions remain in place.
2. Set up an online ordering system.
While curbside to-go sales are easier to manage, deliveries are a whole different ballgame. You’ll want to keep track of these orders to plan deliveries and having someone take orders over the phone and prioritize them manually is not an efficient system. Systems like Square, Commerce7, and Arryved can quickly get online ordering sites set up with your available products and pickup/delivery options so you have a streamlined way to take and process orders.
3. Decide if you’ll use your own staff or a third-party service for deliveries.
Many craft manufacturing businesses have opted to use their own staff for direct-to-consumer deliveries. However, if you already have a partnership with a third-party app like Grubhub, Postmates, or Uber Eats, you may prefer to continue using those services for deliveries and keep your staff on hand for curbside orders and production-related activities. No matter your decision, keep in mind that offering deliveries presents the opportunity for customer dissatisfaction with the product or service, so have a plan for handling complaints.
4. Ensure staff know your new process.
Have a huddle with the staff who will be involved with any pickup or alcohol delivery business sales and assign responsibilities. Make sure everyone understands and agrees on the process — from who checks for new orders and grabs products to fulfill them to who makes deliveries — so everyone is on the same page.
5. Tell your customers!
Social media is the fastest way to get the word out these days, especially if you know a lot of your fans follow you already. Keep your Instagram stories updated with any changes and make a post in your feed that lets customers know your new process. Include the link for online ordering in your Instagram bio and post it on Twitter and Facebook, but don’t forget your website. Take a stab at sharing the news with local media outlets, too — a little publicity can go a long way.
Remember to evaluate and reassess to see what’s working and what needs adjusting — you can always take a day off to make some tweaks to your process and give your hardworking staff a brief break before getting back to it the next day.
Options for Online Ordering & Alcohol Delivery Business Sites
If you’re looking for online ordering functionality, here is information on a few providers:
- Square: Square allows users to create their own sites using pre-built templates in as little as 30 – 45 minutes. Free version allows selling of unlimited products, Instagram and Pinterest integration, and automatic inventory, order, and item sync for Square POS users.
- Craftpeak: Craftpeak is passionate about helping breweries sell their beer online. Their online stores and reporting tools can be launched quickly, and are designed to help breweries manage a variety of pickup, local delivery, and shipping fulfillment options.
- Arryved: Sell your craft food, beverage, and merchandise online for hands-free on-premise ordering, to-go or delivery. There’s no charge to set up or host your online store as an Arryved customer.
- Commerce7: Create an Amazon-like ecommerce experience with Commerce7’s cookie-based login, upfront pricing, and persistent shopping cart.
Looking for information about how to start a curbside pickup or “drive-through” program? Head this way.