Booze traders fear online sale

Physical store owners are against online liquor sale; they fear they will lose out to biggies

The government has dropped the proposal for now.

The Karnataka government has just shelved a proposal to allow online sale of liquor, mooted during the tenure of the previous government.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said he had intervened to stop the excise department from taking the proposal forward.

Physical store owners are opposing the idea too. Metrolife spoke them to understand the reason for their resistance.

“Customers will be able to source it from anyone they like; it doesn’t have to be a shop in their area. For example: if Amazon or Flipkart starts such a service, they might tie-up with just one wine store in a particular area. Then the others in the neighbourhood will get affected,” says the owner of a liquor store who does not wish to be named.

Not everybody can afford to go online. The smaller stores will have logistical problems so only the big stores will get business, he argues.

The excise department says online sales would boost revenue and help curb drunk driving.

G Honnagiri Gowda, president of the Karnataka Wine Merchants Association, says it will result in a monopoly and destroy smaller traders.

“We will continue to oppose such a proposal, now and in future too. We will not let this happen,” he asserts.


Online retailers feel the heat

HipBar, which started India’s first legitimate alcohol home delivery service in Bengaluru, has suspended operations in Karnataka in the light of recent developments.

In a blog, they accused a Kannada news channel of running a false story casting aspersions on the company and the excise department, which it says had granted permission for home delivery.

Calling the story the trigger that ‘set off a chain of unsavoury events’, the post says operations will remain suspended till the company gets clarity on the matter.
Not all liquor retailers are afraid online business will destroy them.

“We are a fairly big store so we don’t have a problem with going online. Dunzo had approached us, saying demand was high, and sought a tie-up. We had agreed but the plan has run into administrative problems,” says a retailer.


Selling of liquor online calls for many processes

Software costs Rs 12-14 lakh, he says. A delivery system has to be worked out and staff hired for that. Online can’t be clubbed with offline retail, and that calls for additional staffing.

Getting the licences and navigating through the laws is also confusing, he says.

“There are restrictions on the number of bottles of alcohol you can store at home, restrictions on delivery, and on payments to delivery boys. These have to be figured out,” he told Metrolife.


Underage concern

Some retailers had protested against the proposal to allow e-sale of liquor saying it would encourage underage drinking by providing easy access.

The process includes checking of IDs, but store owners said the rule would not be followed strictly.

However, many physical stores undertake home delivery of liquor. How many check the IDs of their customers before wishing them a happy tipple?

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Booze traders fear online sale


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