They may carry many of the same products, but online liquor stores aren't the same across the board! Like other retailers and delivery services, liquor stores online may offer varying prices and packages. Competition can drive these alcoholic beverage suppliers to include exclusive extra services or promotions.
These details and more can make or break your online liquor store ordering experience. With that in mind, we at Comparakeet have made it much easier for you to pick an online liquor store to fit your needs. Our reviews above will help you make an informed choice.
Below is a rundown of essential questions we asked as we considered factors leading to the ratings of the online liquor stores included in our top list.
What Types of Alcohol Does the Online Liquor Store Offer?
The best online liquor stores are not always the ones with a wide range of products to choose from. Quality is just as important as quantity.
Most online stores that sell liquor excel in providing either variety or quality. Some score high on both fronts.
Product Selection: From Beer to Bar Supplies
How can you tell if the selection offered by an online liquor store is above average? This is one of those things that goes unnoticed by people that already know what they want to buy.
If you're hosting a party and you just need a steady flow of beer, the brand probably won't matter as much as long as you know that the online liquor store offers keg services. But what happens if you're shopping for a cocktail party or pairing wines with dinner courses?
These situations are when you will appreciate a great selection of products: beer, wine, spirits, bitters, mixers, etc. Some online liquor stores may offer extra supplies---everything from bags of ice and solo cups, to corkscrews and coolers, and more. For example: Services like Drizly or Saucey can provide a bartender, mixologist, or even wait staff for your event.
Product Quality: Beverage Brands, Alcohol Retailers & Other Partners
Many, if not all online liquor stores, rely on partnerships with local physical stores and/or big suppliers and retailers. Liquor stores online rarely have inventory of their own, so product quality depends on their trusted sources.
A good online liquor store will have a public listing of their partners. The best will have your favorite local liquor store that you already trust as a partner!
Is the Online Liquor Store's Pricing Cheap or Affordable?
With many e-commerce ventures, the final price you pay depends on various factors that are automatically calculated upon checkout.
This is true for most online liquor stores, though some are exceptions. Keep an eye out for waived fees, promos or discounted rates.
Markups, when they're applied, are usually understandable. They may function as a buffer to cover additional costs, so the online store won't have to charge you a lot for shipping and related services. However, if the markup is too high, it becomes much less worth it to have liquor delivered instead of picking it up yourself.
The cheapest online liquor store is usually one that doesn't mark up items and make them more expensive. The best practice is to keep the prices consistent with the in-store prices offered by local liquor shop partners.
Note, though, that no markup probably means additional fees. At the very least, you should expect tax to be applied to your order---unless it's explicitly stated that the shown price is inclusive of it.
An online liquor store's delivery fee can be a flat cost applied per order. Some services waive the fee when your order goes above a set amount. Some won't process orders that don't hit a minimum requirement!
Finding a cheap liquor store online depends on more than just the listed prices. You also have to take into account what you need to pay for when you have your orders delivered.
In many cases, a large order may eliminate the delivery fee entirely. But how cheap is it really, when you're paying less in principle but actually buying way more than you need? Paying for a small delivery fee may be better, if not cheaper.
Deals and Discounts
Here's the real mark of a cheap online liquor store that you can depend on: seasonal deals and discounts! You may find that some online stores that seem pricier at first offer coupons, promo codes, referral programs and/or package deals to make their services way more affordable.
What Locations Does the Online Liquor Store Serve?
Imagine you've chosen an online liquor store that seems reliable. What's the most important question to ask? This one: "Will they deliver alcohol in my city/state?"
It might seem odd for an online service to be location-based, but trust us on this. Your go-to online liquor store will probably not be available nationwide.
For example: Our top pick Drizly offers deliveries to over 100 markets but it still only covers 26 US states. It is a dependable online liquor store if you're in places like California, Florida, Texas or New York---but if you're based in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan or any other state not served by Drizly, you need to look elsewhere.
How Easy Is It to Order Liquor from the Online Store?
Placing a liquor store order online is not hard at all if you're internet-savvy. If you know how to use an online store---think Amazon or online counterparts of stores like Walmart or Best Buy---you'll be able to figure it out.
Don't have a computer handy? You can use your smartphone! While it's perfectly fine to use your mobile browser, know that some online liquor stores have apps that you can download and use. Imagine: Your next beer delivery can be set up in just a few taps or clicks.
Want to place an order the old fashioned way---that is, by calling? While most of these online liquor suppliers have a phone number displayed, most of them note that it's for customer service.
This may seem counter-intuitive but it's actually a must! A direct line to a living, breathing customer service rep is almost essential for clarifications and dealing with delivery issues.
Planning a party and don't know what type of liquor to buy? You can always Google your way through, of course, but there are online liquor shops that go the extra mile here.
Some will have labels, tags or sections to show you which products are on sale or trending. Others even go as far as putting together event-specific packages for "boozy" holidays like Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick's Day.
Sometimes, you want to plan ahead but don't want beverages and supplies cluttering your location days before your event. The solution? Scheduled deliveries.
Some online liquor suppliers will allow you to schedule a delivery days or hours in advance. This is especially useful if you're short on space or are including perishable extras like ice and food to your order.
What Are the Online Liquor Store's Shipping and Return Policies?
Although frequent users of online liquor stores will probably be smartphone users wanting same day local deliveries, shipping and returns still play a big part in the this fast-growing service and retail industry.
Delivery Vs. Shipping
What's the difference between liquor delivery and shipping? First of all, there's the delivery time and date to consider.
With delivery, the transaction is usually processed and fulfilled locally---maybe even handled by a brick and mortar shop near you. You will probably receive it via the store's driver or courier, within an hour or two of ordering, or when you have it scheduled to arrive.
With shipping, a third party courier gets involved in the process as a middle man of sorts. This can be something like UPS or FedEx, and can take a few days to a week to get to you. You often will not be able to specify a preferred delivery date or time upon checkout.
Good news! Many online liquor stores offer free US shipping, or some version thereof.
Free shipping may be dependent on your location (non-contiguous US states are often not included), or may be applied once your hit a minimum order. It could be part of an ongoing promo for certain days or time periods. Often, it's just a permanent perk for using the service.
Although most online liquor stores have a return policy, some don't guarantee full refunds. Even those that do refund you will probably charge you with a restocking fee.
What is a restocking fee? Just what it sounds like. Because online liquor retailers often partner with local shops, restocking can be tedious and could cost time and money---for both the online store and the local liquor store. A restocking fee covers the cost and work put into this.
What Makes the Online Liquor Store Special or Unique?
An online store's products and services aren't all you should consider. There are certain things that overall make a difference, even if they seem to be small and almost insignificant by themselves.
The best online liquor store reviews will judge these companies and heir offerings thoroughly---and that's what we've tried to do here at Comparakeet.
Ease of Use
Do you enjoy using the online liquor store's website and/or their smartphone app? Is it easy to navigate or do you get confused and frustrated when you try to place an order?
If you're looking for the best online alcohol store, it may be a useful to pick one that you can navigate even when you're more than a little bit tipsy. That's just common sense.
Attention to Detail
Most online liquor store reviews may not even check what else the service has to offer beyond its product selections and promotions. It makes a difference, though!
All other things equal, which would you choose: an online liquor store solely focused on doing its job, or one that tries to add something extra? We'd choose the latter.
We love special packages that make it easier to plan parties! Instant price comparisons between two similar products are useful, as well. Special parts of the site---like a cocktail recipe section, or a very extensive FAQ---affect our ratings, too.
What do we mean by this? While we do believe that great service speaks for itself, we also appreciate a brand that knows how to put itself out there. We tend to trust companies and brands that feel approachable and seem transparent.
Not all brands may be able to hold physical events, or give back to charities, and that's fine. A strong social media presence may not be a concrete way to identify a quality liquor store online, but any kind of visibility helps. Even something as simple as having knowledgeable and responsive customer support will go a long way.