The Impact of Ecommerce on Alcohol Trading

IWSR Research Indicates that 1.8% of the Value of all Global Beverage Alcohol is now Sold through Ecommerce



London – Like others, the drinks industry has recognized what a critical medium the digital environment is to interact with consumers, inform them, learn from them and ultimately to sell to them. Regulation has made the online retailing of alcohol more complicated than other sectors and this has stifled development, but this is changing.


IWSR Drinks Market Analysis’ global database now captures just how effective drinks players have been at selling digitally. Although variances inevitably exist between markets, the results for 2018 show that 1.8% of the value of all alcoholic drinks traded around the globe is now sold through ecommerce.


It is wine that has best harnessed the selling power of the online retail environment. Last year as much as 3.6% of all wine value sales stemmed from ecommerce outlets, a figure that translates into nearly US$8bn of sales. The rapid expansion of wine sales online has even threatened the viability of independent “bricks and mortar” wine stores in the UK. Online wine sales in the country have reached 6.5% of total sales value, prompting one leading wine retailer, Majestic, to announce that they are to sell off much of their retail estate to concentrate on their online business, Naked Wines.


The extensive number of wine producers and the diversity of choice has meant that a culture of experimentation has always existed within the wine sector. The online environment has proved to be well placed to service wine drinkers’ curiosity and to educate and inform consumption choices. The dramatic expansion of online wine marketplaces like Vivino, which after just nine years of trading now claims to have 10 million different wines and as many as 35 million users, has illustrated just how compatible wine selling is within the digital space.


Sales of spirits through ecommerce may not be as pronounced as wine, but IWSR research shows that around US$6.5b of spirits were sold online in 2018, a figure that represents 2% of all global spirits’ value sales. For example, ecommerce is reported to now be Pernod Ricard’s fastest growing channel.


Direct selling on owned online platforms has proved less effective for spirits operators than partnerships or acquisitions with established online retailers and delivery services, perhaps because it compromised choice to exclusively sell their own brands. The recent trend has been for operators to partner with existing online platforms to maximize exposure and to showcase their brands from a different angle to consumers.


The development of the online marketplace is happening at different speeds with drinkers in some markets quicker to adopt new purchasing practices and habits than others. The reported 800m Chinese internet users have been quick to embrace the advent of ecommerce. The explosion in smart phone use, social media apps and mobile ecommerce has facilitated this shift in buying habits and meant that 6.5% of off-premise sales of all alcoholic drinks are now ordered online in China.


The ecommerce channel has proved particularly popular for wine sales in China. Encouraged by fierce competition, which has ensured low prices and fast delivery, online sales now account for 9% of sales value – that is a fifth of all off-premise wine sales, as well as online spirits sales of almost 4%.


Even in markets like China where e-commerce penetration is already comparatively high, it can be assumed that the Ecommerce channel will continue to take share from “bricks and mortar” retail. The development of the channel will be fuelled by convenience, competitive pricing, a quickening speed of delivery and by rising digital competence.


The shift to digital platforms will change the alcoholic drinks landscape forever, providing a marketplace for a plethora of brands and concepts that are no longer reliant on winning shelf space from a few major retail chains. The future alcoholic beverage market will be a more diverse and interesting place as a result.

Who’s calling the shots?

Who’s calling the shots? Tavern owners want more regulation from the state in an increasingly competitive market

Does the lack of public interdiction of political policy creates a problem for public safety and an opportunity for public danger?  Tragedy usually creates the need for lawful policy.  


   Wedding barns, hair salons, jewelry stores, supermarkets,  fast food service, and art dealers, do they all need licenses to serve alcohol?  How many state alcohol enforcement agency and local police ever have enough money to enforce alcohol laws with increase of new alcohol locations?


  The privilege to deliver and serve alcohol to people must come with a legal responsibility. Prevention of alcohol misuse comes from education for servers and funding for state agency and local police departments. 


Wisconsin Tavern League has been a political powerhouse for decades — advocating in the Capitol for thousands of bars and restaurants across the state that serve alcohol.


The group, which was established in 1935 and is the largest tavern association in the world, has, like other advocacy groups, won and lost policy fights over the years. Among its victories, the Tavern League has fought successfully to extend bar hours and remove drunk driving warnings from state road signs. Its biggest loss in recent years was the failure to prevent a statewide smoking ban in bars in 2010.


It has yet to stop what it says is a growing existential threat to local bars and banquet halls: wedding barns, the privately owned establishments advertised to the public and available to rent for a variety of events, the most popular of which is the rusticly themed nuptial. People who rent out these venues typically bring in their own alcohol and bartenders to serve it. Some barn owners have liquor licenses, but many do not and have not been required to obtain them as is required of a banquet hall or bar.


“Our industry has been under attack since day one... just a difference in who's attacking and what the issue is,” said Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League, in an interview.

Wisconsin alcohol license enforcement by region

The organization’s members have for years advocated for more of what other business interests typically rebuff: government regulation and aggressive enforcement. In particular, they argue, the hands-off approach to wedding barns and other unregulated events spaces highlights a lack of consistency when it comes to enforcing liquor laws, a longstanding gripe of the Tavern League.


They say Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has so far largely abdicated that responsibility, along with his predecessors from both parties, Scott Walker and Jim Doyle, neither of whom took a firm, consistent approach to alcohol regulation.


“It’s the only area of government advocating to deregulate an industry … these are government officials whose only job is regulation,” Madland said of the state Department of Revenue and its enforcement agents. Revenue is the agency through which alcohol is taxed and regulated and it currently has nine agents to monitor hundreds of businesses that hold alcohol licenses.


There is no reliable Democratic or Republican position when it comes to selling and serving alcohol and both parties accept Tavern League campaign contributions to boost their candidates.


Evers has said that he wants to see alcohol consumption in the state better controlled, but he has yet to change the state’s approach to how it enforces the law or provide guidance on how the state’s alcohol statutes should be applied.


“Alcohol is something that needs control and so we have to make sure that is controlled in a way that other spirits are,” he said shortly after winning election in November 2018, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the issue.


Six months after Evers took office, the Tavern League and wholesalers say they are still waiting for guidance.


“We’re operating without a net … nobody is calling the shots,” said Madland, who said the Tavern League has asked the state countless times over the last several years to better enforce the law. “We’ve lost some respect for the agency ... the message it is sending to our members: ‘You don’t have to follow the law.’ And that isn’t some hyperbole.”


Allowing unlicensed event venues to stay in business while alcohol is served on the premises violates past Department of Justice legal opinions and is tantamount to the executive branch creating new policy without the Legislature, said Scott Stenger, the Tavern League’s lobbyist.


Stenger cites a 1992 legal opinion from then Attorney General Jim Doyle, who told the Legislature that if alcoholic beverages are served at an event where an admission fee is charged (similar, Stenger said, to a rental fee) that the “owner of the establishment must hold the appropriate alcohol beverage license.”


“We’re perplexed … wedding barns were always required to have a license,” he said.


Eric Jensen, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association, said his organization, too, wants more enforcement.


“We want our industry to follow the law, and we look forward to working with the current administration and the Department of Revenue to ensure our enforcement measures accomplish that goal,” he said in a statement to the Cap Times, speaking about enforcement broadly, not wedding barns. “The nondiscriminatory, competitive playing field created by these regulations has provided Wisconsin a vibrant craft beer and alcohol market in which our homegrown businesses compete fairly with manufacturers from across the country.”


Though the Department of Revenue jointly enforces state alcohol laws with local municipalities, it is considered the legal authority on how those rules are followed. Patty Mayers, a spokeswoman for the agency, said it has been working with the state’s alcohol industry to improve enforcement and is working on finding funds to hire more enforcement agents.


“The Department of Revenue takes very seriously the topic of alcohol regulation and enforcement, and effectively utilizes the resources granted to us by the legislature to enforce alcohol laws,” Mayers said.


A variety of beers is a benefit that alcohol retailers and wholesalers say comes directly from a well-regulated and enforced three-tier system where distributors can ensure beers from small brewers share space with those from the large operations.By Michelle Stocker

Department of Revenue as ‘referee’

The framework of laws that the Tavern League and alcohol wholesalers want better enforced is called the “three-tier system.” This set of laws outlines how alcoholic beverages should be manufactured, distributed and sold in the state.


After Prohibition ended in 1929, Wisconsin, among other states, adopted this system, which mandates that alcohol be made, distributed and sold by different companies. For example, a business that makes alcohol cannot also distribute it and companies that sell alcohol wholesale cannot sell it directly to the public.


Businesses like breweries, wineries and distilleries that produce the alcohol each have distinct rules they must follow. Those rules have changed incrementally over the years — some say becoming murkier — to accommodate new trends and business models in the growing craft beverage industry.


Though the three-tier system was intended to prevent monopolies, some craft beverage businesses say it now does the opposite, protecting some alcohol players at the expense of others.


The debate surrounding the three-tier system and how it should work has divided Republican lawmakers and pitted businesses that produce alcoholic beverages against those that distribute and sell them to the public. Both sides speak of clarifying the law, but what that looks like varies widely.


The state Department of Revenue was always supposed to be a referee between those business interests, but it has become increasingly passive, said Roger Johnson, a former regulator who retired in 2014 after 38 years working in alcohol enforcement. Johnson participated in a legislative study committee on alcohol regulation last year that resulted in little new policy, none of which addressed key longstanding problems. He acknowledged that wedding barns should be regulated in some way, but said that he has not been aware of what’s happened at the department since he left.


“I think there is a reluctance on the Department of Revenue’s part to get involved in any kind of municipal issues that come up, which, as the referee as a state agency, we’re here to administer and enforce the law,” he said. “If you want to change the law, change the law. Don’t wink and nod and ignore it because it’s not going to go away.”


He looks at efforts to clarify the law as “an attempt to bring things under control before it does become a problem,” he said.


Robert Pomplun

186 alcohol sellers charged in underage drinking crackdown in New York


More than 180 establishments holding New York state liquor licenses have been charged with serving minors during last month’s statewide crackdown on underage drinking.


That’s according to state officials who say April’s month long enforcement effort resulted in charges being filed against 186 out of the 851 bars, restaurants, liquor stores and grocery stores in 46 counties that were visited by underage decoys working with investigators.


The compliance checks were conducted by the State Liquor Authority, the state Department of Motor Vehicles and local law enforcement agencies.


Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the start of the statewide sweeps in early April. He says it was the state’s latest effort to catch people using fake identifications to buy alcohol and to hold businesses accountable for illegal sales.

How To Get Your Wisconsin Bartender License


Bartending can be a fun time. It gives you the ability to work in a lively and fun social environment, meet some interesting people, and most of all, leave with some extra cash in hand. Since bartending is primarily night work, it leaves your days free to work another job or finish college. Bartenders are subject to legal requirements that govern the alcohol industry. In Wisconsin, applying and obtaining a bartender license is required. Meeting bartender license requirements for Wisconsin is the first step to become a professional bartender.


Bartender license requirements are outlined by Wisconsin statutes 125.04, 125.17, and 134.66. If you’re planning to complete online or in-person coursework to satisfy requirements, make sure bartending schools are in compliance with regulations set forth in these statutes. Qualified schools will state that they are in compliance with these statutes in promotional materials; coursework must be approved by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.


In order to receive a Wisconsin bartender license, applicants are required to be over age 18, meet criminal record requirements and be certified by an approved school, according to the website Wisconsin Responsible Serving. You do not need to currently hold a bartending job in order to apply for and receive a Wisconsin bartender license. Licenses are only valid within your municipality; if you move, you’ll need to seek additional licensing. Municipalities are defined as the city, town or village where you live; requirements and regulations may vary depending on location.


Wisconsin bartender


To qualify for a Wisconsin bartender license, you must...

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Meet criminal record requirements
  • Complete a certified Wisconsin responsible beverage server course. (
  • Obtain a Wisconsin Bartender License (Alcohol Operator License) from the municipality where you work. The city clerk typically issues the Wisconsin Bartender License.  The requirements can be different for each municipality. See below for a listing of Wisconsin cities, towns and villages. There are links to websites and in some cases to the applications for a Wisconsin Bartender License for that municipality.


You need to take this Wisconsin responsible beverage server course to get a license, unless you have taken this course in the past two years, or have had a valid Wisconsin Bartender License in the past two years (in any municipality).  The municipality may have additional requirements.


You may work under the "immediate supervision" of another licensed bartender (or the licensee) without a Wisconsin responsible beverage server course.  The licensed person must immediately supervise each sale.


 All of the Wisconsin clerks are aware of our program and consider us a valuable vendor.


 The last requirement can be waived if it is a renewal application or if you held an alcohol beverage license, including an operator's license, within the past two years. The municipality may issue you a provisional operator's license if you are enrolled in a responsible beverage server course when you apply. An operator's license is only good in the municipality that issues it. For instance, if you are issued an operator's license in the City of Milwaukee, you may not use it in a suburban municipality, like Franklin.


A criminal record may prevent you from getting a license, see the municipality you want to work in below, ask the city clerk about specifics if they are not mentioned in the Bartender's License Instructions below.


Wisconsin Bartender License and Permit Application Information

Click on the Wisconsin city or municipality below for city clerk information for a bartender license permit and application. 

Allouez Bartender License
Allouez Bartender License
Allouez Bartender License
Allouez Bartender License
Village Clerk

1900 Libal St.

Altoona, WI 54720


Clerk's Office

1303 Lynn Ave.

Green Bay, WI 54301


Clerk's Office

100 North Appleton St.

Appleton, WI 54911


Village Clerk

2155 Holmgren Way

Ashwaubenon, WI 54304


Beaver Dam Bartender License
Bellevue Bartender License
Beloit Bartender License
Allouez Bartender License
Clerk's Office

205 South Lincoln Ave

Beaver Dam, WI 53916


Clerk's Office

1303 Lynn Ave.

Green Bay, WI 54301


Clerk's Office

100 State St., 2nd fl.

Beloit, WI 53511


Clerk's Office

2000 N. Calhoun Rd

Brookfield, WI 5300


Caledonia Bartender License
Cudahy Bartender License
De Pere Bartender License
Eau Claire Bartender License
Clerk's Office

6922 Nicholson Rd.

Caledonia, WI 53108


Clerk's Office

5050 S. Lake Dr.

Cudahy, WI 53110


Clerk's Office

335 S. Broadway

De Pere, WI 54115


Clerk's Office

203 S. Farwell St., 3rd fl.

Eau Claire, WI 54701


Fitchburg Bartender License
Fond du Lac Bartender License
Franklin Bartender License
Germantown Bartender License
Clerk's Office

6922 Nicholson Rd.

Caledonia, WI 53108


Clerk's Office

160 South Macy St.

Fond du Lac, WI 54935


Clerk's Office

9229 W. Loomis Rd.

Franklin, WI 53132


N112 W17001 Mequon Rd.

P.O. Box 337

Germantown, WI 53022


Green Bay Bartender License
Greendale Bartender License
Greenfield Bartender License
Howard Bartender License
Clerk's Office

100 N. Jefferson St., Rm 106

Green Bay, WI 54301


Greendale Village Hall

6500 Northway

Greendale, WI 53129


Clerk's Office

7325 West Forest Home Ave.

Greenfield, WI 53220


Village Hall

2456 Glendale Ave.

Green Bay, WI 54313


Janesville Bartender License
Kaukauna Bartender License
Kenosha Bartender License
La Crosse Bartender License
Municipal Building

18 N. Jackson St., Main fl.

Janesville, WI 53545


201 W. Second St.

P.O. Box 890

Kaukauna, WI 54130


Clerk's Office

625 52nd St., Rm 105

Kenosha, WI 53140


Village Hall

400 La Crosse St., 2nd fl.

La Crosse, WI 54601


Madison Bartender License
Manitowoc Bartender License
Marshfield Bartender License
Menasha Bartender License
Room 103, Clerk's Office

210 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd

Madison, WI 53703


Clerk's Office

900 Quay St.

Manitowoc, WI 54220


630 S. Central Ave., 5th fl.

P.O. Box 727

Marshfield, WI 54449


City of Menasha

140 Main St., 3rd fl.

Menasha, WI 54952


Menomonee Falls Bartender License
Menomonie Bartender License
Mequon Bartender License
Middleton Bartender License
Clerk's Office

W156 N8480 Pilgrim Rd.

Menomonee Falls, WI 53051


Clerk's Office

800 Wilson Ave., 3rd fl.

Menomonie, WI 54751


City Hall, Clerk's Office

11333 N. Cedarburg Rd.

Mequon, WI 53092


Clerk's Office

7426 Hubbard Ave.

Middleton, WI 53562


Milwaukee Bartender License
Mount Pleasant Bartender License
Muskego Bartender License
Neenah Bartender License
City Hall, Room 205

200 E. Wells St.

Milwaukee, WI 53202


Vil of Mt. Pleasant – Clerk

6126 Durand Ave.

Racine, WI 53406


Clerk's Office

W182 S8200 Racine Ave.

Muskego, WI 53150


Clerk's Office

211 Walnut St.

Neenah WI 54956


New Berlin Bartender License
Oak Creek Bartender License
Oconomowoc Bartender License
Onalaska Bartender License
Clerk's Office

3805 S. Casper Dr.

New Berlin, WI 53151


Clerk's Office

8640 S. Howell Ave.

Oak Creek, WI 53154


City Hall, Clerk's Office

174 E. Wisconsin Ave.

Oconomowoc, WI 53066


Clerk's Office

415 Main St.

Onalaska, WI 54650


Oshkosh Bartender License
Pewaukee Bartender License
Pleasant Prairie Bartender License
Racine Bartender License
215 Church Ave.

P.O. Box 1130

Oshkosh, WI 54903


Visit Website

Clerk's Office

W240 3065 Pewaukee Rd.

Pewaukee, WI 53072


Visit Website

Village Hall

9915 39th Ave.

Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158


Visit Website

City Hall, Room 103

730 Washington Ave.

Racine, WI 53403


Visit Website

River Falls Bartender License
Sheboygan Bartender License
Shorewood Bartender License
South Milwaukee Bartender License
City Hall, Clerk's Office

222 Lewis St.

Oshkosh, WI 54903

River Falls, WI 54022


Clerk's Office

828 Center Ave., 2nd fl.

Sheboygan, WI 53081


Village Hall

3930 N. Murray Ave.

Shorewood, WI 53211


City Admin Bldg – Clerk

2424 15th Ave.

South Milwaukee, WI 53172


Stevens Point Bartender License
Sun Prairie Bartender License
Superior BartendVisiter License
Watertown Bartender License
Clerk's Office

1515 Strongs Ave

Stevens Point, WI 54481

River Falls, WI 54022


Clerk's Office

300 E. Main St.

Sun Prairie, WI 53590


Clerk's Office

1316 N. 14th St., Ste. 200

Superior, WI 54880


Clerk's Office

106 Jones St.

Watertown, WI 53094


Waukesha Bartender License
Waunakee Bartender License
Wausau Bartender License
Wauwatosa Bartender License
Waukesha City Hall

201 Delafield St., Rm 104

Waukesha, WI 53188


Village Hall

500 W. Main St.

Waunakee, WI 53597


Clerk's Office

407 Grant St.

Wausau, WI 54403


Clerk's Office

7725 W. North Ave.

Wauwatosa, WI 53213


West Allis Bartender License
West Bend Bartender License
Whitefish Bay Bartender License
Whitewater Bartender License
City Hall, Room 108

7525 W. Greenfield Ave.

West Allis, WI 53214


Clerk's Office

1115 S. Main St.

West Bend, WI 53090


Village of Whitefish Bay

5300 North Marlborough Dr.

Whitefish Bay, WI 53217


City Hall, Clerk's Office

312 W. Whitewater St.

Whitewater, WI 53190


Wisconsin Rapids Bartender License
City of Wisconsin Rapids

444 West Grand Ave., 1st fl.

Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495


Contact Us if you see any broken links or if you would like your city, town, or village listed.

Wisconsin Alcohol Laws and Information

Wisconsin State Liquor Authority - Wisconsin Alcohol Seller Server Course / Wisconsin Bartender License

State of Wisconsin
Department of Revenue - Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement
2135 Rimrock Road
P.O. Box 8933 Mail Stop 6-40
Madison, Wisconsin 53708-8933
Phone: 608-266-6757
Fax: 608-261-6240
Internet Website: WI DOR Website

Codes and Ordinance site for MANY municipalities in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Alcohol Age To Sell or Serve

Age to consume: 21
Age to serve: 18
Age to sell (retail): 18
Age to pour: 18
Wisconsin Alcohol Hours of Operation

On Premise Establishments Hours of Operation

Sunday thru Thursday 6:00 a.m. - 2 a.m. (the next day)

Friday & Saturday  6:00 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. (the next day)

There is no closing time for the New Year's holiday.

No carry out sales between 12:00 midnight - 6:00am

- local ordinances may further restrict carry out sales hours

Off Premise Hours of Operation

  Wine & Liquor

  • Monday thru Sunday, 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.
  • Wine Sampling 11:00am until 7:00pm


  • Monday thru Sunday, 6:00 a.m. until Midnight
  • Beer Sampling 11:00am until 7:00pm


Wisconsin's DRAM Shop Law


125.035 Civil liability exemption: furnishing alcohol beverages.
(1) In this section, “person” has the meaning given in s. 990.01 (26).
(2) A person is immune from civil liability arising out of the act of procuring alcohol beverages for or selling, dispensing or giving away alcohol beverages to another person.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply if the person procuring, selling, dispensing or giving away alcohol beverages causes their consumption by force or by representing that the beverages contain no alcohol.
(4) (a) In this subsection, “provider” means a person, including a licensee or permittee, who procures alcohol beverages for or sells, dispenses or gives away alcohol beverages to an underage person in violation of s. 125.07 (1) (a).(b) Subsection (2) does not apply if the provider knew or should have known that the underage person was under the legal drinking age and if the alcohol beverages provided to the underage person were a substantial factor in causing injury to a 3rd party. In determining whether a provider knew or should have known that the underage person was under the legal drinking age, all relevant circumstances surrounding the procuring, selling, dispensing or giving away of the alcohol beverages may be considered, including any circumstance under subds. 1. to 4. In addition, sub.(2) does apply if all of the following occur:

1. The underage person falsely represents that he or she has attained the legal drinking age.
2. The underage person supports the representation with documentation that he or she has attained the legal drinking age.
3. The alcohol beverages are provided in good faith reliance on the underage person’s representation that he or she has attained the legal drinking age.
4. The appearance of the underage person is such that an ordinary and prudent person would believe that he or she had attained the legal drinking age.
(5) Subsection (2) does not apply to civil forfeiture actions for violation of any provision of this chapter or any local ordinance in conformity with any provision of this chapter.