alcohol onlineBusiness

Australia leads the world in online alcohol safeguards

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) has released its Global Standards for Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery (Global Standards), using an initiative led by Retail Drinks Australia as its blueprint.

The IARD is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to addressing harmful drinking worldwide and promoting understanding of responsible drinking. The IARD is supported by its member companies from all sectors of the regulated alcohol industry – beer, wine, and spirits – in their common purpose of being part of the solution to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.

The Global Standards introduce safeguards to prevent alcohol deliveries to minors and intoxicated persons and were directly informed by Retail Drinks’ Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery Code of Conduct, which was first launched in July 2019.

Retail Drinks CEO Michael Waters said: “Retail Drinks is enormously proud to have played a significant leadership role in the promotion of responsible online liquor retailing and we are thrilled that our Code has now assumed an international dimension with the launch of the new Global Standards.

“The development of the Global Standards has been directly influenced by Retail Drinks’ Code and our expertise in this area with several other countries also currently in the process of exploring adopting their own versions of the Code.

“With the two-year anniversary now in sight, we look forward to continuing our promotion of the Code as a best-practice and fit for purpose framework in leading responsible online liquor retailing, both within Australia and internationally.”

IARD President Henry Ashworth added: “We are pleased to partner with Retail Drinks and other leading global and regional retailers, e-commerce and delivery platforms. The Australian Code for online alcohol sales has led the way in setting responsibility standards at a national level and we look forward to working with Retail Drinks to promote the development of local codes across the globe.”

The Retail Drinks Australia Code of Conduct includes measures such as:

  • No unattended same day delivery
  • No unattended standard delivery for new customers or guest checkouts
  • No deliveries made to a public place in an alcohol-free zone or a prohibited or restricted area (e.g. dry communities)
  • Delivery agents or employees are not financially penalised for not completing a delivery or refusing to make a same day delivery on the grounds that they consider the recipient is under 18 years old, is intoxicated or was unable to verify the recipient’s identity
  • Records of refused deliveries are kept for at least one year
  • A Self-Exclusion Programme where customers can voluntarily opt out of delivery services
  • Safe drop principles employed to ensure deliveries are not made in locations which may be considered at risk (e.g. schools)

Endeavour Group was invited earlier this year to join the global partnership to establish robust international guidelines for online alcohol sales. 

“E-commerce has been transforming the retail industry in Australia for a number of years, and Endeavour Group recognised that, with it’s industry leadership in alcohol delivery, our responsible service controls need to be robust, workable and lift the overall industry standard,” said Endeavour Group Managing Director Steve Donohue (above).

“We were a major contributor to and a signatory of the Retail Drinks Online Code of Conduct, which mandates world-leading responsible service requirements in express alcohol delivery. The voluntary measures – such as self exclusion, bespoke training for drivers and RSA registers for deliveries – are not only above and beyond the legal minimum, but have helped shape what the legal minimum should be. 

“COVID-19 has changed the ways customers shop for the foreseeable future, and as an increasing number of customers choose home delivery in an effort to reduce community transmission, it’s great to see the industry come together on a global level and agree on robust guidelines. As drinks retailers, we have a great responsibility to the communities we serve.

“Endeavour Group’s ambition is to be Australia’s most responsible retailer, so we were honoured to be invited by IARD to not only share our insights and learnings, but also help us learn from other businesses globally on the steps that we can continue to take. It’s pleasing to see that our hard work has helped IARD shape the global guidelines for online alcohol sales, and we look forward to continuing this partnership.”

Ashworth added: “We are pleased to partner with Endeavour Group and the other leading global and regional retailers, e-commerce and delivery platforms. Endeavour Group’s expertise and learning has played a significant role in the development of the standards and we look forward to working with them to embed these standards in Australia and across the globe.”

Coles Liquor joined the IARD partnership this week. Chief Executive Darren Blackhurst said Coles takes the responsible sale of alcohol seriously and would work with industry stakeholders to promote best practice measures throughout its online business.

“Most people consume alcohol in a sensible and responsible manner however we are committed to harm minimisation initiatives that reduce excessive consumption,” he said.

“We saw a change in customer behaviour during COVID-19 and continue to see strong performance in eCommerce, so we have worked to adopt best practice safety protocols online and are pleased to join the IARD to share information on global initiatives and drive further improvement across the industry in partnership with suppliers and other stakeholders.”

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