Alcohol Delivery: Merchant Tips for Packaging

Ensure alcohol delivery orders get to customers safely and swiftly with these packaging and transportation best practices.

11 min read
alcohol delivery orders

How do you ensure your alcohol delivery orders arrive at their destinations quickly and safely? From when you first get a delivery order notification on your tablet to the moment a Dasher hands the package to a customer, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your alcohol delivery orders are arriving as intended—chilled, fresh, and protected from breakage.

Keep reading to learn the top four alcohol delivery mistakes merchants make, then learn verified alcohol packaging and transportation best practices as shared by successful DoorDash alcohol retail partners.

Top four alcohol delivery mistakes

Correctly packaging a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer for delivery can mean the difference between a happy customer and one who will look elsewhere for their drink deliveries. (Who likes warm beer and broken bottles?) Here are the top four alcohol delivery mistakes retailers make.

Mistake #1: Not storing alcohol correctly on-site

Start with a good foundation. Storing your alcohol correctly helps ensure wine doesn’t get corked, beer stays fresh and fizzy, and hard alcohol retains its flavor while it’s on the shelf.

Store each bottle or can within its ideal temperature range, out of the way of sunlight or excessive heat, which can damage nearly every type of beverage. Consider investing in multiple cooling units to keep alcohol beverages at their recommended temperatures.

For reference, here are the ideal temperature storage ranges to keep in mind for common types of drinks:

  • Beer: 45-60°F / 7-16°C

  • Distilled spirits: 55-60°F / 13-16°C

  • Wine: 45-65°F / 7-18°C

Mistake #2: Offering too many options

One unexpected difference between food delivery and alcohol delivery is menu management. The sheer number of alcoholic beverage SKUs available—covering different types of spirits, multiple flavors, size formats, and more—can mean that menu management can easily get out of hand. It’s important to ensure that your online stock matches your in-store availability as much as possible. You don’t want a customer to order something specific, only to realize you no longer carry it in store.

One way to combat this is by being very proactive about inventory management. Another simple solution is to offer a curated selection of alcohol for delivery, focused on beverages that appeal to a wide range of customers and that you’re likely to always have in stock.

Neelam Patel, owner of the Chicago-based Delaware Food & Liquor, explains how he learned the optimal selection of beverages to sell through DoorDash through trial-and-error, “A big part of my strategy is to focus on the big brands, and offer beverages that are well-known.”

Mistake #3: Not protecting packages when transporting alcohol

Even if a bottle of wine isn’t going very far to get to a customer, it’s still worth it to take the time to package it correctly. This ensures not only that Dashers feel more comfortable handling alcohol deliveries because bottles are less likely to break or leak, it also provides customers with a sense of relief knowing their orders are packaged properly.

You don’t need to wrap everything in five layers of bubble wrap either: the best packaging for transporting alcohol can be both simple and effective. Consider investing in several packaging supplies to determine what works best for your business, given the types of items your customers tend to order and whether they’re placing big or small orders. Neelam, for example, keeps a variety of supplies on hand:

  • Paper bags to group items from an order together

  • Plastic bags to contain condensation and any potential leaks

  • Cardboard boxes to group larger, heavier orders together and make them easier to carry

  • Wine bottle sleeves to prevent wine and beer bottles from knocking together while in transit

Mistake #4: Not rating your Dashers

A key tip for alcohol retailers is to curate a pool of preferred Dashers for alcohol delivery by rating them. Neelam likes Dashers who are familiar with the downtown Chicago area, because “it’s easy to get lost here,” and he likes to get orders to customers quickly, always ensuring orders are packed up and ready to go before a Dasher arrives.

Omar Korin, another DoorDash partner based in Oakland, CA, likes working with a recurring group of Dashers for Savemore Market & Liquor alcohol delivery orders because they’re familiar with his handoff methods and often bring their own cooler cases to transport alcohol at chilled temperatures. “If you order something, you want it to come cold,” Omar explains. "Plus, the Dashers are really fast, so the order arrives as cold as it was when it left.” He also has a designated spot in his store for Dasher pickups, reducing the time Dashers spend waiting to pick up an order.

“About 80% of the Dashers that come are ones we’ve worked with before, so they know where to go to pick up their bags,” says Omar. “It’s faster and better for everybody.”

Best practices for alcohol delivery packaging and transportation

Now that we’ve covered some of the top alcohol delivery mistakes, here’s how to optimize your alcohol delivery packaging and transportation.

1. Keep beverages cold

Keeping alcoholic drinks cold is key—no one likes a warm bottle of beer or wine. Designate space in your refrigeration for top-selling alcohol delivery items to ensure they’re ready before a customer even places an order. Omar explains, “People are more likely to order from you again if a drink arrives cold. Otherwise, they feel like they might as well have gone to the store to get it themselves!”

For Omar, alcohol delivery sales were adding up so quickly he decided to invest in a separate refrigeration unit just for delivery orders. Omar explains how he’s reinvested his rising sales, noting, “DoorDash brings you new customers from outside your regulars, and it’s extra revenue for your business. It’s allowed us to invest in a new refrigeration unit to help keep our delivery orders cold.”

Refrigerator needs can change seasonally too. For Neelam, summer is rosé season in Chicago, so he keeps his fridge stocked with rosé in the summer, and switches to bourbon and other cold weather-friendly spirits in the winter.

2. Hire extra help for delivery rush hours

Friday and Saturdays can be some of the busiest days for alcohol delivery retailers, so make sure your staff is ready.

Neelam gets ahead of this by hiring an extra member of his team just to manage delivery orders on weekends. He says, “We keep an extra employee for the weekend rush and he’s in charge of taking all the orders for the day. He has the tablet and as soon as an order rings, he gets it ready.”

For Omar, alcohol orders tend to pick up around dinnertime, so he makes sure his employees are ready to go during that time.

3. Streamline the pickup process

The best alcohol packaging for delivery orders is one that makes it easy for Dashers to grab and go. Consider packaging your orders in bags and boxes with easy-to-grab handles, marking them with clear order information, and placing them in locations where a Dasher can easily find the correct order.

Check out these tips for more ways to improve the Dasher pickup experience, with advice from veteran Dashers.

4. Take care of customers

Mistakes happen. If a customer orders something you no longer have in stock, quickly remedy the solution. Neelam likes to call a customer directly and make custom recommendations depending on the type of beverage they’re looking for, instead of asking a Dasher to communicate with the customer.

If a wine bottle turns out to be corked or there’s another issue with a delivery order, Omar will replace it, free of charge. It’s all about the human side of the business. “You have to be flexible,” he explains. “You might lose $5 or $7 on an order, but you’ll gain a customer who will make more orders.”

At the end of the day, the little things that help take care of a customer—like thoughtful packaging, treating people well, and being flexible when things don’t go as planned—can go a long way. Omar sums it up: “I like seeing my customers, and greeting them. You have to like working with people in this business.”

Sign up with an alcohol delivery partner

Ready to sell alcohol to local customers online? In Neelam’s experience, third party delivery partners can provide “another stream of revenue without needing to put in a lot of work.”

Sign up with DoorDash as an alcohol delivery partner. New retailers get 0% commissions for 30 days, and can access exclusive DoorDash marketing tools to drive more business in their neighborhood.


Ali Cottong
Ali Cottong


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