Retail Drinks Australia has been praised for leading the way with its Australian Code for online alcohol sales, after the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) introduced its Global Standards for Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery (Global Standards).

The Global Standards introduce safeguards to prevent alcohol deliveries to minors and intoxicated persons and IARD President, Henry Ashworth, praised the Retail Drinks Code as providing a blueprint for the development of equivalent frameworks in other countries.

“We are pleased to partner with Retail Drinks and other leading global and regional retailers, e-commerce and delivery platforms,” Ashworth said.

“The Australian Code for online alcohol sales has led the way in setting responsibility standards at a national level and we look forward to working with Retail Drinks to promote the development of local codes across the globe.”

The Retail Drinks code of conduct for online alcohol sales was first introduced in July 2019 and the association, as well as several of its members directly participated in IARD’s Global Alliance on the promotion of responsible online alcohol sales and deliveries, which helped devise the Global Standards.

Retail Drinks CEO Michael Waters said: “Retail Drinks is enormously proud to have played a significant leadership role in the promotion of responsible online liquor retailing and we are thrilled that our Code has now assumed an international dimension with the launch of the new Global Standards.

“The development of the Global Standards has been directly influenced by Retail Drinks’ Code and our expertise in this area with several other countries also currently in the process of exploring adopting their own versions of the Code.

“With the two-year anniversary now in sight, we look forward to continuing our promotion of the Code as a best-practice and fit for purpose framework in leading responsible online liquor retailing, both within Australia and internationally.”

The launch of the Global Standards also sees Coles join the IARD, with Coles Liquor Chief Executive Darren Blackhurst saying Coles takes the responsible sale of alcohol seriously and through the IARD, Coles would work with industry stakeholders to promote best practice measures throughout its online business.

“Most people consume alcohol in a sensible and responsible manner however we are committed to harm minimisation initiatives that reduce excessive consumption,” Blackhurst said.

“We saw a change in customer behaviour during COVID-19 and continue to see strong performance in eCommerce, so we have worked to adopt best practice safety protocols online and are pleased to join the IARD to share information on global initiatives and drive further improvement across the industry in partnership with suppliers and other stakeholders.”

Henry Ashworth, President and CEO of IARD said the Alliance was pleased to partner with Coles and other leading global regional retailers, eCommerce and delivery platforms.

“Together with the 12 leading alcohol producers they have worked tirelessly to enhance safeguards and set global standards for the online sale and delivery of alcohol, taking further steps to prevent underage sale to minors and prevent harmful drinking,” Mr Ashworth said.

“We look forward to working with Coles and other Australian partners to embed these responsibility standards in Australia and across the globe.”

Endeavour Group was also a global partner in the IARD’s initiative, and were one of the original partners invited back in January to work on the global guidelines, Managing Director Steve Donohue said: “COVID-19 has changed the ways customers shop for the foreseeable future, and as an increasing number of customers choose home delivery in an effort to reduce community transmission, it’s great to see the industry come together on a global level and agree on robust guidelines. As drinks retailers, we have a great responsibility to the communities we serve.

“Endeavour Group’s ambition is to be Australia’s most responsible retailer, so we were honoured to be invited by IARD to not only share our insights and learnings, but also help us learn from other businesses globally on the steps that we can continue to take. It’s pleasing to see that our hard work has helped IARD shape the global guidelines for online alcohol sales, and we look forward to continuing this partnership.”

The Global Standards have been developed by a global partnership of the 12 leading beer, wine, and spirits companies that form the IARD and 14 prominent global and regional online retailers, and e-commerce and delivery platforms. The partnership has identified five key safeguards to help ensure that robust standards are in place throughout the entire supply chain and customer journey to combat harmful drinking.

The standards outlined in the document include:

  • Improving safeguards and security measures that aim to prevent minors from being able to buy alcohol ​
  • Putting in place mechanisms to prevent beer, wine, and spirits being delivered to minors, to individuals showing visible signs of intoxication, or where prohibited by law
  • Providing tools, information, and education, or other support to drivers to empower them to deny delivery
  • Enhancing consumer information and control
  • Promoting global standards as a resource to support the development of national level codes and practices for the online sale and delivery of alcohol that build on local and national regulation.

Albert Baladi, President and CEO of Beam Suntory and Chair of IARD CEO Group, said: “This partnership reflects the shared determination of leading alcohol producers, online retailers and e-commerce platforms to combat the harmful use of alcohol in all its forms.

“These global safeguards for alcohol e-commerce cover the entire online purchase journey – starting from the moment a consumer begins the purchase process and travelling all the way through to the moment of delivery, helping ensure these orders don’t reach underage individuals or visibly intoxicated people.”

The new Global Standards are available through the IARD website.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.