MOSCOW, November 11, Nadezhda Sarapina. Both consumers and winemakers are waiting for permission to purchase alcohol remotely. Despite the support of the departments, a pilot project for online trading of domestic wine through Russian Post was never launched. The situation and future prospects were discussed at the winemaking forum in Moscow.
Shop on the sofa
In the first half of the year, the online trading market grew by 36.5% to 404 billion rubles, reports the analytical agency INFOLine. Among the leaders of E-grocery Russia TOP is Samokat, which more than doubled its turnover in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2022. Next are SberMarket, VkusVill, Yandex – plus 66.5%, 56.7%, 38.3%, respectively. People like to order on online platforms and receive goods at home or in the office at a convenient time. However, this is still not available for wine.
“At the same time, 80% of consumers are not aware that the delivery of alcohol is prohibited in the country. For them, it is the same product, and they do not understand why it cannot be included into the general basket,” notes Artem Sokolov, President of the Association of Internet Trade Companies (AKIT).
The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Digital Development, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Federal Antimonopoly Service, not to mention market participants, are in favor of lifting the ban. This is especially important for small wineries, notes General Director of Vin Arpachina Ekaterina Malik. “Online trading will provide us with distribution across the regions. Not everywhere there are wine shops, and direct sales will allow us to establish contact with customers,” she emphasizes.
Departments see this as an opportunity to solve global problems, primarily with counterfeit goods, and obtain a regulatory system, Sokolov points out. People still order alcohol delivery without thinking that it is illegal. As a result, they are given a fake. The Federal Service for Control of the Alcohol and Tobacco Market has confirmed that the technologies necessary to launch such trade exist.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs are afraid of social consequences. But these issues were discussed a year earlier, and the experiment with Russian Post involved limiting delivery time and assortment. So, we were talking only about domestic brands. But the corresponding bill was postponed indefinitely.
Myths and reality
There are more myths than real difficulties, note participants of the wine forum. For example, it is believed that people tend to purchase much more online than offline. However, it is not. The average check on the Internet is decreasing. “We are developing a model of conscious consumption; no one buys for future use anymore,” says Vladimir Goncharevich, deputy managing director of OZON. Spending depends on income, experts say, and delivery will not increase consumption.
Against retail – retail chains fear for revenue. But people, as a rule, go to the nearest store, and can order anywhere. When looking for an assortment, it is much easier to switch online than to travel somewhere, points out GR Director of SberMarket Pavel Glukhov. The overlap between real and virtual client bases is only 10-15%.
Marketplaces are also expressing concerns. Proper storage of alcoholic beverages requires a significant investment. Refrigerated trucks and licenses will be required for all order pick-up points. If the child is given the parents' order with alcohol, among other things, the site will suffer huge losses. But it is marketplaces that are interested in cooperation with small wineries.
Experts agree that the main obstacle is understatement between stakeholders. “No one talks about what really worries them. We understand the problems at the level of personal communication, but at the official level we see explanations that are not related to reality. Executive authorities repeat what potential market participants have already explained,” emphasizes the director of the department for the development and promotion of the Kuban-Vino company Eduard Dolgin.
It is difficult to understand the reasons for the omissions. But the decision can only be made together. In addition to winemakers, specialized retailers, and representatives of marketplaces, discussions with retail chains and authorities are necessary. Such meetings are held periodically, but systematic work is needed. In this regard, the story of the delivery of alcohol by Russian Post is indicative, when the approved project was never implemented.
“We, as a large manufacturer, are ready to support our colleagues in every possible way and work in any format. The main thing , respect the interests of market participants,” adds Dolgin. It relies on responsible moderation and constructive cooperation on mutually beneficial terms. One way or another, digitalization of the alcohol market is convenient for consumers, the industry, and the state, and therefore inevitable.