Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a sizable shift to online retailing for many industries, especially those that were forced to shut.

While the off-premise liquor industry has been able to keep operating physical stores under pandemic restrictions, this online shift has still impacted liquor retail. New data uncovered by Fonto has identified what areas have been impacted, illustrating how shoppers are engaging with the industry online.

To collect insights, Fonto gathered transaction data from actual consumers and linked that to survey responses, to create a well rounded and comprehensive view of the alcohol industry.

One of the biggest findings from Fonto about the online liquor sector, is that shoppers spend 74 per cent more online than they do in-store. However, the amount of liquor sales that are made online remains relatively small, accounting for 26 per cent of purchases.

Jon O’Loughlin, Head of Client Development at Fonto, said: “COVID-19 has permanently changed the way we shop. Alcohol is no different, however, the rate of online purchase adoption has been lower in the alcohol sector (than other sectors such as electrical products, stationery and take-away food), as bricks and mortar liquor stores have remained open during lockdowns.

“When consumers place an order online, they want to make it worth their while. So, where they buy a case of wine in bricks and mortar stores, the same person may buy two cases of wine and a case of beer when ordering online.”

Fonto’s research has also shown how shoppers engage with liquor retailers online. Although average spend differs between retailers, there are some elements that make customers want to spend more at certain types of stores. What’s interesting is that a large amount of these elements are related to the physical store itself, as many online shoppers aren’t choosing to shop online solely to avoid the store.

“Online spend at stand alone format stores is 67 per cent higher than smaller, mall-based or attached to supermarket format stores. This is primarily due to click-and-collect being twice as popular as delivery. Hence, the increased product offering combined with the convenience of being able to wheel a trolley directly to the car at Dan Murphy’s or First Choice translates to more dollars spent,” O’Loughlin said.

“Online gives customers more options and allows them to browse at their convenience and pace. Essentially, it is more suited to the way people want to buy alcohol, which provides them with a feel good factor.”

Further key numbers about online liquor retail uncovered by Fonto in this research include:

  • 63 per cent of shoppers are making greater use of online ordering options for alcohol
  • 62 per cent like to browse online as they can take more time to consider their options
  • 46 per cent browse multiple websites before deciding where to place an order for alcohol

These points show the importance of building a competitive online component into a store’s offering. As O’Loughlin said: “Online ordering and seamless click-and-collect is a good route to building customer retention. If the online ordering process is made really easy and click-and-collect works as intended, customers will keep coming back.”

Keep an eye out for the October issue of National Liquor News next month for more insights from Fonto.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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