Online Liquor Market in India – A Case Study

Quick points about the market

India is the 3rd largest liquor market in the world.

One of the fastest growing markets in the world, on the back of demographics & economy.

Strong MNC presence with Diageo, Beam Global, Pernod Ricard, Heineken, S.A.B. Miller, Carlsberg and more.

market share of alcohol products

Highlights from the article – “Online Liquor Retailing is a Business With a Twist” by Franchiseindia on Dec, 2013

A burgeoning working class having busy schedules but a high disposable income are the target customers of this segment. Another key driver is the growing number of women drinkers, who are uncomfortable to shop liquor from the often dim-lit and overcrowded stores. Moreover, a new breed of globetrotters with a taste for imported wines and spirits, which are not easily available at local stores, is fueling the trend.

Madhuloka Liquor Boutique is a leading chain of modish liquor stores in Bangalore. Keeping in view the activity in the ecommerce space, it forayed into the online space with Madhuloka.com, last year (2012, that is).

Shivalingegowda Lokesh, Managing Director, Madhuloka Liquor Boutique, says, “The online retail contributes nearly 10 per cent to our total sales. We expanded online to cater to the customers who do not have time to visit stores due to their busy schedules. In addition to this, e-commerce is emerging as the new way of trade.”

Madhuloka Liquor Boutique has 17 outlets in Bangalore. It delivers orders placed online within a range of three to four kilometers of these outlets.

Highlights from the article – “Click for a hic: Order your liquor online” by Business-standard on September 8, 2014

On a Sunday afternoon, three friends ran out of beer but the thirst could not be pacified as they’d decided not to drive after drinking. That’s how Dhruv Khandelwal, an equity research analyst, got the idea for online retailing of alcohol in Delhi. He started letsbuydrink.com last year.

Khandelwal’s counterpart in Bangalore had a different reason to venture into online retailing of alcoholic beverages. The owner of Madhuloka Liquor Boutique, with 17 stores across Bangalore, noticed a trend that young consumers, mostly the technology professionals, tend to keep a stock at home because of their unusual working hours. Madhuloka then started its online platform that offers the “convenience of shopping in your own time in your own space when you need to stock up or for an event or replenish your fridge with your favourites”.

A handful of online retailers have started offering alcoholic beverages through the e-commerce route since then. Letsbuydrink.com caters to Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Mumbai and offers imported alcoholic beverages for sale. There is Madhuloka in Bangalore, wineBazaar.in and in Mumbai and boozzr.com in Delhi, among others.

The fall of most online stores

Quora answer by the cofounder of MakeMyDrink, on why it was shut down.

Nishant Jayaprakash, MakeMyDrink

What lies ahead

In a world where everything is getting online, alcohol will come there too, it is only a matter of time, a time when the Indian society openly welcomes the new trend and the government amends its outdated and obsolete laws regarding this matter. Until then, the following major issues will pertain-

  1. Too risky business
    As with the case of Make my drink, most startups in this business will have to shut down because there won’t be money coming in from any investor. Nobody wants to invest money in a business that might get shut down in a day.
  2. Anyone can jump in
    There can’t be much disruption here, as most of you might already have figured out. It is the same as food-tech, where with just a website/app, payment gateway and service provider one can get started.

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As a college activity, I had done an extensive research on the Indian online liquor market, some of which I haven’t published here. Please get in touch if you feel more information on this could be helpful, I’ll definitely write you back.