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Starting an Online Alcohol Business

Online alcohol sales have been booming ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw pubs and bars closing their doors and people turning to home delivery services. It’s actually estimated that online alcohol sales grew by two thirds in 2020 and that’s all thanks to eCommerce marketplaces and stores. 

Wine, beer, spirits, even pre-mixed cocktails! The huge variety of choice offered to online shoppers coupled with the convenience of direct-to-consumer (D2C) trade are both to thank for the ever-increasing size of the online alcohol market. 

cocktailsSo, it seems that selling alcohol online may well be worth a shot (or two!). But, as with the sale of any restricted product, there are several things to consider before you can get started.

Do I need a licence to sell alcohol online?

First things first, if you want to sell alcohol online, you’ll need two licences: a personal licence (which allows you as an individual to manage the sale of alcohol) and a premises licence (which legally names your business as a place where alcohol can be dispatched).

Acquiring a personal licence is a two step process: complete a training course to obtain a licensing qualification and then apply for a personal licence through your local authority. 

Once you have a personal licence, you’ll be able to apply for a premises licence. Premises licences can only be granted to commercial properties like warehouses and shops, so you won’t be able to run an eCommerce alcohol business from home (or any other domestic dwelling).

Once you’ve obtained both licences, you’ll become the Premises Supervisor and it will be your responsibility to ensure that any alcohol sold by your business is sold legally. 

How much do alcohol licences cost?

Personal licence applications cost £37, plus £25 for a criminal background check. Premises licence applications cost between £100 and £1905, depending on the size of the business. There are also annual licensing fees which will be set by your local authority. 

You could be fined up to £1000 if you fail to produce a licence when requested to do so. You could also be jailed for up to six months if you sell alcohol online without the right licences, so make sure you have everything sorted before setting up your eCommerce store. 

What’s the best platform for selling alcohol online?

Once you’ve developed your brand, stocked up on alcohol from a wholesale supplier (or private brewery, vineyard or distillery), and created a product packaging experience that resonates with customers, you’ll be well on your way to selling alcohol online.

Your next step will be to choose a platform to build your store. There are loads of options out there, including Shopify, Wix and even WordPress combined with an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce

old fashioned cocktailCall us old fashioned, but we always recommend that you hire a web design agency for the build and maintenance of your site to ensure it can meet all of your expectations. Although it’s possible to build yourself a website without knowing how to code, the site’s functionality will be generic and limited.

We have front-end and back-end developers in-house, as well as graphic designers, a UX specialist and a content writer, all primed to bring your site to life. Get in touch with Create8 today to find out more!

Can I sell alcohol on Facebook? 

Both Facebook and Instagram have banned the sale of alcohol on their social media platforms after concerns about underage drinking and counterfeit goods. 

Accessories like cocktail shakers and wine glasses can still be sold, but selling any kind of alcoholic beverage, including empty bottles and ‘home-brew’ kits, is prohibited. Posts promoting this kind of content will be removed by moderators. 

Shopify Websites for Alcohol Brands

Of all the eCommerce website builders out there, Shopify is probably the most flexible. It has a range of plans available, with options for businesses of all sizes. It also has an excess of 7000 apps in its App Store which allow users to adjust their site’s functionality. It’s no wonder Shopify is popular!

ShopifyWe’re Shopify Partners here at Create8, so if you need support with navigating the platform from an award-winning web design agency, drop us a message or give us a call today.

Luckily, selling alcohol on Shopify is pretty straightforward. You just need to make sure your store complies with UK laws and put measures in place to check that your customers are of legal drinking age. Age verification can be added to your checkout process to make sure of this.

So to get you inspired, let’s take a look at some of the alcohol brands on Shopify that are getting it right.

The Public Spirit 

The Public Spirit is an alcohol brand with a difference – for every bottle sold through their Shopify store, they provide a meal to four hungry people in the UK! They stock a variety of liquor and a range of pre-mixed cocktail cans, and have a solid brand identity that’s in keeping with their brand values. 

Alcohol ShopifyWe built The Public Spirit’s website on the ‘Be Yours’ Shopify theme. The theme’s ‘drag and drop’ section builder allowed us to create a unique layout that really pops. We also added moving text elements in the form of custom-built scrolling marquees and rotating icons. Their ‘Serves’ page adds even more value to the site, providing easy-to-follow recipes and creative photography. 

To ensure the store complies with UK laws, our developers added age verification checks to the checkout process to prohibit underage customers from making a purchase. 


Vinebox is a D2C alcohol brand that’s taken Shopify by storm. As a subscription service for rare wine lovers, Vinebox delivers nine 100 ml wine ‘tasters’ every quarter – packaged in glass tubes! Subscribers acquire points with every delivery which can be spent on full-sized bottles of the wines they liked the most. 

With an entirely bespoke Shopify website powered by a tech stack of 16 Shopify Apps (including Klaviyo, Shopify Product Reviews and Google Analytics), Vinebox has successfully positioned itself to attract and retain subscribers. According to Similarweb, Vinebox achieved 89.1k site visits in November alone!

Stockport Gin

Stockport Gin came to Create8 in need of a stunning website to celebrate their range of small batch gins. Since the site launched, the company’s made even more of a name for itself – their Twist of Lime Edition gin was even named Best in Britain by The Gin Guide Awards 2022!

Shopify AlcoholMaking use of the ‘Blockshop’ Shopify theme, we implemented a full width product page, viewable within the first fold, to showcase their colourful product imagery and stylish packaging design. We also added an age verifier gateway, so that only people of legal age could enter the site and view the available products, as well as age verification checks to the checkout process. 


Seedlip is responsible for developing the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit and they’ve seen unrivalled success ever since. With an average of 121.2k site visitors per month and an annual revenue around £15m (similarweb.com), it’s not surprising that Seedlip’s Shopify store is so slick. 

Their bespoke website features an off-cart checkout process and hover-triggered image zooming to showcase their products. The innovative UX design also complements their stunning brand identity, with a segmented home page and easy-to-navigate user journey. 

Although more expensive, bespoke Shopify builds allow for the creation of something truly unique. Request a proposal today if you’re interested in hearing about what we can build for you! 

Libations Rum

Yorkshire-based Libations Rum is a company that’s passionate about changing the rum-rhetoric. Specialising in high-quality British craft rum, they’ve won a number of awards since launching in 2019. 

Shopify AlcoholThey asked us to bring their website to life so we added custom elements to the ‘Cascade’ Shopify theme, including a home page product carousel and a bespoke fullscreen menu. We also included age verification checks to the checkout process to ensure the site complied with UK laws. 

The embedded videos on the home page combined with the hover-triggered flip animations on their ‘Signature Serves’ page bring excitement to match their bold beverage offering. That’s one way to get site visitors into the buying spirit!

Speak to a Web Developer

January is the perfect time to wake up and smell the rosé. If you need help with setting up an alcohol business on Shopify, or any other eCommerce platform for that matter, you’d be smart to choose Create8. 

Our award-winning web design process means we’re well equipped to create something that packs a punch for you and your customers. We’re UX-focused content connoisseurs with a host of developers on hand to turn your ideas into clicks. 

So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch.