After the repeal of Prohibition, the alcohol industry started evolving rapidly and has gained significantly in recent years. Alcoholic beverage stores are mushrooming but the demand doesn’t seem to fall. If you want to catch a wave of success and start selling liquors, doing it online would be reasonable. In 2017, online sales of wine, liquor, and beer grew by 32.7% and they keep on growing. So, launching an online liquor store makes sense indeed.
While opening a liquor store sounds like a trifle, it’s more than picking up an eCommerce theme and adding your products there. Apart from financial and technical subtleties, there is a legal hassle, for instance.
But don’t worry. This detailed guide on how to open a liquor store will lead you through the initial bureaucracy issues to the final technical touches on your website.
Cheers to your success and let’s begin!
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Before diving into the topic, it makes sense to say a few words about the benefits you can get when you open a liquor store online. Take a look at these numbers:
Online retailing of alcoholic beverages is growing rapidly because of several reasons:
Food and beverages are becoming the main focus of online retailing. Those who deny the technical progress and don’t adjust to the new market’s rules might stay behind.
Now, let’s go into some details of opening a liquor store. Here are the answers to the most common questions.
Yes, you need a license to sell wine online. The system can be quite complicated.
Some licenses allow direct-to-consumer shipping, while others only allow shipping within a state–not out of state. Some licenses allow shipping only to particular states, while others only allow shipping a particular quantity of alcohol. Apart from that, there are different laws for wineries and retailers.
Alcohol laws regulate a business not only in your own state but also in the states where your customers live.
Before you go nuts, take a look at this awesome guide from the WineSpectator.
It gives information on whether D2C winery and retailer shipping in a particular state is allowed. Also, you can find out volume limits for each state. There are also some exclusive marks, so-called “buts.”
The resource drew up two amazing winery and out-of-state retailer direct shipping maps.
Keep in mind that the US Postal Service will not ship alcohol. FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS) will deal with it but you have to meet their requirements, including:
Your online liquor store can appear on the international market. The following steps can help make your presence on the market strong.
1. Make Sure You Meet Shipping Requirements
Not only every US state, but also every country has their own alcohol laws and shipping requirements. Before accepting orders from abroad, make sure you meet their laws and shipping policy.
2. Think about Secure Packaging
The shipment will undertake a long journey to the customers. Make sure that neither various transportation methods nor messy deliverymen will prevent your customers from savoring a glass of wine.
Here is a reliable type of packaging. Add some bubble wrap and the bottles will cross the Atlantic unharmed:
3. Check out Customs Documentation
As a seller, you are responsible for all customs documentation. You should provide a package with several certificates and sanitary statements to satisfy the customs requirements. You can check out the required documentation on the official TTB website.
Documentation is one of the biggest hassles you will meet when selling wine internationally. As the saying goes, if you want to have something you never had, start doing something you never did:)
Let’s move from bureaucracy issues to the financial.
The cost to open a liquor store on the Internet is another benefit of going online. Instead of renting or buying store premises, you buy hosting and secure a place on the internet. Instead of doing building repairs, you buy a template and add, edit, and remove page elements in a matter of clicks. You still have a certain amount of maintenance to do to be successful.
Still, an exact answer to this question is impossible because startup costs depend on many factors:
If you decide to go offline, substitute the last two items with mandatory liability insurance; theft, fire, and business interruption insurance; and stocking the premises with aesthetically appealing equipment (shelving, refrigeration, etc.). Depending on the location, the physical premises can cost between $175,000 and $920,000.
As you see, calculating liquor store startup costs without some raw data is almost impossible.
To calculate your liquor store start up cost, you need approximate figures for at least the seven aforementioned items.
Though we can’t tell you the exact cost to open a liquor store, we can guide you in the process of creating an online liquor store.
Usually, the e-commerce platform is the first thing people who want to open an online store will puzzle over.
If we consider usage distribution in the top 1 million sites, we will see that:
These eCommerce platforms seem to be absolute leaders in the market. But are they good indeed? What’s the best choice for starting a liquor store?
The best way to answer these questions is to compare the basic and additional features.
|a subscription service||an open-source e-commerce plugin for WordPress|
|offers hosting and subdomain + opportunity to pick up own domain name||strong integration with a WordPress website|
|offers product management options||offers product management options|
|has various payment gateways||has various payment gateways|
|standard customer management||customer management through third-party add-ons|
|hundreds of standard themes + third-party themes||thousands of free and paid third-party themes|
|mobile-friendly||mobile-friendly depending on the theme|
|an opportunity to edit HTML and CSS|
|unlimited bandwidth||bandwidth depends on the hosting plan|
|analytics and reports on sales and store performance||analytics and reports on sales and store performance|
|various sales channels (Point of Sale, Facebook module, a buy button, etc.)||thousands of plugins|
|hundreds of Shopify apps|
On the surface, the standard technical parameters are more or less the same. The details though might help you to choose one of the eCommerce platforms. For instance, Shopify already has a POS system allowing you to sell wine either online or offline. The fact that you don’t need any extra tools (e. g. cash registers) can save you money.
Another important thing to consider is design. The aesthetically appealing website makes the visitors stay longer and, as a result, buy more. Approximately 38% of Internet users admitted that they won’t recommend a website with a poor layout.
Shopify’s themes are modern, trendy, tasteful, and upscale. They suit a wide number of business niches. Still, there are only ten free themes so far. Seems like Shopify is fighting with free themes and it reduces their numbers.
A paid option will cost $75-$180. You can find affordable Shopify themes on the TemplateMonster marketplace.
As WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin, there is no such thing as WooCommerce design. You just pick up an existing WordPress website with an existing design and add e-commerce functionality with a plugin.
There are both pros and cons.
The good thing is that you don’t go through much of a hassle if you already have a WordPress website.
Apart from that, there are thousands of multipurpose and niche WordPress themes for various tastes and pockets, including free solutions. The choice is wide indeed and you can ensure it by checking out these WooCommerce compatible themes.
On the other hand, some parts of the store might not be displayed in the way you expect them to. In such cases, you either change a theme or dive into CSS if you are capable. It doesn’t happen as a rule but you should be aware of it.
It’s hard to say which e-commerce platform is better for opening an online liquor store. Each of them finds its users.
To sum up, it’s important to say that WooCommerce is extremely flexible in customization but it requires more work. Shopify stands out with its out-of-the-box quality and has an awesome web design toolkit.
As understood, you can open a liquor store on WordPress with WooCommerce. The plugin is free itself. Still, there are some additional costs such as:
You can find out more about Bluehost and its benefits in this review.
The process of setting up WooCommerce is simple. In the beginning, you can use a guideline or do it yourself by clicking “I don’t need help” button:
A couple of things to point out while opening a liquor store and setting it up are payments, currency, and shipping.
You can set them up with the help of the Setup Wizard that you will find in the notification on the WordPress dashboard.
The Wizard creates pages for Shop, Cart, Account, and Checkout automatically when you click the “Continue” button.
Then, you choose the location of the online liquor store and the currency. Afterward, you will set up shipping and tax information. You sell wine, so you will ship physical goods. So, check the appropriate box:
Next, WooCommerce can help you calculate your taxes. If you aren’t sure about them now, you can skip this step and return to it later.
Then, you have to choose the payment method. WooCommerce supports PayPal, PayPal Standard, and Stripe payment gateways. You can add other methods that are compatible with WooCommerce.
PayPal Standard payment is one of the most convenient ones. You add your PayPal email, click “Continue,” and proceed.
For customers, Stripe is even more user-friendly. They don’t have to leave the website to enter their payment data. With Stripe, they can add their credit card information right on the checkout page.
Congrats! You have set up an online liquor store.
Now, you can start adding the products.
Go to Products > Add new. Come up with a title and a description for the first product. Then, add a Product Category. Click “Add New Product Category” in the right column:
The more structured your online liquor store is, the easier it will be for the customers to shop. Intuitive navigation improves the user experience and makes them more likely to come back. In this article, you can find out more ways to increase conversions of WooCommerce product pages.
Next, you will proceed to the Product Databox, where you can add information about prices, shipping, and inventory. Below, there is a window with a product description. The customers will see it when they view several products on the page. Then, you can add the main product picture and a gallery.
Make sure you give detailed information. Descriptions are not just a bunch of words. The right descriptions will boost conversions.
As you see, setting up an online liquor store is not that complicated, especially if you do it with WordPress.
However, there is still an easier way to open a liquor store.
WooCommerce offers an intuitive setup that requires no coding skills. Still, the ultimate service to get your web store online hassle-free will save even more time. Plus, the guys who set it up master their skills every day and deal with issues that might appear during setup.
The TemplateMonster team can take the aforementioned set up steps for you. They will configure the store, including pricing, shipping parameters, and taxes. The team will also configure basic Google Analytics settings.
As a result, you get a ready-made optimized store that you can fill with products.
The service has four packages that include a different number of options. The prices start at $99 and go up to $705 for an All-in-One package.
It takes different times to set up a store depending on the package:
Depending on the package, you can get various benefits. First, you save time and avoid the technical hassle. You pay once and get the work done within a couple of days. Those who have never built an online liquor store will need much more time for that.
Second, although using WooCommerce is not about coding, some technical issues might still appear. The experienced developers who set up your store will solve them fast and prevent their emergence later.
Third, the team has resourceful specialists with vast knowledge. They have faced hundreds of cases, learned from mistakes, and now can use their experience and skills to give a promising start to your online liquor store.
At the end of the day, the price for your stress-free Friday evening is not big but the result is worth it.
Everyone who wants to save time and entrust the setup process to experienced specialists can take advantage of this.
The site’s performance optimization is offered to WooCommerce and PrestaShop only. On-page SEO optimization is limited to English, Russian, and Ukrainian languages. For any other opportunities, contact a pre-sales manager in a Live Chat.
The size of the store is limited to 1000 products.
The niche of the store doesn’t matter.
When it comes to choosing a liquor website template, it’s important to understand:
There is a checklist for the must-have features for an online store theme:
1. Responsiveness and Compatibility with the Major Browsers
It goes without saying that an online store must be responsive and compatible with all major browsers. Your customers will shop from different devices and browsers. A responsive store contributes to a wonderful user experience.
Moreover, Google adores responsive and mobile-friendly websites and ranks them higher.
So, pay attention to such labels as “Responsive,” “Mobile-Friendly,” and “Cross-browser Compatibility.”
2. SEO-Friendliness and Light Weight
The small weight of a template can be achieved through particular practices in coding. A lightweight template is more user-friendly because a website takes less time to upload.
A template can also already be optimized toward search engines and for speed. That means that the online store has more chances to be ranked higher. Also, you will go through less hassle when setting up the store.
So, pay attention to the label “SEO-friendly.” Check out the requirements for software and hosting. There, the required amount of disk space is stated. You will also find out the weight of the template.
3. Social Integration
The right e-commerce theme should provide social integration – an opportunity to link a social account to a website. Add a well-working social button and your customers will get an opportunity to talk about your store in their social media.
Pay attention to such labels as “Social Options.”
4. Multiple Pre-Made Pages for different Purposes
The right e-commerce template includes a couple of ready-made pages. Pay attention to whether must-have pages such as Homepage, Shop, Single Product, Gallery, Contact Us, About Us, Testimonials pages are included.
There could be different layouts and variations of the pages.
The template can contain additional pre-made pages such as Blog, 404 Page, Under Construction, etc.
5. Different UI Elements
UI elements are a visual language of the online store. They also contribute to intuitive navigation and positive user experience.
Of course, you can add the elements with the help of plugins. Since the plugins do have weight, it’s better to choose a template with already existing important elements.
Pay particular attention to such components as drop-down menus, accordions, carousels, buttons, tabs, cards, countdown elements, calendars, checkboxes, icons, progress bars, sidebars, and tooltips.
A good e-commerce template includes web forms (contact, search, newsletter, etc.).
It would be great if a provider offered support. Many themes and templates come with 24/7 support, which is great. If any issues arise, there is a great chance that it will be solved quickly.
That was a universal checklist of the must-have features. You can check out this other checklist for more insights.
What is individual is the unique design and a layout that sells. Make sure it looks aesthetically appealing and meets the conception of your business. For instance, a fancy pink theme doesn’t suit an online liquor store.
Speaking of the setup, WordPress has quite an intuitive one. If you still face difficulties, you can apply for an online store setup service.
As you now know how to choose an online liquor store theme, let’s check out some available options.
Here is another trendy and stylish online liquor store theme. It has an awesome dynamic header that attracts attention and causes hypersalivation.
It stands out with a user-friendly layout that you can customize to your taste. On the main page, you can list the products with the prices and short descriptions. You can sort the products by price, popularity, age, and type of wine. There is also Parallax scrolling that adds dynamics.
Apart from that, there is a user’s account, address, and cart that helps customers track their orders.
If you don’t know how to start a liquor store, start by buying this inspiring theme!
For those who want to open liquor store this responsive Bootstrap theme offers must-have features:
That was the last item in the collection of the inspiring themes for an online liquor store.
Here is another trendy and user-friendly online liquor store theme powered by Bootstrap. It includes:
Opening a liquor store will be faster and easier with this WooCommerce theme. It has a high-quality dynamic header with saturated pictures that alternate with each other. Below, the customers can check out the assortment of products with prices and short descriptions. You can sort the alcoholic beverages by the type of grape, age, country, price, and more.
There is a variety of pre-made pages: homepage, default page, testimonials, archives, FAQs, team, products, clients, default, full-width page, and other.
Other features of the online liquor store:
When you start a liquor store, a theme with pre-made pages can save time! The affordable price will also reduce your liquor store startup costs.
You get editable ready-made pages that you can fill with:
The online liquor store includes must-have features such as:
With the help of the Shopify visual builder, you can create as many layouts as you wish. Due to the drag-and-drop nature, you don’t need technical skills to open a liquor store.
This online liquor store theme can help to create a real story and appeal to a customer’s heart. A wonderful header on the homepage creates a pleasant atmosphere for an unhurried shopping experience.
A homepage has customizable sections, where you can add a slider, a text, a banner with a special offer, a product with a price and description. You can also add a background video and tell more about the conditions in which the grape was grown or the process of making wine.
The online liquor store is built with Elementor Page Builder and includes Jet plugins. With their help, you can create tabs, blocks, product galleries, menu, blog, and more.
Wow! There are high chances that the tempting and appetizing header on this theme will make your customers empty their pockets in your online liquor store!
Also, the theme has convenient product sorting by category tabs according to various criteria. The content of the website will look more organized if you unite the products into logical categories. For instance, you can organize the wine by the type of grape, the country, the age, etc.
With the help of the WooCommerce package, you can add banners, product carousels, on-page custom menus, and product categories. Custom widgets can enrich the functionality of your online liquor store.
To facilitate the process of choosing wine, you can add Wishlist and Compare plugins.
Apart from that, the theme is fully responsive and SEO-friendly.
Those, who want to open a liquor store but also don’t know yet how it should look, can consider this bundle. It contains two premium Shopify themes for an online liquor store. The third variant is coming soon.
At your disposal, there are:
Besides, there are such important features as:
If you have been wondering how to open a liquor store online, here is an answer – use this classy and elegant theme.
At your disposal, there are five homepage layouts with astonishing design.
Also, there are five blog layouts and a pre-made gallery page. Of course, there is a ready-made page for a shop and testimonials.
You can make intuitive navigation and contribute to positive user experience with the help of:
Apart from awesome navigation options, this online liquor store has a toolkit for web design. There are five header and three footer styles that you can adjust to the conception of your store. There are also Google Web Fonts and Map.
If elegance is not your story, this online liquor store might be the right choice. It’s quite simple and colorful. It would suit best for a store with mainstream wines rather than a fine wine store.
It has two layouts that you can customize with the help of:
That was the last item in the collection of the inspiring themes for an online liquor store.
How do you choose a suitable one? Make sure that it highlights the concept of your store. A classy and elegant theme would fit a store with fine wines. A minimalistic theme can be suitable for wines from the New World. Bright and colorful themes would look awesome on a website with wines from Africa or South America.
All of the themes are customizable. So, it’s easy to make changes until the store meets your expectations.
We hope that opening a liquor store will become an exciting journey, where you take control over the process just like the driver. Remember not to break the speed limit and not to drive drunk 🙂
The most important thing when you open a liquor store is to get the license for shipping alcoholic beverages. Then you should create a contract with FedEx or UPS and find out where exactly you can ship your products. After that, you need to contact UPS Freight or FedEx Freight to ship beverages to the customers.
These states forbid out-of-state alcohol retail sales: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Maryland, Delaware, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Maine, Montana, Kentucky, Arizona, Hawaii, West Virginia, Mississippi.
Yes, most of the themes have the option of transferring the whole database with dropshipping products to the website. Check out this option when choosing an e-commerce theme.
Most of the themes are provided with 24/7 support in different forms (chat, tickets, email, etc.). If any issues appear, you should contact the support team.
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