Online liquor store HelloDrinks has seen its sales spike by 300-600% during COVID-19 restrictions, as consumers migrate to technology to make their purchases.
Analysts are predicting greater usage of online channels moving forward and HelloDrinks owner JP Tucker says its vital that suppliers embrace multiple sales channels, including online.
Tucker (above with wife and co-founder Steph), has fast-tracked the launch of the HelloDrinks Liquor Marketplace to provide suppliers with a new revenue stream during COVID-19.
The initiative allows suppliers to list their products on the HelloDrinks website, shipping them directly to consumers, allowing them to reduce their transport and wholesale costs, as well as reducing out-of-stock challenges.
The website recently welcomed Carlton & United Breweries, with its range of products go live very shortly.
How has COVID-19 impacted HelloDrinks?
HelloDrinks is purely an online store, so when COVID-19 came, we were in a strong position to cater for the increased traffic and sales to our site, we have seen sales increase up to 600% at times, but has levelled at 300% increase over the past three months.
In terms of operations, we have seen a huge influx of suppliers knocking at our door to get their products into the online space, which we are still in talks with regarding ranging their products.
We have taken on new staff, and plans are in place to expand the team further in the near future.
Why did you launch Liquor Marketplace?
During COVID-19 lockdowns, many suppliers are taking a hit on their business due to the restrictions put on the on-premise trade and it will be a few months yet before the industry starts climbing its way out of it.
I see our platform providing another avenue to reach customers. Even if suppliers are not online, that won’t matter as we do all the leg work to range, market and send the orders to them as we receive them, our team are also on hand to assist with recommending couriers to assist in collecting their orders.
Where did the idea come from to launch the Liquor Marketplace?
The Marketplace has been in development since 2019, as we saw a need to rapidly increase our product range to keep up with customer demand. However, due to some teething issues, we had planned to put it on hold until after Easter. COVID changed those plans. Testing is now complete – we had to move fast to get the Marketplace functioning so that we can have a positive effect on suppliers’ recovery from COVID-19.
The beauty of Liquor Marketplace is that suppliers no longer have to wait for range windows to list their products and can have their products live on the site within a couple of days, perfect for limited release, seasonal or for clearing discontinued products.
Do you intend to continue working with these suppliers beyond the pandemic?
Yes, The Marketplace has been in our long-term plan for a while now, and we see it as a disruptive model for the drinks industry in the online space. We are only at stage one of the launch, we have more exciting roll outs to come as it expands.
Do you think the alcohol industry is lagging in terms of adopting e-commerce?
I believe there is no short-term solution to this, and for bottle shops and suppliers who may think setting up a website is the answer, it is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Technology is changing all the time at a fast rate. They need to be across it and, for some, the heavy investment may not be viable. However, COVID has taught us many lessons, one is that they need to look at multiple sales channels including online.
Some suppliers have yet to embrace the online space, however we now know more and more shoppers will be shopping online from now on, and they need to begin looking at online distribution points, as it goes a long way to growing their brand presence.
Customers will see brands on our site, that may influence their purchase decision when they are in their local bar or bottleshop at the weekend, so it is more than just an online store, it becomes part of the suppliers’ brand growth.
Tucker is offering suppliers 5% off their first three months on the platform if they reach out with the promo code: DrinksTrade.