Australia: Alcohol delivered to your door via app: logical step or too much licence with liquor?

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Australia: Alcohol delivered to your door via app: logical step or too much licence with liquor?

 

Source: The Age

Miki Perkins

June 5, 2016

 

“Artisan” gelato. Top-notch restaurant food. Eco-friendly, charity-supporting loo roll. And now, craft beer.

 

The liquor industry has woken up to the fact Melburnians have a growing appetite for ordering goods online and direct to their lounge room.

 

A small but growing number of rapid-delivery online liquor services – including one that boasts the first mobile app in Australia – raise interesting questions about how to measure the social impact of virtual businesses.  

 

Booze has been available to order online from major outlets for ages, but what sets these new operators apart is speed – for a fee, you can have a drink in your hand in under an hour.

 

Brothers Ryan and Shane Barrington opened their business – tipple.com.au – to St Kilda residents last November, and now employ 40 delivery drivers, with drop offs all over the CBD and 120 inner suburbs.

 

Ryan Barrington has been working in the liquor industry for 15 years, and says he has a good understanding of alcohol regulation and policing. All the Tipple drivers have a Responsible Serving of Alcohol certificate, even though this is not a legal requirement.

 

Drivers have to deliver to a street address and are required to check ID on delivery. If customers are underage their delivery will be cancelled, and they cop a penalty fee (in thousands of deliveries, this is yet to happen).

 

Their main clients are corporate customers and people over 25 years old who live in the city, don’t have a car, and don’t fancy carrying heavy boxes up the stairs, says Barrington.

 

“We don’t discount, we don’t do bulk deals to encourage the younger market and we don’t target parties. It’s aimed at people who are entertaining, and who are busy.”

 

But there have been examples of online delivery businesses that failed to check ID, or left alcohol on the doorstep, says Michael Thorn, chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

 

More broadly, he is concerned about the increased accessibility and visibility of alcohol, and the difficulty with assessing the harm associated with liquor outlets that don’t have a street presence.

 

The impact of family violence should be considered in planning applications for bottle shops, hotels and other alcohol outlets, the state’s Royal Commission into Family Violence found in its recommendations.

 

In a recent test case for the state government, Victoria’s chief of police Graham Ashton joined forces with the City of Casey and local police to object to a large liquor shop in Cranbourne East, dubbed a family violence “hotspot”.

 

“Alcohol isn’t an ordinary commodity – there are risks attached to it and we should treat it with respect,” says Thorn.

 

Kali Sandbrook, from St Kilda East, has been using the Tipple service for a few months, mainly when she’s holding a dinner party and doesn’t want to abandon her cooking to venture to the shops.

 

She simply finds home-delivered alcohol convenient. “I don’t think home delivery makes it any more or less problematic. They should still do responsible service of alcohol, and not service people if they are intoxicated,” she said.